The unelected Ontario Municipal Board: more likely to approve developments than not

Protective of private interests.

1. Book Description
Series: IPAC Series in Public Management and Governance

A Law Unto Itself provides a detailed examination of the development and application of land use planning policy by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), a key Canadian administrative tribunal. Unlike the many existing analyses that focus on judicial reviews of the administrative process, this text explores the administrative process itself and demonstrates how a tribunal creates and implements policy through its decision-making.

Using a wide variety of case studies, John Chipman analyzes almost 900 of the OMB’s planning-related decisions during two specific time periods (1971-1978 and 1987-2000), illuminating the way in which the OMB frequently overturns municipal land-use planning decisions and imposes its own policies, which are generally protective of private interests, and the way in which it applies provincial planning policies within the context of its own standards. Chipman concludes that the nature of the policies developed by the OMB as well as the changing climate within which it operates together provide evidence that the board has outlived its role as a planning appeal tribunal.

[My italics.]

 — A Law Unto Itself: How the Ontario Municipal Board Has Developed and Applied Land-Use Planning Policy, John G. Chipman, University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, 2002.

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2. Executive Summary

Research supports that Board members are increasingly placing importance on provincial policy matters, as well as local planning documents, such as an official plan and zoning by‐law. Finally, of the 59 cases analyzed for this report, it was found that the Board is more likely to approve development applications than not. These findings, support to a degree, the findings and conclusions reached by Chipman.

This tribunal often renders contentious decisions that are unfavourable amongst professionals, politicians and concerned citizens and is believed to be pro‐development. Limited academic research has been published on analysis of the Board and additional investigations could reinforce optimism regarding this administrative body. Decision‐making at the Board is a process specific to a member’s interpretation, and therefore a standard procedure for decision‐making must be established.

[My italics.]

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