For years, municipal politicians and community leaders complained about the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and the fact that it held an effective veto over municipal planning decisions. After all of that pressure, the Ontario government passed the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal Act, 2017, stripping the OMB of many of its far-reaching powers, and replacing it with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).
What is LPAT?
LPAT is an independent tribunal that hears appeals on a variety of contentious municipal matters. The main role of LPAT in community planning is to resolve disputes related to land use planning applications, such as subdivisions, and planning documents, for example official plans and zoning by-laws. Much like the OMB before it, LPAT is the decision maker that developers and community members can turn to if they disagree with a planning decision made by their municipal government.
Why do we have LPAT?
The reality is, there is often disagreement between community organizations, developers, elected officials and interested individuals, as to how we plan our communities. When municipalities determine where certain types of developments can be built, how intense development can be in certain areas, and which land is protected from further development, there are always going to be those that disagree. LPAT provides an avenue for these disagreements to be determined by an independent decision-making body. Ultimately, LPAT does not have the same breadth of decision-making authority as the OMB did, but it is an important tool for those who unsuccessfully argue against a certain municipal decision.
How does LPAT decide?
Every type of appeal is slightly different, and the criteria to be considered will vary as well, but the main criteria in most appeals is whether the municipality deviated substantially from the provincial and municipal plans and policies. This allows elected officials to retain the majority of the power in the process, but it does create predictability and clarity for other stakeholders in the process. In certain cases, other criteria will come into play and weigh on LPAT’s decision, but some deference is always given to municipal decision makers.
What does this mean for me?
Whether you are a developer, a community organization, company doing business in Ottawa, or interested individual, it is important to understand how municipal decisions can be challenged. The city of Ottawa has a lot of power to impact your life, your property and your business, and understanding the independent body you can appeal their decisions to is going to be important. Whether you are seeking an exception from the planning by-laws, a minor variance, or to oppose some type of development, LPAT may be in your future and we are here to help in preparing an appeal, helping to defend a municipal decision, or simply to discuss your options throughout the consultation process.
For more information regarding the issues addressed in this blog post, please feel free to contact me directly.
Associate – Business Law Group
Disclaimer: This article is provided as an information resource. This article should not be relied upon to make decisions and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified legal professional. In all cases, contact your legal professional for advice on any matter referenced in this document before making decisions. Any use of this document does not constitute a lawyer-client relationship. Please note that this information is current only to the date of posting. The law is constantly changing and always evolving.