Bayview says goodbye to OMB
From the townhouses on Bayview Avenue to the towers at Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue, Ward 25 is constantly under construction. Many of the applications for these developments have been appealed to and approved by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), an unelected, unaccountable body far removed from the areas in question.
I have been a vocal opponent of the OMB and am hopeful that reform is on the way. The province’s 2016 OMB review led to the creation of Bill-139, the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act. Last month, Bill-139 was sent to the standing committee on social policy, and it has now been ordered for a third reading in the Ontario legislature. The provincial government will post its transition plans online for public comments later this year.
If Bill-139 is passed, the OMB would be replaced by the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal. This body will only review decisions that do not follow the official plan and zoning bylaws. Requests to amend secondary plans will be permitted only with the approval of Toronto City Council for two years after adoption. Rather than focusing on specific applications, city planners will be able to develop long-term, sustainable policies without the looming threat of OMB appeal.
Bill-139 was inspired by local engagement on controversial applications such as the campaign against the 35-storey tower beside John Fisher school. I am cautiously optimistic that these changes will give the city and residents more power to preserve the beautiful neighbourhoods of Ward 25.