18 May 2018

    There's A New Way To Appeal Property Developments In Your Neighbourhood Featured

    Are you looking to challenge the re-zoning of your neighbour’s property or oppose that new 30-storey condominium development in your neighbourhood? If so, your concerns will now be addressed by the LPAT. 

    As of April 3, 2018, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) has been replaced by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). The OMB was a quasi-judicial body that dealt with development proposal appeals and was previously responsible for conducting hearings and making decisions on land use planning issues and other matters. The much-criticized OMB was often perceived by municipal councilors and communities as being too deferential to developers.

    As a response to this criticism, in 2016 the province launched a review of the OMB. Hundreds of people submitted comments and complaints, which led to the Ontario government passing the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act 2017, which eliminates the OMB altogether and substitutes the LPAT in its place.

    The LPAT is the province’s new tribunal that will deal with a range of municipal planning, financial and land matters. These include matters such as official plans, zoning by-laws, subdivision plans, consents and minor variances, land compensations, development charges, electoral ward boundaries, municipal finances, aggregate resources and other issues. The LPAT will operate under a new set of rules that provide greater authority to municipalities to make final decisions on housing and other developments within their jurisdiction.

    Changes You Should Know About

    The New Legal Test

    Previously, when hearing appeals from development proposals, the OMB would hear arguments from both sides and make decisions based on what it believed to be the "best" planning outcome. This meant that, at times, the OMB would overrule the decisions of local councils. Effectively, the OMB had the power to make planning decisions itself- even if those decisions were inconsistent with local planning standards.

    The LPAT, on the other hand, will now be compelled to take on the role of a true appeals tribunal, rather than being able to make planning decisions of its own. The new legal test will look at whether the proposed development is consistent with local planning documents. If the answer is no, the matter will automatically be referred back to the municipal council for them to reconsider the decision.

    More Support for Citizens and Community Associations

    One of the main criticisms of the OMB was that there were few supports for ordinary citizens, who found the costs of participating in matters before the OMB prohibitive.

    The LPAT will offer assistance to community associations trying to navigate the appeals process by establishing the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre (LPASC). The centre will offer legal and planning help to ordinary citizens who want to participate in matters before the tribunal and, in certain cases, will provide legal representation at the LPAT. The goal of establishing the centre is to break down barriers to community participation in planning appeals before the tribunal and offer a more streamlined and cost-effective process.

    More Deference to Local Councils

    Under the previous process, when a development proposal appeal came before the OMB, the tribunal would conduct the hearing de novo (from the beginning), where it would consider the development proposal as though it had never been considered before.

    Under the LPAT, all hearings will consider only the decisions made by local councils, rather than starting from scratch. The goal of this new process is to provide more deference to the decisions of local councils, which should better reflect the desires of those living in the community.

    More Accountability for City Councils

    Finally, the new changes implemented by the LPAT aim to make Ontario city councils more accountable to voters for their decisions by ensuring that they follow their own local planning rules.

    Previously, the OMB could act as a scapegoat for local councils to approve unpopular projects that catered to the wants of developers. Where these plans might not correspond with local planning rules, councils could approve large development plans under the guise of the plan likely being approved by the OMB anyway. The new process empowers local councils to say “no” to developers where the proposal is outside of the scope of local planning rules.

    For additional information about the LPAT and how to navigate the land use planning and appeal process, you can check out the resources posted on the LPASC website or contact our office if you are currently dealing with a land use planning issue.

    Written by Brittany Miller. 

    Read 1629 times Last modified on Sunday, 22 March 2020 16:15
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    Walker Law Professional Corporation

    Tanya Walker obtained her law degree from Osgoode Hall at York University in 2005 and her Honours Bachelor of Commerce with a minor in Economics from McMaster University in 2002. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 2006 and created Walker Law a litigation law firm in 2010. Tanya is currently serving a term as Bencher of the Law Society of Ontario; elected by her peers as not only the first Black elected female Bencher from Toronto, in the 220-year history of the Law Society, but also as one of the youngest sitting Benchers.
 Tanya is a frequent speaker on legal issues to the Toronto Community and regularly appears on the CTV Show, Your Morning as a legal expert. She has also been named in the 2017 and 2018 Lexpert Guides as one of the Leading Lawyers to Watch in Corporate/Commercial Litigation and is also the recipient of the 2018 Women’s Business Enterprise of the Year Award.

 Tel: 647-342-2334 ext. 302 
 Email: tanya(at)tcwalkerlawyers.com


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