Toronto construction

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Last spring, Rosario Marchese, the Member of Provincial Parliament for Trinity-Spadina, put forward a private member’s bill to make Toronto exempt from the Ontario Municipal Board’s jurisdiction.

The provincially appointed board is the final body of appeal on planning decisions, something that Marchese and his supporters believe shouldn’t be the case – if Toronto’s city planners decide against a development or a re-zoning, their decision should stick.

The bill passed its second reading in 2013 and went to public hearings today. One of Marchese’s arguments for jettisoning the board is that the members of the OMB are appointed and not elected. Some of the MPPs that support the bill argue that the board members have too much sway over local planning issues.

Since the OMB is a bit of a mystery to many, we decided to look into the tribunal that hears applications and appeals on municipal and planning matters. A look at the backgrounds of board members shows a number of lawyers, planners, two former mayors and a previous MPP.

As with a lot of top-tier public servants, there are a high number of board members on the province’s Sunshine List, which details public sector employees paid $100,000 or more in a calendar year.

Tenure lengths differ greatly as well, with one member being on board since 1988. Want all the details? Check out the full list of the OMB members below:

Lynda Catherine E. Tanaka

Role: Executive Chair of Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario
Location: Toronto
Tenure: May 16th 2011 to May 15th 2014
Total length of tenure: Three years
Salary: $178,412.26

Background: Tanaka practiced administrative law, appearing before some of the ELTO boards, and civil litigation. Her other designations include Chartered Arbitrator (ADR Institute of Canada Inc.), Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (U.K.) and Certified Director (Institute of Corporate Directors).

High profile hearing: Tanaka was behind the motion that stopped the construction of two industrial wind turbines in Wainfleet, Ontario.

Shing Kan Wilson Lee 

Role: Associate Chair (Full-time)
Location: Toronto
Tenure: July 1st 1988 to May 1st 2015
Total length of tenure: More than 26 years
Salary: $156,637

Background: Lee was an assistant regional solicitor with the Regional Municipality of Peel for ten years and an assistant regional solicitor for the Regional Municipality of Sudbury.

High profile hearing: Lee was part of the panel that approved a 19-storey condo near Avenue and St. Clair. The proposal had been rejected by the city and had been appealed at the board three times.

Karlene Hussey

Role: Vice-Chair (Full-time)
Location: Stratford
Tenure: April 25th 2005 to January 3rd 2016
Total length of tenure: Nearly 11 years
Salary: $122,204.21

Background: Hussey has a Bachelor of Science from the University of the West Indies and an LLB from the College of Law, England. She’s also a senate member of the Stratford Shakespearean Festival of Canada Board of Trustees.

High profile decisions: Hussey issued the decision regarding the fate of a parcel of land beside the David David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill. The design allowed Corsica to build 530 homes on the eastern portion of the site, rather than 833 homes it wanted to build originally.

Jerry DeMarco

Role: Alternate Executive Chair of Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario
Location: Toronto
Tenure: September 1st 2010 to August 31st 2015
Total length of tenure: Five years
Salary: $159,447.57 (as Chair of Environmental Review Tribunal)

Background: DeMarco has a law degree from the University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Windsor and Master’s degrees in Science (University of Toronto), Management (McGill University), and Environmental Studies (York University) and is a professional planner.  He’s also Associate Chair of the Conservation Review Board, Associate Chair of the Environmental Review Tribunal and a Member of the Assessment Review Board, Board of Negotiation.

Blair S. Taylor 

Role: Member (Full-time)
Location: Oakville
Tenure: October 17th 2012 to October 16th 2014
Total length of tenure: Two years
Salary: Between $93,050 – $99,999

Background: Taylor holds a Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo, a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Laws degree from York University. He practiced law in the municipal and development field representing both public and private sectors.

High profile decision: Taylor ruled in favour of in favour of a proposed six-storey condo at the northeast corner of Queen Street and Woodbine Avenue in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood.

John Peter Atcheson

Role: Member (Full-Time)
Location: Brantford
Tenure: July 5th 2004 to July 4th 2015
Total length of tenure: 11 years
Salary: $105,986.14

Background: Atcheson holds a Master of Science degree in Urban Planning from the University of Toronto and is the former Commissioner of Community Development Services for the City of Brantford.

High profile decision: In a 2009 hearing, Atcheson delivered the decision directing the Ministry of Natural Resources not to issue a quarry licence north of Havelock. The Centre for the Conservation of Specialized Species was located about 3,000 feet from the proposed limestone aggregate quarry.

Dunlap Observatory

Photo: Arthur Kantemirov/Flickr

Susan de Avellar Schiller

Role: Vice-Chair (Full-time)
Location: Oakville
Tenure: September 6th 2005 to January 3rd 2016
Total length of tenure: Just over 10 years
Salary: $122,204.21

Background: Schiller was an MPP from 1981 to 1987. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from St. Lawrence University and a Master of Public Administration degree from New York University.

High profile hearing: The Vice-Chair delivered the decision that wrapped up a seven-year fight over an illegally built addition to a house in Toronto’s Harbord Village.

