Sunday, June 27, 2010

We Need the OMB

Getting back to my earlier blog on the Kitchener/Cedar Hill Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) decision (June 23rd) you’ll recall that I had more to say.

Here it is - for what it’s worth.

Remember I am not planner but… This case should give pause to those who question the value of the OMB.

What looked like good planning by the City Of Kitchener back in 2003 unravelled when the Interim Control By-Law was put in place without the additional study that was supposed to go along with it.

From where I blog it is hard to really get what happened. Reading the OMB Interim Decision, though, suggests that between the Council Committee meeting and the full Council meeting politicians changed their minds; or had their minds changed.

The “high priority” additional study was rejected at Council when elected officials voted to remove the clause that directed staff to do that work.

At the Regional level planning staff kept on expressing concern that the phase two analysis wasn’t happening. What happened?

City Planner Jeffrey Willmer gave this explanation as cited in the OMB documents:

{There was a} "shortage of leadership resources… Those efforts were not successful in having a new leader step up, and there were competing calls for resources.”

Got that?

No one appealed the laughably named Interim Control By-law. It continues in effect more than seven years after being put in place.

Human Rights Concerns

There’s a significant human rights issue here too.

Ontario Human Rights Commission Chief Barbara Hall notes:

“People with disabilities or on social assistance were the targets; they were told in effect ‘we don’t want more people like you in this neigbournood.’ The Human Rights Code says you can’t discriminate like that.”

Housing expert, Michael Shapcott, notes:

“Housing advocates have long argued that municipal restrictions that limit, or ban entirely, certain types of housing and services from certain neighbourhoods can amount to unfair discrimination and a violation of human rights laws."

The OMB has given the municipality 15 months to get it right. Let’s see what happens.

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