The Ontario government has announced that they will undertake a review of the Ontario Municipal Board…that’s the quasi-judicial body that reviews controversial planning decisions made by local councils.
There’s nothing wrong with a review; it’s good to re-assess all government operations from time to time.
But if this is being done as a pretext for dumping the OMB, it would be a huge mistake.
Contrary to a rather myopic opinion piece in the Toronto Star, the OMB does not second guess the decisions of local councils, it reviews them to ensure that those council decisions adhere to planning laws and guidelines.
Two recent OMB decisions actually supported the City of Hamilton on the controversial airport employment lands and the West Harbour ‘Setting Sail’ policy.
So why is the OMB necessary ?
Let’s not kid ourselves.
Often times, the planning decisions of local councils can be affected by NIMBYISM , or political gamesmanship.
I think we’d rather have the OMB, which acts as a Court of Appeal, take an objective look at a controversial issues , instead of a group of local councilors who may be more concerned about winning the next election rather than making the best planning decisions.
When people start talking about removing some of the checks and balances from our system of governance, it should make us all nervous.