City’s enslavement by Ontario Municipal Board may be ending

Toronto is one step closer to being free from the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) March 31, after the Ontario Legislature’s finance committee agreed to hold hearings to discuss MPP Rosario Marchese’s Bill 20, Respect for Municipalities Act (City of Toronto). The bill would remove the City of Toronto from the OMB’s oversight.

Hearings are scheduled for April 10, to be followed by clause-by-clause consideration one week later.

Toronto City Council requested to be removed from the OMB’s oversight in February 2012, and reaffirmed this request last December. It is the only city in Ontario formally requesting this authority.

“Toronto is now closer than ever to being freed from the unaccountable and undemocratic OMB,” said Marchese, who represents the riding of Trinity-Spadina. “No other jurisdiction in the world has anything like the OMB, and we don’t need it in Toronto. Toronto just celebrated its 180th birthday. It’s time we treated it like an adult.”

The OMB is unique among the world’s planning appeals bodies in having broad policy-making powers, allowing it to overrule municipalities and make up new planning policies as it sees fit. The adversarial OMB process tends to favour developers, who can afford to hire the best lawyers and experts to make their case.

“The OMB does not exist to uphold the rules. It makes up its own rules,” said Marchese.