Freeing Toronto of the OMB is an excellent idea
Adam Vaughan can be a polarizing politician, but his proposal for a local body that would supplant the Ontario Municipal Board on minor variance issues is something that should unite city council.
After the OMB’s recent decision to allow an illegally built addition to a Toronto house, after all other appeals by the homeowner had been denied for seven years, councillors have to be fed up with the unelected body.
Vaughan wants to tap into a section of the City of Toronto Act that would allow the city to assume control of the process that governs planning when it relates to minor variances.
Big issues that involve major development would still go to the OMB, but if the city had its own panel, it’s a lot less likely that a bizarre decision such as the approval of the illegal addition would happen.
If there’s widespread support on council for the creation of a local body, it would be hard for the province to turn it down. The OMB has alienated a lot of other municipalities that would no doubt like to get rid of it, but only the City of Toronto Act has provisions for taking the variance process local.
Concerns have been raised that it could become overtly political and subject to NIMBYism if it was handled locally. But after the OMB overturned the city’s consistent rejection of all appeals on the
illegal addition, I’d take my chances on it.
The only thing that might bog it down is enmity towards Vaughan. That would be overtly political, and too bad.