Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ontario Municipal Board: Now with free spell checking

Some people see the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) as a body which protects property owners from municipalities unreasonably limiting their property rights. Perhaps that's what was intended when the board was created in 1897. Then again, 1897 featured corrupt municipal officials in almost every major city on the continent.

Today, the OMB has become nothing more than an avenue for developers to undermine municipal planners and decision makers (and I say this as a student of Ryerson University's School of Urban and Regional Planning). Further evidence of this fact, and the need to reform the board, can be seen in the story of the Trump Tower to be built at Bay & Adelaide.

Originally proposed at 70 stories, a classmate of mine told me a few months ago that the tower would be losing 13 stories. According to the Trump officials, it is because of poor sales. According to my classmate, it was actually a strategy used by Trump before where a super-tall is proposed to build hype, while always intending to scale when units are sold. Either way, the city approved the new plan for 57 stories. Then, things took a turn.

Trump has appealed the decisions to the OMB, claiming that they now need 59 stories to accommodate mechanical equipment. That's right - they appealed the city's ruling (which they won), because of an engineering oversight.

So apparently, you don't need to cross your T's and dot you I's when applying for a building permit. You just need to get your kid to sketch a building on construction paper with crayons, throw it at the municipality in a crumpled ball, then appeal to the OMB when they laugh you out of city hall.

The Ontario Municipal Board must be reformed.

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At 7/25/2007 5:24 p.m. , Blogger VillageMayor said...

There is some half truths about the OMB. There was an OMB case in Ajax. The developer proposes to convert employment lands to residential. Clearly this is not consistent, or even have regards, to various Provincial policies. The OMB approved the application, but the Town of Ajax appealed to the Divisional Court. The OMB had agreed to reexamine the case, and the verdict was in favour of the Town. This goes to show that OMB needs to be more careful in their decision, that just "good planning" is not an excuse to approve.


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