On Friday, July 12, I sent an open letter to the Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in response to a Toronto Star article posted on July 10 regarding the resolution Halton Regional Council passed on that same day, asking the Province of Ontario to eliminate the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).
A copy of the resolution passed at Halton Regional Council is available here: LPAT Resolution Halton Regional Council July 10.
Please see the Open Letter to Honourable Minister Steve Clark below:
Dear Minister Clark,
On July 10th, Halton Region Council unanimously passed a motion to eliminate the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). I am attaching a copy of the resolution for your information.
I noted your recent comments to the Toronto Star and wanted to respond to some of the points you mentioned. I will share this letter with my constituents in an effort to keep them informed as well, especially given the high degree of interest in this topic.
My municipal colleagues in Halton and I are united in our desire to eliminate the LPAT. Ontario is the only province with an unelected body governing local planning decisions. Communities are successfully built across our country without this additional layer of bureaucracy and we believe it’s time Ontario’s cities are similarly empowered with the same abilities and autonomy that exist throughout the rest of Canada.
Furthermore, the costs and delays involved in the appeals process run in stark opposition to the very goals your provincial government has said it is trying to achieve: saving money and getting more housing to market, cheaper and faster. The LPAT achieves neither.
The backlog of cases that you referenced in your email to media this week was created during the transition to the LPAT because developers knew the former Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) rules were more favourable to them. As a result, many filed “preemptive” appeals as soon as they could. This was done not based on any decision by a council, but because they simply wanted to “preserve” their rights under the old OMB rules. They wanted to be grandfathered in — and they were.
Now, we’re headed back to the OMB rules as a result of Bill 108, and towards what we believe will be even longer hearings and more delays.
The LPAT didn’t create the backlog and reverting to the old OMB rules won’t solve the problem; it will make it worse. The backlog is the direct result of what we’ve been saying all along: the OMB is weighted against local decision-making and toward an “anything goes” approach. That’s why the developers have clogged the system with appeals under the old rules.
To provide a specific example, we can look the development proposed for 92 Plains Road East in Burlington. The developer’s appeal was made in April of 2018. The appellant made an offer to settle the appeal in March 2019, with the offer being accepted in April 2019. A settlement hearing is scheduled for September 2019 at which time the Tribunal will decide on the appeal. If the appellant had not appealed and simply continued in the application consideration process, the amendments to the development could have been made much earlier, and Council consideration and a decision would have been reached in 2018.
The irony of this situation is that if the OMB had not existed, and the developers hadn’t preemptively applied during the transition to LPAT to preserve rights to an OMB hearing, they would already have had their housing approval, shovels would be in the ground, and we would all be saving time and money.
This system is not serving anyone. Our communities’ voices are being overridden and valuable time and money is being wasted that could be better spent on front-line services and the priorities city councils have been democratically elected to implement for the citizens who elected us.
We need to eliminate the LPAT and join the rest of Canada in empowering our local governments to make the best decisions about how their cities continue to grow and evolve. I am asking you to work with your government to eliminate the LPAT, a costly, time-consuming, undemocratic body that delays the delivery of housing.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward
City of Burlington