Province to overhaul Ontario Municipal Board

Land use planning returns to the people, elected councils

After months of lobbying by residents and municipalities to put development decisions back in the hands of local communities and their elected representatives, the province has introduced plans to overhaul the Ontario Municipal Board.

The OMB as we know it will no longer exist. In its place will be the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre. The centre would provide free information and support for citizens who want to participate in the land use planning appeal process.

Developers will no longer be able to appeal a decision by city council simply because they disagree with it and hope the OMB will give them what they want. New rules will significantly limit what can be appealed. There will be no more “de novo” hearings – which start at the beginning to hear pros and cons of a development application. Developers will have to prove a council decision on an application doesn’t conform to provincial policies or municipal plans. Good news is our Official Plan and Zoning are approved by both the Region and the Province as conforming to provincial policy; if we are following our own plans, we need not worry about appeals.

If the tribunal does find a council decision doesn’t comply, they can’t replace it with a new decision but must return it to the municipality, which will have 90 days to make a new decision. Only on a second appeal would the tribunal retain the authority to overrule a municipality.

The changes will not affect current developments already at the board, including the Martha/Lakeshore proposal for 26 storeys. The OMB hearing for that will resume July 17 at City Hall, 10am in Room 247.


Overhaul of OMB

My Take:

This is like Christmas in May – communities will regain control of our own vision for our communities. I was part of an Ontario working group seeking OMB reform, and more than 100 municipalities lobbied the government for reform – not Burlington, unfortunately. My motion to add our voices to this effort lost 6-1 at council. Thankfully the collective voice of others prevailed. The legislation is expected to be introduced when the legislature resumes sitting.

See earlier articles:

Municipal councillors recommend reforms to OMB

Council motion to limit OMB fails

Time has come for OMB reform


Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:


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  1. Good news on the demise of the current OMB. Shame on Burlington Council for not wanting to be part of the lobby group.

  2. On second thoughts to my earlier post, perhaps it is time to change the councillors on council if they are not prepared to project the feelings of those they represent. ???????

  3. For a long time, residents have made it clear of their dislike for O.M.B. decisions yet six out of seven councillors did not support the request for change. It appears that they preferred not to support their constituents. Let them give their reasons.
    The proposed changes look good but how many company/lawyers are looking for ways to get around the intent. Time will tell.

  4. Great news on the OMB. Thank you for your efforts. Disappointing that you were the only one on council who saw the need for overhauling this institution. Hasn’t the need
    been obvious?

  5. Thank you again Marianne for standing up for what you – and what most of Burlington’s constituents – believe in, even against the other voices who are supposed to be representative of taxpayers in this city. This change was way overdue, it is unfathomable that every other other City Councillor did not agree. Hopefully as in other areas, and as Ian suggests, the Wynne government will declare a moratorium on current appeals that are decidedly in direct conflict with the city’s Official Plan.

  6. Am shocked that Burlington did not support this, thanks for being the lone voice of reason so that this long standing rebuttal of local control can be changed.

  7. The only thing that needs to be overhauled is the government of Ontario…2018 can’t come soon enough, good riddance.

  8. Marianne, I don’t do Facebook for many reasons, so I can’t access the comments sent there. Can you change this or have all comments sent to your page as well?

  9. I think the decision to overhaul and or scrap the OMB is long overdue. I also think the the Wynn Government should declare a moratorium on any appeals to the OMB until a new system is implemented.

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