OMB rulings leave Sudbury residents frustrated
Some residents who have appealed developments to the OMB level say it's a waste of time
Posted: Oct 11, 2012 12:28 PM ET
Last Updated: Oct 11, 2012 12:22 PM ET
The final decision on many controversial subdivisions voted on by city council last year will be made by the Ontario Municipal Board — a provincial body that some people think shouldn’t exist at all.
"I personally think the OMB needs to be abolished. I think we need to get rid of it right now,” said Paula Worton, who went to the Ontario Municipal Board and lost a few years ago.Paula Worton of Sudbury tried to bring her concerns to the Ontario Municipal Board concerning developing the Lily Creek area, but lost her appeal. (Erik White/CBC)
The wetland in the south end of Sudbury she was fighting for has now been built over. But Worton hasn't stopped fighting the OMB.
Worton said she believes unelected bureaucrats shouldn't be able to overrule city council.
But Laura Higgs from the Sudbury Homebuilders Association said the municipal board is needed to take the politics out of planning.
"Development is political, we get that,” she said.
“But there are rules set out here and we're following the rules and you're still turning us down? So, we need the OMB."
Sudbury city councillor Dave Kilgour said it's better when the city isn't trumped by the board.
Waste of time
Developers and the city negotiate dozens of conditions on each project — everything from flooding controls to new traffic lights the developer has to pay for.
Kilgour said all that is lost when the OMB gets involved.
"Those things that protect the city and protect the residents and protect the environment, may not be on the table anymore,” Kilgour said.
Community groups often raise tens of thousands of dollars to take their case to the provincial panel.
But according to Rod Larocque, who unsuccessfully fought plans to build a truck stop near his Sudbury home about 10 years ago, appealing to the Municipal Board is a waste of time, because residents can't compete with "people with a lot of money who can leverage the system to their advantage."
But appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board, and hiring lawyers and other experts to prove their case, is also expensive for construction companies.
Usually "a developer wouldn't appeal to the OMB, unless they were pretty certain they were going to win,” Higgs said.
The first two Sudbury developments to be considered by the Municipal Board this fall are both appeals by the developers.
A waterfront subdivision on Lake Wahnapitae and a condo building on Long Lake Road were both turned down by Sudbury city council.
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