This past week, Regional Council established an important precedent in the ongoing discussion regarding the development of a men’s transitional housing shelter in the Town of Aurora. I am pleased to say that, on a majority vote, York Region Council recognized the authority of the Municipality in local planning issues and passed a motion to refrain from taking the Town of Aurora to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT).
The motion that was passed in open session was “Council does not support any action before Ontario Land Tribunal regarding the Region’s Zoning Bylaw Amendment Application for the proposed men’s emergency and transitional housing building at 14452 Yonge Street in the Town of Aurora.”
As residents know, I have always been a fierce advocate for a municipality’s authority in local land use planning decisions. I firmly believe that local planning matters should be resolved via the local municipality’s planning processes and regional entities should refrain from intervening. The decision by Regional Council respects the autonomy and decision-making authority of local governments. The decision also acknowledges that local municipalities are best equipped to handle matters that directly affect their communities.
Regional Council also passed a motion by Regional Council Jackson that I seconded to ensure that “That staff be directed to seek Council direction prior to commenting and/or appearing before the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) on any lower tier municipal Planning Act application.”
This motion ensures that any time staff want to attend the OLT for comment or in support/against of an application, that it needs to be done with local Council approval. This is the process at most of our local municipalities and I believe it should be the same at the regional level. It is important to ensure that it is the elected officials that decide when, how or if the Region is represented at the OLT. Regional staff or council should never be in the position of using a tribunal process to oppose the decision of a local municipality.
I look forward to ongoing collaboration and communication between the Region, the Town of Aurora, and all other local municipalities regarding important land use planning issues. It is crucial to foster a collaborative approach between regional and local authorities so together, we can navigate local planning issues and find solutions that reflect the unique needs and aspirations of our 9 individual communities without fear of the Region stepping in.