OMB begs question: What’s the use?
John Filion Ward 23 Councillor
If you live in the West Lansing area, after news of the recent Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) decision for 53-63 Sheppard Ave. W. landed with a thud in your inbox, you can be forgiven for asking the following question.
What’s the use?: Of attending countless evening meetings to discuss redevelopment issues in your community; of taking a reasoned approach by supporting a city official plan change that would allow midrise buildings on Sheppard along the same lines as other major roads; of electing a councillor and mayor who support you by fighting bad development that doesn’t come remotely close to following the city’s planning rules?
The recent Sheppard decision approved a 14-storey building where the city’s rules permit six. Worst of all, it allows the development to extend into the adjacent neighbourhood on Bogert Avenue — a bad precedent that could affect many other neighbourhoods.
In May, the province introduced OMB reform legislation, which could make such decisions less likely in the future. Putting aside the question of why that didn’t happen at the start of this term of office, why did the government announce it so far ahead of making it law, thereby causing a flood of new appeals by developers hoping to beat the clock? That will keep the OMB going for years under old rules, enough time to make the damage almost irreparable.
I offer a suggestion that could reduce the devastation: make the OMB reform retroactive to the date of its introduction. If they don’t, when they come asking for our vote next year, we can all ask, “What’s the use?”