Natural Hazards at the Ontario Municipal Board: An Analysis of Ontario Municipal Board Decisions Between 2001 and 2005 on Planning Applications With a Significant Natural Hazard Component.
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In Ontario, land planning decisions are delegated primarily to local decision makers. In cases where a decision is disputed, parties may appeal the outcome to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The Board is provincially legislated to hear land planning cases in a quasi-judicial format and has the power to make binding decisions. These decisions are often contentious, as they are perceived as over-ruling local elected decision makers, as supporting a pro-development stance or as confirming the belief that appointed members of the board may make decisions that are outside their areas of expertise. Local land planning decisions that approve or refuse development in areas affected by natural hazard constraints are one type of appeal that the OMB may hear. This report examines the written decisions of OMB members on appeals made under the 1997 Provincial Policy Statement between 2000 and 2005 which have a significant natural hazard component. Specifically, the decisions are subjected to a content analysis to understand the general character of the appeals, what the outcome is and what rationale is provided for the final decision. The rationale, or reasons, provided in the written decisions make specific references to the evidence that guided the OMB member final decision.