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Orangeville Council calls on province to eliminate Ontario Land Tribunal

May 26, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

The Town of Orangeville is calling on the provincial government to dissolve the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT)

Town Council unanimously approved a motion brought forward by Coun. Grant Peters, stating the OLT is one of the most significant sources of red tape for delaying the development of more attainable housing in Ontario and needs to be eliminated.

“Municipalities create Official Plans, they have to be in accordance with the provincial policy statement, and you can check all the boxes, and the appeal process can still result in a decision that violates many of those parameters,” said Coun. Peters when introducing the motion.

The approved motion came from Mayor Tom Mrakas of Aurora and other townships have approved something similar. 

“This was brought forth several months ago, and many other municipalities have also had motions like this pass at their councils,” said Coun. Peters. “I certainly don’t think all the kinks are worked out, but it would force the province to re-evaluate its [OLT’s] role and its existence.”

Coun. Peters noted that in his four years on Council, he’s seen the OLT go back and forth on Minister Zoning Orders (MZOs), which allows the province to override municipalities planning decisions around developments.

“This was just something I thought was relevant given that we’re going through our Official Plan process, and that we have a lot of planning decisions in the recent past and in years to come,” Coun. Peters remarked.

Coun. Todd Taylor said the motion dovetails nicely with issues Orangeville residents are experiencing at Veteran’s Way. Residents there only have one route in and out of the area, since Hansen Rd is disconnected and College Street is barricaded for vehicle traffic. With the OLT forcing further development there, concerns have risen about the amount of traffic that would occur, without additional road infrastructure.

Council said to the builder it didn’t agree with OLT’s ruling that the development should proceed until capital improvements happen to the roads there, and it was shot down in a 4-3 vote.

“We’ll see we’re probably going to court. We’ll have some issues with the Ontario Land Tribunal, but we’ll see how that shakes out,” Coun. Taylor commented.

Coun. Lisa Post shared a similar comment, saying through her term of Council, she’s felt the pressure to vote and support developments that maybe aren’t the right fit for the community.

“We’ve seen it several times and we’ve been forced to feel a little handcuffed by the province,” she noted. “When it comes to true community development, I think it’s only fair for municipalities to have the opportunity to make some of the final decisions without the threat of being taken to tribunal.”

Background

The motion asking the provincial government to dissolve the OLT goes over some of the background with respect to planning processes and how it functions.

It states that municipalities in Ontario collectively spend millions of taxpayer dollars developing Official Plans and meeting the current provincial planning policy. The Official Plans are developed through months of consultation to ensure that future planning and development meets the specific needs of a community.

Official Plans include zoning provisions that encourage development in the “missing middle” or “gentle density” to meet the need for attainable housing in our community and are ultimately approved by Dufferin County, via delegation from the province, reads the motion.

It goes on to note that it’s within the legislation purview of a Municipal Council to approve Official Plan amendments or zoning bylaw changes that comply with provincial planning policy and fit within the vision of the Town of Orangeville Official Plan. It is also within the legislative purview of Municipal Council to deny Official Plan amendments or zoning bylaw changes that do not comply with provincial planning policy and do not fit within the vision of the Town’s Official Plan.

Municipal planning decisions may be appealed to the OLT, which is an unelected, appointed body that is not accountable to the residents of Orangeville, the motion continues.

This means the OLT has the authority to make a final decision on planning matters based on a “best planning outcome” and not whether the proposed development is in compliance with municipal Official Plans and the provincial planning policy. All decisions made by Municipal Council are only subject to appeal by judicial review and such appeals are limited to questions of law and or process, reads the motion.

“Ontario is the only province in Canada that empowers a separate adjudicative tribunal to review and overrule local decisions applying provincially approved plans; and whereas towns and cities across this Province are repeatedly forced to spend millions of dollars in expensive, time consuming and ultimately futile OLT hearings, defending Official Plans that have already been approved in compliance with provincial planning policy,” the motion states. “Costly OLT hearings act as a barrier to the development of attainable housing.”

The motion is being sent to Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, leaders of provincial political parties, and all MPPs in Ontario. The Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, Small Urban GTHA Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), and all Ontario municipalities for their consideration.


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