The information on this page is provided by the Town of Halton Hills in an effort to provide answers to what might be frequently asked questions regarding the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and appeals of Planning Act applications to the OMB (OMB).
The Environmental and Land Tribunals Office (ELTO) oversees a number of Provincially appointed appeal bodies including the OMB. The ELTO, OMB and the Province of Ontario provide information to the general public and applicants that describe the rules and processes of the OMB and offer further contact information for the public. Nothing on this page replaces information otherwise made available by the Province or the OMB and any information on this page should not be relied upon as guidance regarding consideration of matters before the OMB.
The Town has prepared a general frequently asked questions (see below) to provide some basic information on the Ontario Municipal Board and Ontario Municipal Board Appeals. The Province of Ontario has introduced legislation to reform the Ontario Municipal Board but this has not yet received final approval.
What is the OMB?
The OMB is a Provincially appointed body designed to hear appeals of various matters related to land disputes and Planning Act applications in Ontario including applications for approval of Official Plan Amendments, Zoning Bylaw Amendments, Subdivisions, Condominiums, Minor Variances, Consents and Site Plans (among other things).
The OMB has its own decision making framework, procedures, protocols and even terminology that is unique to it.
The OMB has offices in downtown Toronto and is comprised of Provincially appointed members and staff including caseworkers who are assigned to each file. Pre-hearings and full Hearings usually occur on location in the municipalities where the appeals originate. Occasionally Board hearings or mediation meetings may take place at the OMB offices in downtown Toronto.
A link to the current list of Provincially appointed OMB members can be found here:
The Applicant for a Planning Act application or any member of the public or organization that has an interest in the application who meets the necessary criteria (see below) has the right to appeal a decision by the Town to the Ontario Municipal Board.
An appeal of a Planning Act application occurs when a proposal is referred to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) for a decision to be made. Once an application has been appealed to the OMB the Town no longer has jurisdiction over the decision making process.
Appeal of a Decision
After a decision is made by Town Council or the Committee of Adjustment a prescribed 20 day appeal period occurs during which an applicant or interested party who meets the applicable appeal criteria that are set out in the Planning Act (usually providing comment prior to the decision being made or making oral submission at a qualifying meeting) may appeal a decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Appeal of Non-Decision
An applicant can appeal the lack of a decision by either of Town Council or the Committee of Adjustment within the time frames specified in the Planning Act (the timeframes vary depending on the application type). The applicant does not need to provide a reason why they have appealed a lack of decision.
For example: An applicant may appeal a lack of decision on a Zoning Bylaw Amendment application within 120 days if Council has not made a decision within that time frame. In filing this tyoe of appeal the applicant does not need to demonstrate any other reason for the appeal than the absence of a decision.
Does the municipality within which an OMB appeal is filed have notification or other statutory obligations to the public relative to the appeal and Board procedures?
Once an appeal to the OMB is filed the Town no longer has jurisdiction of the file and the OMB itself takes over the notification, proceedings and decision making process.
What does it mean to be a "party" or a "participant" at an OMB hearing?
The Town, itself, must declare its interest in an appeal if it wishes to be involved as a "participant" or "party" to the proceedings. The public is notified by the applicant, acting on behalf of the OMB (see example) and, if members of the public wish to be involved in the proceedings, they need to declare their interest to the Ontario Municipal Board as a "party" or "participant." Maintaining either status allows for varying degrees of involvement in the OMB process. The following link describes this in detail:
Notices are provided to property owners within a set distance of the subject property (as required in the Planning Act) and/or to those who have shown an interest in the file. The OMB determines the final notification list.
A pre-hearing is scheduled at a local facility. In Halton Hills it usually occurs in the Town Hall Council Chambers during the day.
A series of pre-hearings, scheduled with the agreement of those involved, typically take place and deal with the process and scoping of issues that will eventually form the scope and subject of the actual hearing.
The final hearing may be scheduled for 1 day or several weeks depending on the complexity of the application and related issues. Sometimes the issues are all resolved before the hearing and a settlement is reached with one or more of the parties. Parties may withdraw from the proceedings if they wish to do so. If the issues aren't resolved then the outstanding issues are the subject of the hearing.
Usually there will be one Board Member in attendance overseeing the proceedings for the hearing. Sometimes a junior member of the Board who is "in training" will accompany the other more experienced Board member and there will 2 OMB members in attendance.
The setting of the hearing is similar to that of a court room. For example, people stand when the Board member enters the room. It is common for lawyers to represent those involved. People with "participant" or "party" status will likely be in attendance. The hearings are open to the public.
Witnesses are identified during the pre-hearings, they file evidence in advance of the hearing that is available for review before the hearing commences and provide evidence, swearing an oath, taking a position to the side of the Board member and are subject to questioning/cross examination by the lawyers or individuals representing the various parties.
At the conclusion of the hearing the Board member typically prepares a written decision which may take several weeks or months to complete. The final decision is circulated to the interested parties and posted on the OMB website.
What about OMB reform?
The Province has tabled draft legislation that will result in revisions to how the OMB conducts its business. This reform is the subject of public debate. A link to some discussion on OMB reform can be found on the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website here:
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