Manitoulin Planning Board questions why province hasn’t rendered approval decision on Official Plan

GORE BAY—The Manitoulin Planning Board feels it is in a flux with issues like Bill 139 and how it will affect the board and planning decisions, because the board has not received  final approval on its Official Plan. The Official Plan had been completed and sent to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in 2017, but has not yet received approval from the province.

“Are we to the point that we need to send a letter to the minister and ask what is going on with our official plan?” asked MPB chair Ken Noland at a recent board meeting.  “I have talked to Jake (Diebolt) and Theresa (Carlisle) (MPB employees) about this. We have been working on our Official Plan for over six years and still haven’t received approval: NEMI (Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands received approval of their OP in several months.”

“Nothing is going to be done until this June (after provincial elections take place),” said board member Paul Moffatt.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               “I can see no harm ( in forwarding a  letter to the province), the chances are nothing will happen, but at least we can go on record as being dissatisfied,” said board member Ian Anderson. “Be frank,” (in his letter) he told Mr. Noland.

The board discussed Ontario Bill 139, which the board had previously raised concerns with, in that it would not allow the board to appeal any decision made by the province.

Mr. Diebolt explained Bill 139, which is now the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watershed Act,  was passed and received Royal Assent from the province on December 12, but has not yet taken effect, and there has been no firm date given as to when it would be rolled out.

“The noise from the province is that it will be spring before this bill is passed,” said Mr. Diebolt, “and it will be phased in by sections in the act.”

Mr. Diebolt said that as far as the appeals process under the bill, if anyone appeals a decision made by the MPB it would normally would go to the Ontario Municipal Board. The difference now with this bill is that it would go to a local planning appeal tribunal. He explained that since the MPB  submitted its Official Plan for approval before the bill passed, it will be heard  by the OMB until the bill takes affect; but if the plan is given approval after the new bill is set, the MPB will not be able to make an appeal to the province on any parts of it.

“As far as our concerns that were brought forward previously, they didn’t make any of the changes we wanted,” said Mr. Diebolt.

“So in our Official Plan if the ministry writes in something we don’t want, we won’t have the right to appeal,” said Mr. Noland.