Meed Ward wants her colleagues to endorse a resolution calling for changes to how the Ontario Municipal Board operates.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 4th, 2016


It didn’t take her long to get her concerns with the way the Ontario Municipal Board changes the will of some decisions made by municipal councils.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has always had problems with the way the OMB works; she also thinks the city’s legal department doesn’t do all that well before the OMB and notes that Oakville seems to do much better.

When the  Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Ministry of the Attorney General announced they are working to develop proposed recommendations to improve how the OMB works within the broader system of land use planning, Meed Ward couldn’t move fast enough.

Meed Ward as a delegation

Marianne Meed Ward earned her spurs as a citizen who delegated again and again for changes in the way the city did things.

The province said it was preparing a consultation paper that will be released in the fall 2016 for further comment.

The province added that it would like to hear views on a range of topics, including the jurisdiction and powers of the OMB. This could include what matters can be appealed and who may appeal them, the use of local appeal bodies and how much deference should be given to municipal decisions.

Meed Ward believes Burlington has an opportunity to help shape the upcoming OMB reform discussion and consultation paper. “We can: she said “advance a principle-based approach to OMB reform that endorses the principle that municipal governments are a mature order of government able to make planning and other decisions for our communities.

“By passing a resolution now for input to the province, we have an opportunity to ensure this principle undergirds the upcoming consultation.”

Meed Ward adds that the principle also aligns with the approach taken by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

Meed Ward said she recently spoke with the Director of Policy at AMO., who confirmed AMO will take a “principled approach” to advocacy on OMB reform that starts with the principle that municipalities are a mature order of government in decision-making.

Meed Ward takes the position that as “ a mature order of government, there should be no right of appeal to the OMB of an Official Plan or Zoning Bylaw amendment decision by a local council, where those Official Plans and Zoning Bylaws have already been approved by the municipality, Regional government (where applicable), and the provincial government as conforming to growth plans and other applicable legislation.”

Meed Ward argues that:

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker.

Will Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward find support for her OMB related resolution from Mayor Goldring ?

Municipalities retain the right to initiate their own amendments to Official Plans/Zoning Bylaws, and city councils retain the right to approve recommendations from staff and/or requests from the development community for amendments to the OP/Zoning Bylaw, where these changes are considered in the best long-term interest of the communities they serve. But there would be no right of appeal of a council decision to the OMB.

Removing the right of appeal to the OMB for Official Plans and Zoning Bylaw amendments achieves the following:

  • endorses the principle that muncipalities are a mature order of government, and final decision-makers.
  • encourages municipalities and members of the development industry to work together to achieve the best land use planning outcome for
  • eliminates duplication of work, saving time and money. OMB appeals, whether by municipalities, residents, or members of the development industry, are costly and time consuming, and ultimately built into the price of new homes or property taxes. Local planning staff and various local departments and agencies take months reviewing the merits of a planning application; the process begins all over again when an application is appealed to the OMB, but in a much more costly and time consuming forum. This process, in effect, makes the OMB the local planning departments of the
  • frees up much needed resources and time in the OMB calendar to deal with the balance of hearings that come before the

The exception to the right of appeal would be where municipalities did not follow due process or its own procedures in processing an application (for example failure to provide proper notice of a statutory public meeting). The appeal would deal with process issues, not the merits of the application.

To date, more than 100 municipalities have passed resolutions to reform the OMB, including Oakville and Halton Hills. A common theme underlying the resolutions is the principle that municipalities are a mature order of government in decision-making.

A coalition of elected officials from Ontario municipalities recently sponsored a municipal summit on OMB Reform in May that Meed Ward attended. The key principle arising from the summit is that municipalities are a mature order of government and best positioned to make local planning decisions, and as such our Official Plans and Zoning Bylaws – where approved by upper levels of government – should not be appealable to the OMB.

