How Does the LPAT Match-Up? A Comparative Analysis of Ontario’s Current and Former Land Use Planning Appeal Board
The Ontario Municipal Board (“OMB”) was recently abolished and replaced by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (“LPAT”) as a result of stakeholder dissatisfaction with the appeal process. This research paper analyses characteristics of both the current and former appeal tribunals and concludes that the OMB provided a more just process than the LPAT. Specifically, the OMB permitted a greater number of issues to be appealed on more expansive grounds, the submission of new information and cross-examination during the appeal process, all participants to make oral submissions, and had impartial tribunal members make a greater number of decisions. The analysis exposes some equity related issues with the OMB, such as the high costs to participate in an appeal. However, the LPAT does not adequately address these concerns. Further, the LPAT has created several new concerns of its own, including increasing the weight of municipal planning instruments and the power of municipal decision makers. This paper discusses how increased municipal powers can be an issue in a system that incentivises development, allows the development industry to influence decision makers, and permits inadequate public consultation. This paper suggests that in an attempt to balance the pro-growth influences in land use decisions, more equitable considerations should be required in the planning process. Four additional topics for further research are suggested to support equitable considerations in the planning process. These topics are: the reinstatement of a support centre, requiring increase public consultation in the planning process, ensuring there is a requirement and adequate time to consult if a municipality makes a second decision on the same planning issue, and having the tribunal give more weight to meaningful public consultation.