A (City of Ottawa) staff report coming before council this week suggests we leave the standard of review as it is and instead clarify what it means for the OMB to simply “have regard” to municipal decisions.
This is not a whopper by the two councillors but by city staff. In fact the councillors are very concerned about it.
Queen’s Park is looking to reform the Ontario Municipal Board so that cities have more control over planning decisions.
But check above at the quote from Leiper and Nussbaum. City staff wants to maintain the status quo on planning … thus limiting what Ottawa City Council can do because of expansive powers of the OMB. So what staff is saying that the council to which it reports should not have more power over planning. Does staff not trust council to make the right decision?
This is the city staff that created the concierge program that gave big developers a quick ticket through the city planning process, the city staff that recommended overruling the municipal noise bylaw so that two developers at Lansdowne and the Westboro convent could quickly build their project. (note the convent project is far from finished), and that listened so little to the public that the mayor was forced to create a consultation on consultations (and then it still doesn’t listen).
The planning department is its own little empire at city hall, doesn’t listen to Queen’s Park and most certainly doesn’t listen to the public. Mayor Jim Watson lets the little fiefdom do want it wants.
The planning department is way too close to the development community.
This is not democracy … not democracy at all.
City council must do something about it, irregardless of what Watson thinks.
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