Problem Community Submissions Proposals Progress towards a Solution References
Update or Abolish the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board)
There is evidence that the OMB has outlived its original mandate and that its mandate and policies, goals, purpose, approach, and processes, should be reviewed, updated - or the OMB abolished.
The OMB was created to establish provincial control over municipalities in the province, at a time when municipalities were scattered and small. In today's world, where municipalities in the province contain 10s of thousands to millions of inhabitants, the OMB is a totally unnecessary bottleneck preventing municipalities from making internal decisions that affect only themselves.
The OMB is not a tool of democracy, with the ability to assess and balance the wishes of all, but rather only able to compare and balance the wishes of the few represented by special interest groups that have the resources and political will to present their case (to the OMB). Yet the decisions made by the OMB ultimately affect the entire population.
- Give the internal land use decisions (that affect only the municipality or community) back to the community.
- Restrict the decision-making power of the OMB to only land use that impacts on multiple communities. WHY? This would correct the current problems and improve the quality of lives within municipalities.
- In land use appeals, limit the initial OMB decision to simply determine whether municipal land use issues will or will not impact on other municipalities. WHY? Only if the impact goes beyond the municipality should the OMB exercise its mandate. Immediately enables the OMB to assign its resources effectively.
- Update the definition of "land use" to separate land use for purposes of transportation of goods, services, and people between communities from other types of land use; such as land use that impacts goods, services, and people only within a given single municipality. WHY? To make it easier for interested parties at all levels to determine when to appeal a decision to the OMB.
- Link "land use" to "zoning". WHY? It seems like the OMB was given the "urban design" mandate in order to address the need to relate zoning categories to each other (i.e., urban design) because zoning bylaws only identify zoning categories and not how individual categories should relate to each other for a given urban plan.
- Give the OMB the mandate to resolve 50-50 conflict issues within municipalities. WHY? 50-50 issues can hold up useful decisions. Also, the OMB can access provincial resources that may be useful in resolving a bottleneck conflict; for example, a situation where the whole community would benefit from a sewage system but continues to rely on septic tanks per house because of an inability to resolve cost and personality issues.
- The OMB should invest in some effort to justify its existence to the residents of other cities. WHY? To clarify its role to all.
- The main website for the OMB should introduce and provide biographies of the board members who will be making OMB decisions. WHY? To reassure the public that there is no possibility of conflict of interest; for example, if a board member is also an owner or has an interest in companies that would benefit from land use decisions. Another example would be a board member who is an architect (expertise in that area) whose personal livelihood has in the past and could still possibly depend on developers giving them architectural contracts. Or simply someone with broad personal contacts that could benefit from OMB decisions.
- Do not allow the government of the day to appoint OMB members. WHY? This gives the provincial government enormous power to mediate land use decisions. Abuse is a very great possibility in that the vested commercial interests can be lobbied before an election, and promises made re appointments - with the resulting mega financial backing towards winning the election. The abuse could bias an election process such that the whole process begins with the candidates all running to the same business interests and bidding for the largest pie. The actual decision about which party wins an election, therefore, does not rest with the public but rather with the backroom contacts and negotions taken place prior to the public election.
- (Added 4 Sep 06) For problems the OMB does decide to tackle, make it OMB policy to proactively search out all of those who may be affected by the issue and have and implement a mechanism that allows all those people to receive information and have a say in the outcome. WHY? This ensures that the decision is made democratically and that the decision will be the true will of a majority of the population in the affected area.
- Abolish the OMB.
Progress towards a Solution
|18 May 2006
||Met with Jeff Seaton, and discussed these issues in detail.
|5 May 2006
||Received a positive response from a private citizen.
|4 May 2006
||Received a very positive response from Jeff Seaton, councillor candidate for Kanata.
|3 May 2006
||Emailed all councillors and certain members of the Ontario legislature.
(proposal for OMB reform, that also requests public feedback)
(example of the power of the OMB)