It is disappointing and frustrating when planning Applicants immediately appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal (the latest iteration of the OMB) without even taking the opportunity to work with residents and Council to achieve a development proposal that works for the community.
Unfortunately, that is what has happened. We have been informed that the Applicant – Shimvest – re 271 Holladay Drive has submitted an appeal to the OLT (Ontario Land Tribunal).
Residents may recall that this application was requesting double the density AND double the height that is allowed for this area under our existing Provincially approved Official Plan. At the November Public Planning meeting, Council advised that the application for 271 Holladay Drive be referred to another Public Planning meeting in order to afford the Applicant the time to work with residents and Town staff to develop an application that is more in line with the requirements of our Official Plan. Unfortunately, rather than work with Council, the Town and our community on addressing concerns with the proposed application as most applicants do, the Applicant chose to go straight to appeal to the OLT.
Under the current planning regulatory framework, applicants can appeal any decision of Council, irrespective of whether a Council’s decision is in line with and/or supports that of their provincially approved Official Plan.
It’s like déjà vu all over again.
Once again, an unelected, unaccountable body – the OLT – can and will decide whether our Official Plan is worth the paper it’s printed on; whether our municipality has the right to make planning decisions that uphold our provincially approved Official Plan.
This application – going straight to appeal – demonstrates why we need to, once again, fight for reform of legislation governing appeals of municipal planning decisions.
Far too often we hear governments talk about “cutting red tape”, “streamlining the approval process” for new housing. I agree. But the way to achieve that is to, finally, recognize the authority of Municipalities to uphold their Provincially approved Official Plans.
If we had a process that recognized the authority of municipalities in land use planning decisions, then 1000’s of housing units could be built immediately. Permits could be issued tomorrow! Much needed supply could be increased by simply building what is allowed. No more endless battles, pitting developers against communities, over and over and over again at cost of millions of dollars and untold wasted time.
Sure a property owner has rights; it’s their property after all. But they purchased the property knowing what can be – and can’t be – built… so build what is allowed and let’s get shovels in the ground to increase and diversify our housing stock today.
If the Applicant wants a zoning change? well then, work with the Town and residents to put forward a development that enhances our community not just their bottom line.
The current situation in municipalities across our Province is simply untenable.
The time for change is now.
If a provincial government is serious about cutting red tape, streamlining the planning process and increasing housing supply, the simple solution is to limit the scope of powers of the Ontario Land Tribunal and recognize the authority of municipalities to uphold their Official Plans. #OLTReform