Hands tied on OMB issue: MPPs
Appeal motion coming
The City of Brampton plans to file a Notice of Motion in court by the end of this week asking for leave to appeal the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) approval of a multi-highrise development in Heart Lake.
City lawyers will file the motion in the Divisional Court. Once filed, a hearing date will be set.
The city must convince a judge that an appeal is warranted. It has to be shown that there is new information, or an error in law was made by the OMB in the decision-making process.
Meanwhile, residents are continuing to put pressure on provincial politicians to reverse the decision and make changes to the OMB. The number of members on a protest Facebook page is nearing 2,000. On the page, Stop Heart Lake High-Rises, residents are circulating petitions and there is talk of organizing a peaceful protest.
City councillors are urging residents to “get busy” filing petitions with their MPPs in an effort to turn up the heat on the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) which approved a controversial high-rise development in Heart Lake last month.
But Brampton’s provincial representatives say public pleas won’t do any good as government rules prevent them from getting involved in the matter.
“As a minister I am prevented from making statements about matters that are before the courts or tribunals,” said Linda Jeffrey, Brampton-Springdale MPP and minister of natural resources. “Statements that could be seen to prejudge a court matter or drawing a conclusion about an issue in a case could result in a contempt of court proceeding and have the potential of interfering with the integrity of the proceedings.”
City council is contesting an OMB decision that favours a developer proposing to build a multi-high-rise at the northwest corner of Sandalwood Parkway and Conestoga Drive.
The OMB ruling, which came down April 15, has outraged area residents and has been called a “slap in the face” by municipal politicians who unanimously voted against the 834-unit, six tower development.
Councillors question whether the OMB should have the power to supersede a unanimous decision made by municipal representatives, supported by residents, and have called for new legislation that would curb the independent tribunal’s ability to do so in the future.
To hammer home their point, councillors are encouraging residents to gather signatures, make phone calls and write e-mails expressing their disapproval of the OMB’s decision to support the Heart Lake project.
Residents have heeded the call and have flooded local MPPs with phone calls and e-mails demanding they take a stand on the issue.
But Jeffrey and her Brampton colleagues say their hands are tied with respect to this situation.
“Unfortunately many letters I have received in the last few days request that I interfere with or influence the legal process, which is a punishable offense and contrary to the oath I signed as a member (of provincial parliament) and a minister,” Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey, who represents the riding where the development is taking place, quoted a ruling made by Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner stating parliamentary convention prohibits all ministers from personally appearing or advocating on behalf of stakeholders in an OMB matter.
“Any action could reasonably be considered as attempting to influence or interfere in a decision, contrary to the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994,” Jeffrey continued.
Her Brampton counterparts have taken a similar stance on the matter.
“It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the Heart Lake ruling because this matter can still be appealed to the OMB and to the judiciary,” added Brampton West MPP Vic Dhillon.
Dhillon did, however, comment generally on the role of the OMB and suggested the body should “strongly give deference to the views of our locally elected municipal representatives.”
Dr. Kuldip Kular, Bramalea-Gore-Malton MPP, also avoided weighing-in on the controversy.
Kular said he “really appreciates the genuine concerns raised by the residents of Brampton” and has shared their concerns with Ontario’s minister of municipal affairs and housing as well as the attorney general.
Mississauga-Brampton South MPP Amrit Mangat was not immediately available for comment.