Board games

Es­tab­lish­ing lo­cal ap­peal body will give our neigh­bour­hoods a seat at the plan­ning ta­ble

Richmond Hill Post - - News - KAREN STINTZ Karen Stintz is a for­mer city coun­cil­lor, elected in 2003, and was a chair of the TTC. She lives in Ward 16 with her fam­ily.

The City of Toronto should take ad­van­tage of ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to make de­ci­sions lo­cally that im­pact lo­cal neigh­bour­hoods. Change is bet­ter man­aged when it is done at the lo­cal level, and a lo­cal ap­peal body (LAB) will help pro­mote man­aged change where it mat­ters.

Abol­ish­ing the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board (OMB) has been a long-stand­ing re­quest from Toronto City Coun­cil. For­mer Toronto coun­cil­lor Michael Walker was the orig­i­nal ag­i­ta­tor for abol­ish­ing the OMB as he be­lieved an un­elected, semi-ju­di­cial body should not be able to re­verse a de­ci­sion made by an elected coun­cil. De­vel­op­ers, on the other hand, wor­ried about un­fet­tered po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence, lob­bied to keep the OMB in­tact, ar­gu­ing that the Plan­ning Act should be free from the med­dling of city coun­cil­lors.

The Prov­ince of On­tario, un­der the City of Toronto Act, gave the city more pow­ers over cer­tain plan­ning de­ci­sions but re­fused to abol­ish the OMB. The prov­ince’s ra­tio­nale was to give coun­cil a lit­tle more con­trol over some de­ci­sions but still keep the pro­vin­cial ap­peal body for larger de­vel­op­ments that may be po­lit­i­cal and con­tro­ver­sial.

A LAB would be a sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit for Mid­town, as some of the most con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sions re­main at the Com­mit­tee of Ad­just­ment. As old houses are knocked down and new ones con­structed, neigh­bours are con­cerned about over­sized houses, flood­ing, pri­vacy, loss of trees and green space.

A LAB would be able to con­sider is­sues be­yond the ju­ris­dic­tion of the OMB that are im­por­tant for pro­tect­ing neigh­bour­hoods but not al­ways un­der­stood by pro­vin­cial ad­ju­di­ca­tors.

A cur­rent pro­posal would see the city es­tab­lish a LAB com­posed of three cit­i­zen mem­bers. It would be lo­cated at 40 Orchard View Blvd. — the lo­ca­tion of the Toronto Pub­lic Li­brary at Yonge and Eglin­ton. The fee to ap­peal a Com­mit­tee of Ad­just­ment de­ci­sion would be $500, which is more than ap­peal­ing to the OMB, but the cost of the hear­ing should be sub­stan­tially re­duced. The city is also propos­ing a me­di­a­tion pi­lot project that would en­cour­age the par­ties to me­di­ate a set­tle­ment be­fore it goes to the panel.

Al­though a LAB will need to con­sider the Plan­ning Act when ren­der­ing de­ci­sions, the cit­i­zen mem­bers will be bet­ter able to mea­sure the im­pact of vari­ances on a com­mu­nity be­cause the mem­bers will likely be more familiar with the com­mu­nity.

The me­di­a­tion pi­lot project is also an ex­cel­lent idea as it en­cour­ages op­pos­ing in­ter­ests to work out their dif­fer­ences. Usu­ally the best de­ci­sions are the ones that the two sides can agree on.

Kath­leen Wynne has kept con­trol over lo­cal plan­ning with the prov­ince through the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board, but for how long?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.