Mandin optimistic Bill 139 can offer balance

Toronto civil litigator Stephany Mandin tells Law Times she’s optimistic that last month’s enactment of Bill 139 will help balance a municipality’s power to make decisions with the province’s authority to step in.

The bill, called the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, replaces the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), the quasi-judicial body that deals with development proposal appeals, with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT)

Mandin, founder of Mandin Law who practises civil, constitutional and administrative law, hopes the new regime will give more deference to municipal councils while demanding the municipalities be accountable and follow sound planning principles, says the article.

“The legal test will be does the proposal follow the official planning rules,” she says.

“And though it’s premature, one hopes this will better frame the question as to whether a municipality has overstepped itself.”

The issue at the heart of the Law Times article is the battle over Glen Abbey, the iconic home of the Canadian Open Golf Tournament.

The golf course, located in Oakville, Ont., has been the most frequent host — 30 times — of the Canadian Open since it began in 1904, but its future has been in doubt since 2015 when owner ClubLink filed plans to turn the property into a residential area with retail and office space, reports the Globe and Mail.

The plan is to construct 3,222 residential units on the site, including nine apartment buildings of between nine and 12 storeys, according to a story in the Toronto Star.

Oakville residents and town council fought back and designated it a property of cultural heritage value or interest under the Ontario Heritage Act, says the Globe. In January, the town passed amendments to its zoning bylaws and official plan in order to restrict building on the site.

Law Times reports that the standoff is heading to court under two different files to be heard in July and September, with ClubLink claiming the town acted ultra vires.

Developers say they are also upset at the political interference and added costs, which they claim will lead to higher housing prices and more red tape, says the article.

Mandin is more optimistic about the transition, says the article.

“Certainly, it’s in the interest of all parties to have sustainable development with a viable approval process, which addresses local needs,” she says.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens when the LPATs are [fully] in play,” says Mandin.