Appearing before a Municipal Council can be intimidating, especially in larger municipalities, where the meetings are often conducted in a formal manner, much like a court room proceeding. Even Council meetings in smaller municipalities, which tend to be less formal, have protocols to be followed.
Robert’s Rules of Order sets out the common rules and procedures for deliberation and debate. The Province’s Municipal Act, R.S.O., as amended, also provides specific procedures and regulations for Municipal Councils and Committees. Add to this the fact that each local municipality has its own set of procedures governing Deputations Before Council.
The planning process outlined in the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, as amended, is designed to be a public process. Your participation in this public process and your input into decision-making by elected officials is important. At the same time, appearing before a Municipal Planning Advisory Committee to express either support for or objection to a planning application bring with it, additional stress and uncertainty.
EcoVue’s planners appear regularly before Councils, Committees and Tribunals for all manner of planning-related matters. We are familiar with many of the Councils and staff in the municipalities where we appear on behalf of our clients and EcoVue is well regarded by these municipal representatives.
- EcoVue represents our clients in discussions with staff beginning with pre-consultation and extending through the review process for applications, to attendance before the Municipality’s Land Division Committee, Committee of Adjustment, Planning Advisory Committee, Committee of the Whole and Regular or Special Meetings of Council. At these meetings we provide professional planning opinions, on behalf of our clients. We listen to comments provided by staff and elected representatives, as well as members of the public. Because we understand the implications of what is being said, we can respond to concerns and questions raised. EcoVue’s planners draw upon not only our familiarity with the application itself but also upon our many years of experience with similar situations and the overall planning policy environment. Through our involvement we can seek better outcomes for our clients.
- In the case of disagreements between neighbours, the Ontario Municipal Board has traditionally been the final step in appeals of local decisions. In late 2017, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) replaced the OMB as the appeal body for such concerns. Rather than have concerns escalate to the point of an Appeal, it is often possible to bring forward your concerns at a Public Meeting for consideration prior to a decision being made. In the case of local planning issues, EcoVue can review the planning application on your behalf, to determine whether what is being proposed is good planning. We ask ourselves “Is this application supported by planning policy? and Is it in public interest?” Sometimes, an adjustment to the proposal, such as the introduction of a fence or hedge, a reduction in overall height or an increased setback can make a big difference on the impact felt by neighbours. Simply by bringing forward your concerns, you may be successful in having the application deferred and a subsequent change made to the application. In other cases, we may conclude the proposal lacks planning merit. In these cases, we may prepare a letter on your behalf, for Council’s consideration. We will attend Council to speak to our letter, thereby representing your concerns to Council. Council will take your comments into consideration when a decision is made. While EcoVue cannot guarantee that Council will ultimately decide in your favour, we can assure you that concerns will be heard within the public forum.