Councillor Shelley Carroll

Find out the latest news and upcoming events in your neighborhood. Politics, news, views, and links from Ward 33 Councillor Shelley Carroll.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Buchan Court OMB

The Ontario Municipal Board Hearing on 25 Buchan Court, the old Bloorview Children's Hospital site, was adjourned today. The decision will take a few weeks. It is torture for a Politician to observe these proceedings without speaking, though our silence is always advised by the solicitor. The Developer's attorney is always certain to try to take apart the local politician on a witness stand.

But I had no need to woory. Area residents gave excellent deputations of professional quality. They demonstrated how exhaustive our working group study of this application has been and that objections are reasonable and based on fact.

I've drafted an article for the Bayview Post, included below:

It might be tempting fate to say the OMB hearing on the former Bloorview Children’s Hospital site went well. The hearing has just adjourned and the tribunal’s decision will not surface for weeks, but it has to be said, there is indication that OMB adjudicators are playing by the new rulebook.

When the Province introduced a Bill to reform the OMB, earlier this year, Torontonians were underwhelmed, if that’s a word. New wording such as “shall have regard to City Council’s position,” seemed lackluster. It seemed unlikely to change the frequent practice of steamrolling right over our development refusals. But twice lately, Ward 33 has had projects before the OMB and we have witnessed this new “Regard for Council’s position.”

In the Bloorview case, council did refuse the application and the adjudicator stopped several times during the 4 days of hearings to ask for clarifications in this regard. Community members gave several professional-quality deputations and they had the adjudicator’s attention in a way I haven’t witnessed in years past.

Last month, the final hearing on an even larger application in Parkway Forest came before the tribunal. Like Bloorview, this hearing had only one adjudicator, surprising given the size of the application and the complexity of the file. This was not a case of refusal but rather a request from Council to be granted significant authority to continue negotiating certain reductions as well as authority to review and make requirements of the developer throughout several years of phased development.

The adjudicator was attentive to the details of the City’s submission. She stopped the Developer’s attorney on the one item where the Developer and the local school board had settled an amount different than that suggested by Toronto Council.

A new day may be dawning at the Ontario Municipal Board. What is still needed, however, is to adequately fund this overseer of development province wide. The total lack of technology and staff in these hearings remains a complete shock and an insult to citizens. There is nothing to provide tribunal members with adequate records. They furiously scribble their own notes throughout lengthy legal summations.

Come to that, how about more tribunal members. These are crucial decisions. I would ask the Province if one adjudicator with zero support should be burdened with the fate of an entire neighbourhood.