Few provincial bodies have generated as much frustration and delays as the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Created well over 100 years ago, the OMB had the ability to override municipal planning decisions, frustrating both residents and the City. The impact of the OMB, including encroachments of tall buildings into neighbourhoods the City never intended them to be within, have and will continue to shape land use planning in Toronto for decades.
Frustrated over their power, I passed a motion in 2012 with Councillor Josh Matlow demanding the province take action. I have long argued that the city has met the intent of the provincial intensification policy and that City Planning is sophisticated enough to handle planning applications without the interference of a quasi-judicial body. Much advocacy later, the province relented and sought input to reform the OMB.
The newly renamed body, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), places limits on what can be appealed and provides municipalities more opportunities to influence the outcome before a panel of tribunal members steps in. The result has been developers acting more cautiously and seeking more collaboration and consultation with residents, leading in the short term to better projects. After the election of Doug Ford and his conservative government, they have brought back the majority of the over-reaching OMB processes and maintained the LPAT name.