Major flaw in Ontario Municipal Board decision
Larry Newman’s article on the recent OMB approval of a high-rise building at 560 Rideau (“Action Sandy Hill shoots, OMB scores” in the February-March issue of IMAGE) does not convey fully a major flaw in that approval, namely its apparent subjectivity.
In dismissing ASH’s appeal, the OMB wrote that the ASH witness was “evasive” and that “his opinions were based largely on academic theory” while the developer’s “witnesses provided the Board with a detailed analysis of the applicable policies and maintained their land use planning opinions under cross-examination.”
Such reasons for decision are deeply unsatisfactory as they appear to be based more on the impression that various witnesses made during the hearing rather than objective criteria whose application can be tested in a transparent and rigorous fashion. Justifying the approval of a multi-million dollar project on the basis that “I liked this witness more than that witness” rather than through the testing of agreed and explicit land use planning principles comes across as arbitrary and does nothing to strengthen the public’s confidence in the OMB’s impartiality, competence or usefulness.