By passing the attached resolution, Meed Ward Burlington has an opportunity to add their voice to those calling for OMB reform; we have an opportunity to encourage the province to shape its consultation around the principle that municipalities are a mature order of government in land use planning and other decisions.

Worth noting is the Mayor Goldring sits on an AMO advisory committee but has not commented (for or against) on the AMO policy

The following is the resolution Meed Ward proposes city council endorse:

City Hall BEST aerial

Will city council fully endorse the Meed Ward resolution …

Queen's Park

… and will the province hear what city council may have to say?

WHEREAS, the Government of Ontario has announced a review of the Ontario Municipal Board and is seeking input from municipalities and members of the community; and

WHEREAS, the City of Burlington has an Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw that set out Council’s policies on how lands should be used, guides and directs future growth, and is developed in consultation with the community; and

WHEREAS, Burlington’s Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw have been approved by the Region of Halton and the Government of Ontario and conform to applicable regional and provincial legislation; and

WHEREAS, Council retains the legislative power to initiate, grant or deny Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments after appropriate review; and

WHEREAS, currently all Burlington land use planning decisions may be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB); and

WHEREAS, municipalities are a mature order of government able to make planning and other decisions for our communities;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Burlington requests the Government of Ontario to recognize and respect the rights of municipalities to make decisions regarding adherence to municipally, regionally and provincially approved Official Plans and Zoning Bylaws, which reflect local community needs and visions, by implementing the following OMB reforms:

  1. Exclude the Board from hearing appeals of applications for amendments to municipally, regionally and provincially-approved Official Plans and Zoning
  1. Require the OMB to show deference to the decisions of local

Limit appeals to the Board to matters pertaining to following due process or procedure in processing an

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Motion be sent to the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario; the Honourable Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing; Mr. Patrick Brown, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party; Ms. Andrea Horwath, Leader of the New Democratic Party; all MPPs in the Province of Ontario; the Regional Municipality of Halton and all Halton Region Municipalities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Motion be sent to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

It could become an interesting debate’

Meed Ward H&S profile

Has Councillor Meed Ward managed to gain support from her council colleagues for the resolution she plans to bring before Council?

Had the provincial government made this kind of change a few years ago the city would not be involved in an OMB hearing over the proposed ADI Group development at the intersection of Lakeshore Road and Martha Street.  City council unanimously agreed that the then proposed 28 story structure (now reduced to 26 storeys) should not be approved.

The city then failed to make a decision on the ADI application within the required time frame and ADI took the application to the OMB.


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5 comments to Meed Ward wants her colleagues to endorse a resolution calling for changes to how the Ontario Municipal Board operates.

  • Chris Ariens

    I think we do need a board that provides sober second thought on municipal decisions, which have a tendency to cater to parochial interests and can tend to quickly fall prey to NIMBY syndrome. Somebody needs to be able to ensure that those municipal decisions are consistent with their own plans, as well as with the spirit of the region’s and province’s plans and guidelines and overall sound planning principles (which evolve quickly, sometimes faster than municipal legislation has been able to keep up with).

  • Yes, a good step. The problem we have now is that the Burlington Staff them selves seem disengaged on community problems. It’s just about “intensification” at any cost – because that’s all that “places to grow” mandates. If places to grow mandated local green space or a standard quality of transit – I’m sure the staff would feel obliged to meet it. It just gives lip service to these issues – no teeth.

    As is it’s a greyer, more polluted, more congested with less to do Burlington for all of us. It’s the pattern of building encouraged by the city staff that is doing this. Not the OMB.

  • John

    In the rush to advise the provincial review, this resolution is asking support from council to deny residents and citizen groups their right to appeal a council decision or development proposal.
    What is being presented excludes the OMB from hearing their concerns and would remove oversight of councils decisions.
    Burlington has made impressive progress with resident engagement, this would be a step back, the polite call that regressive political thinking.

  • A better option is to abolish the OMB. No other province has its equivalent.