Province to review Ontario Municipal Board; town hall Nov. 3 in Oakville

omb logoIn the face of mounting criticism of the Ontario Municipal Board from residents, municipal governments and the development industry, the Ontario government has announced a review of the OMB.

Among other duties, the OMB rules on planning applications that have been appealed to the board, including where an elected local city council has turned down an application for an Official Plan or a Zoning Bylaw amendment. A single OMB officer decides on an application, and can make a different decision than the elected council.

Town hall meetings will take place across the province, with a deadline for feedback Dec. 19. The  closest town hall meetings for Burlington residents are Oakville Nov. 3, Toronto Nov. 15 and Mississauga Nov. 17.

Matters to be discussed during the review include:

  • OMB’s jurisdiction and powers
  • citizen participation and local perspective
  • clear and predictable decision-making
  • modern procedures and faster decisions
  • alternative dispute resolution and fewer hearings


Ontario announces OMB review

Public consultation document

Town hall meeting dates & registration

How you can participate:

  • Submit or upload your comments and feedback using an online webform
  • Attend a town hall meeting in your area
  • Submit comments through the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry at Search for OMB Review, 2016. Notice #012-7196
  • Email:
  • Call: 1-855-776-8011
  • Mail a submission to:

Ontario Municipal Board Review
Ministry of Municipal Affairs
Provincial Planning Policy Branch
777 Bay Street (13th floor)
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5

My Take: I welcome the review, and support limiting the jurisdiction of the OMB to matters of law or due process. There should be no right of appeal simply because of disagreement with a local council’s decision.

The process is time-consuming, expensive, and duplicates the planning analysis already completed by a local municipality’s planning staff.  When a file gets to the board, the review of an application begins again. An unelected OMB officer can override the decision of an elected council.

Residents have said they are unable to effectively participate in an OMB hearing because they don’t have the deep pockets to pay lawyers and experts. Instead, residents would like to work with their elected representatives to get the best planning outcomes for their cities. If there is disagreement with a council’s decision, there is remedy at the ballot box – a fair, equitable and open system that everyone can participate in regardless of financial resources.

Further, the province already approves the Official Plans and Zoning Bylaws of local governments; we should not have to spend millions in taxpayers dollars defending these approved plans at the OMB.

I will be attending the Nov. 3 town hall meeting in Oakville to discuss limiting the OMB’s jurisdiction and powers.

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. I think that the OMB should be eliminated or at less be elected by the residents of the city AND council should be banned from receiving political donations from the developers and owners of construction companies. We the residents elect council and they are responsible to us; The OMB is not.

  2. Thank you Marianne for your work, and for your involvement in this matter, may your common sense views and support of an elected city council’s planning for it’s own community. Unfortunately Marianne, common sense isn’t as common as we think it is. Once again thank you for all you do, and may your voice, and your constituent’s voices be heard.

  3. There is a lot to be said regarding the OMB and it’s role in the planning and development process.
    The best discussion I could reference is the Development and Infrastructure meeting of July 16, 1PM video, approximate time frame 1.49 until 2.15.
    This video is available on the city site and provides the perspective of all councilors and the mayor. It’s worth watching and understanding why the OMB exists and why it should remain part of the process.

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