This week is a week to be remembered, as it is the week where – finally – land use planning in municipalities has been changed forever… and for the better!!
On April 3rd Bill 139 “The Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act 2017” took full effect, eliminating the OMB once and for all. This has been a long time coming. An outcome that so many residents, home owners, businesses and municipal councils across this Province have been asking for, for years.
OMB reform was a grass roots effort, not a top down pronouncement. It was the result of people coming together, working together to get this done. And it all started in Aurora!!
In January 2016, I put forward a motion that read as follows:
“NOW THEREFORE BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED THAT Aurora Town Council requests the Government of Ontario to limit the jurisdiction of the OMB to questions of law or process; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT that the Government of Ontario be requested to require the OMB to uphold any planning decisions of Municipal Councils unless they are contrary to the processes and rules set out in legislation”
Aurora Council unanimously supported this motion to do something about the scope and power of the OMB. It was followed up with a second motion put forward by Councillor Michael Thompson and myself– also unanimously supported – to create the Municipal Working Group on OMB reform. The Working Group brought together 17 elected officials from municipalities across this province to work together to push for much needed change to the OMB.
The Working Group held a one day summit – the Municipal Summit on OMB Reform – that brought together and sought the input of hundreds of members of municipal Councils from every corner of Ontario, with the common goal of affecting real change in the decision-making processes that affect how our communities are planned.
The need to reform the OMB had been talked about for years, but the needle had never moved. OMB reform didn’t even register on the top ten things that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) was working on. And the Province? Well, they’d spent a decade looking at the need for changes to the OMB and weren’t able to move forward with any meaningful change.
The Province has heard us loud and clear. They took the recommendations put forward by our Working Group – recommendations that were originally put forward in the Town of Aurora – and incorporated them in Bill 139,
Personally, I would like to thank the 17 members of our Municipal Working Group on OMB reform, who fought for – and achieved – meaningful change to land use planning legislation in Ontario. As as result of your hard work, communities across Ontario will now have a greater say in how we all grow and evolve.
Proof positive, that when you work together, you get things done.
Michael Thompson (Town of Aurora)
Christina Bisanz (Town of Newmarket)
Karen Rea (City of Markham)
Nicholas Ermeta (City of Cambridge)
Yvonne Fernandes (City of Kitchener)
Cathy Downer (The City of Guelph)
Mary Ann Grimaldi (City of Welland)
Frank Anthony Sebo (Town of Georgina)
Pat Molloy (Township of Uxbridge)
Marilyn Iafrate (City of Vaughan)
David West (Town of Richmond Hill)
Karen Shapiro Cilevitz (Richmond Hill)
Don Hamilton (Markham)
Steve Yamada (Town of Whitby)
Alan Shefman (Vaughan)
Nirmala Armstrong (Markham)
Marianne Meed Ward (Burlington, Ontario)