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Province to replace Ontario Municipal Board

The province plans to overhaul the Ontario Municipal Board and give more power to cities.

THUNDER BAY -- City planners with Thunder Bay's Development Department are reacting to the province's announcement to overhaul the Ontario Municipal Board.

Over the past decade, there have been many local projects that have been delayed after opponents appealed to the OMB, such as Prince Arthur's Landing, the Marriott Hotel and the Wacky Wings restaurant.

Municipal Affairs Minister Bill Mauro announced Wednesday that the OMB will be replaced with something called the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal.

The tribunal would only be able to overturn municipal council decisions if they do not conform to city plans or are inconsistent with provincial policies.

City planners believe the transition will give municipalities, and its citizens, a stronger voice.

City Planning Services director Leslie McEachern believes a Planning Appeal Support Centre will be proposed.

“The centre would be an agency that offers information, guidance and advice to individuals who are interested in the appeal process,” McEachern said.

“I think anytime that additional resources are made available to the public to help them navigate these processes, which can be somewhat complicated, is a good thing.”

Some developers have expressed concerns that the changes would impede construction.

However, city officials say those concerns are more relevant to Southern Ontario, and don't anticipate such issues here due to a lack of appeals.

The official legislation has not yet been released.

(TBT News)