Replacing the OMB with LPAT

There is a dramatic change in land use planning in Ontario; as of April 3rd any new appeals on decisions (or lack of decisions) by Council will be through the Land Use Planning Tribunal (LPAT) as opposed to the OMB. As I consider one of my responsibilities to be informing my constituents of opportunities to be involved in land use planning decisions I want to provide my perspective on the impact of LPAT on citizen engagement.  Its important to clarify that there are several important appeals, in process,  which have been grandfathered to be conducted per the protocols of the OMB.  The key take away for citizens with LPAT is as follows.  i) Diligently assess planning applications early; ii) Ensure that Official Plans will drive the evolution in your community that you want.

When the Province announced intent to replace the OMB there was considerable hope and expectation that the opportunity for citizen engagement would be improved.  Its my assessment that this has not occurred; rather it will be more difficult.  There is the possibility of some assistance to citizens in terms of access to legal and planning resources but as to what this will mean is not clear.  The latter will be provided through a Local Planning Appeal Support Centre.    The positive news is that if Official Plans are current and good Council decisions to respect them will be final. It will be difficult to overturn a Council decision unless they don’t conform to policy.

With LPAT it is essential that citizens with interest in a land use matter get involved early.  (To clarify:  land use matters are Official Plan, Zoning Bylaw and the amendments for each).  Very specifically, it is necessary for citizens to identify issues at the statutory public meetings.  If the citizens have expert reports to bolster their concerns this must be presented at the public meeting for it to appear on the record of the matter to be considered by the Tribunal.  As citizen groups typically fund raise to enable the hiring of experts this will need to be done much earlier and more quickly.

Here are some of the features of this new world of LPAT.  Anyone who has participated in OMB hearings will appreciate how different it is. (I am identifying them to simply hi-light how different the new process is from the old.)  Further below I have provided links to various presentations talking about LPAT and processes.

LPAT is an expedited streamlined process for resolving appeals on land use plans.  There are only 3 grounds for appeal (inconsistency with a policy statement, non-conformity or conflict with a provincial plan, non-conformity with an Official Plan.) When an appeal is filed the LPAT validates it or not (i.e. confirms that an appeal can be made); once validated there are time limits for LPAT to render a decision.  At the LPAT hearing there are no witnesses (and hence no cross examination) except for witnesses called by the LPAT Chair.  Submissions may be oral, verbal or electronic and for each type there are limits in length, time.  (e.g. oral submission by party is limited to 75 minutes and by a participant to 25 minutes.)

My post should not be interpreted as an exhaustive review of LPAT.  It is simply hi-lights which I have learned about which I think may be of interest to citizens.  I welcome any comments…particularly if it will increase my understanding of LPAT.

Below are links to presentations, websites on the subject of LPAT

CELA Canadian Environmental Law Association   https://www.cela.ca/sites/cela.ca/files/Bill%20139%20Webinar%20-%20FINAL.pdf

LPAT Function http://elto.gov.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/LPAT-Webinar-LPATs-Function-in-the-Ontario-Planning-Process.pptx

LPAT Rule Changes http://elto.gov.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/LPAT-Webinar-Proposed-Rule-Changes.pptx



9 Responses to “ “Replacing the OMB with LPAT”

  1. Maret Aun says:

    Hi Debbie,

    I am in complete agreement with Angela. I rely on your blogs as an important source of information. I wish all councillors took the time to do this. It is truly appreciated. Thank you!

  2. Greg Locke says:

    Debbie this is a most excellent summary of they key points of distinction between the old OMB system and this anticipated LPAT process.

    We applaud you for being so transparent and open with King residents, for surely the LPAT process will face scrutiny as cases become heard in the coming months and years.

    My board at Concerned Citizens of King Township (CCKT.ca) are, like all Councils and citizen advocacy groups, working hard to understand this new regimen, for as you also find, this is not exactly what we were expecting and hoping for.

    • Debbie says:

      Yes, it is going to take some time to really understand how this is going to play out. Am very interested to see what the Local Planning Appeal Centre really delivers.

  3. Mike Shackleford says:

    Hi Debbie,

    My concern about LPAT is that it treats the Official Plan of a municipality as an all powerful entity and consequently will not question any deviation from the set course. Yet the OP created by the municipality is based on provincial policy, which in turn is based on a boiler plate formula. In other words, what maybe is good for one community is not necessarily good for another.

    Citizens have to trust their local council to decipher the provincial policy accurately while ensuring the OP is a legitimate expression of resident’s wishes.

    My fear is that some municipalities will be open to corrupting forces to create an OP that is not beneficial to all its residents.

    With the OMB there was a means of combatting poor decisions. With LPAT there are none.

    Regards,

    Mike

    • Debbie says:

      Hi Mike, I am not savy enough to rebut your assessment of provincial policy as being boilerplate; but to ensure that my lack of rebuttal is not interpreted as agreement I just want to say that I am ignoring it at this point. I will point out that Official Plans require approval of the Province hence I see that as one means for confirming correct interpretation of policy. And if a Council approves an OP which does not serve the community well the citizens have the opportunity to “punish” the Council members at next election. I think your comment that the OMB was a means of combating poor decisions is a tad nostalgic. In theory the statement sounds correct but let’s not forget the significant $$ spent to hire lawyers and consultants and the fact that it is typically the developer/proponent who has the most resources to bring to the hearing.

      • Mike Shackleford says:

        Hi Debbie,

        I was a big critic of the OMB but now I think it possibly is a case of “be careful what you wish for”!

        Instead of creating a revised OMB that was fair to all parties the government has created the LPAT that will be a closed door to any protest or questioning of dubious decisions signed off in the OP.

        In a perfect world the OP will be faultless and created by good impartial individuals. However, we don’t live in a perfect world!

        • Debbie says:

          Hi Mike, Fair point. Indeed, it puts a great deal of pressure on the OP. I really appreciate you making your comments.

  4. Angela Rose says:

    If all Councillors were as diligent, informative, intelligent, forth-coming, fair, listening and responding as Deb Schaefer, we would all be in a better place. Thank you so much, Deb, for these items and your summary comments.

    • Debbie says:

      Its gratifying to see such feedback Angela. Thank you! Maintaining my blog does take time so it is good to hear from you that it is valued; I hear same from others. I intend to continue maintaining it.

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