Steven Stefanko

Role: Vice-Chair (Full-time )
Location: London
Tenure: April 20th 2005 – January 3rd 2016
Total length of tenure: Just over 10 years
Salary: $122,204.21

Background: Stefanko has a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario. He was appointed to the OMB in 2005 and has served as a full-time vice-chair since 2011.

High profile hearing: Stefanko delivered the decision approving a zoning bylaw and changes to the town’s official plan that allows for housing subdivisions around the Lakewood Golf Course in Tecumseh.

Jan de Pencier Seaborn 

Role: Vice-Chair (Full-time)
Location: Toronto
Tenure: May 31st 2000 to March 22nd 2016
Total length of tenure: Nearly 16 years
Salary: $131,000.22

Background: Seaborn holds BA and LLB degrees and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1983. She has served as a Vice-Chair of the Assessment Review Board and prior to that appointment in 1998, she was a partner in the regulatory, planning and environmental department of a Toronto law firm.

High profile hearing: After more than 40 developers appealed the Town of Richmond Hill’s official plan calling for one hectare of land per every 300 residential units built, Seaborn ruled that Richmond Hill could not set an absolute and unjustified parkland rate for developers.

James R. McKenzie

Role: Vice-Chair (Full-time)
Location: Thornhill
Tenure: July 3rd 2007 to July 2nd 2017
Total length of tenure: Ten years
Salary: $131,000.22

Background: McKenzie is a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and is a Registered Professional Planner.

High profile hearing: McKenzie ruled against a proposal to put a 700,000 square foot retail complex, likely anchored by a Walmart, in the Leslieville neighbourhood in Toronto.

Leslieville

Photo: Kieran Huggins/Flickr

Jyoti V. Zuidema

Role: Vice-Chair (Full-time)
Location: Brantford
Tenure: August 20th 2007 to August 19th 2017
Total length of tenure: Ten years
Salary: $131,000.22

Background: Zuidema holds a Master of Laws, a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 1991 practised in the public and private sector, representing both municipal and provincial governments in the area of municipal and development law.

High profile hearing: In 2013, Zuidema delivered the decision to reclassify 555 hectares of farmland around the Hamilton airport for development — the largest urban boundary expansion in the city’s history.

Richard G.M. Makuch

Role: Member (Full-time)
Location: Orleans
Tenure: June 13th 2012 to June 12th 2014
Total length of tenure: Two years
Salary: Between $93,050 – $99,999

Background: Makuch has a a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola College and Bachelor of Laws degrees from both the University of Ottawa and the Law Society of Upper Canada. He was previously an OMB member from 1998 to 2006. He is also Deputy Commissioner in the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals, Canada Pension Plan/Old Age Security.

High profile hearing: Makuch was involved in the Lynwood Charlton Centre hearing in Hamilton. After two years, the OMB overturned the city’s attempt to block the centre’s move to 121 Augusta St. by denying a zoning bylaw amendment.

Joseph E. Sniezek

Role: Member (Full-time)
Location: Sault Ste. Marie
Tenure: June 23rd 2004 to June 22nd 2014
Total length of tenure: Ten years
Salary: $105,986.14

Background: Sniezek is a member of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and a graduate of the Faculty of Environmental Studies of the University of Waterloo.

High profile hearing: Sniezek released the OMB’s decision to allow aggregates-extraction at the Wawa quarry near Michipicoten Harbour.

Maureen Carter-Whitney

Role: Member (Full-time)
Location: Toronto
Tenure: August 15th 2012 to August 14th 2014
Total length of tenure: Two years
Salary: Between $93,050 – $99,999

Background: Carter-Whitney has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School.

High profile hearing: Carter-Whitney delivered the decision ruling against a homeowner’s request to sever their lot in Bloor West Village, Toronto into three parcels to build three detached dwellings. The move saved a nearly five-storey, decades-old tree that neighbours have fought to rescue for several years.

Jason Chee-Hing 

Role: Member (Full-time)
Location: Richmond Hill
Tenure: September 1st 2004 to August 31st 2014
Total length of Tenure: Ten years
Salary: $105,986.14

Background: A member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Ontario Professional Planners Institute, Chee-Hing holds a Master in Environmental Studies from York University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts (Urban and Regional Planning) and Certificate in Public Administration from Ryerson University.

Helen Jackson

Role: Member (Full-time)
Location: Toronto
Tenure: May 24th 2011 to May 23rd 2016
Total length of tenure: Five years
Salary: Between $93,050 and $99,999

Background: Jackson has a BSc in Biology from Queen’s University and a BSc in Geology from the University of Alberta and is a Senior Hydrogeologist at Coffey Geotechnics.

High profile hearing: Jackson is currently involved in the Braeside Quarry expansion hearings in the Ottawa Valley.

Marc Denhez  

Role: Member (Full-time)
Location: Ottawa
Tenure: May 31st 2004 to May 30th 2016
Total length of tenure: Five years
Salary: $105,986.14

Background: Denhez was called to the Ontario Bar in 1978 and called to the Québec Bar in 1975. He has advised on legal policy, governance and drafting in ten provinces, over a dozen countries, and at UNESCO.

High profile hearing: Denhez delivered the ruling rejecting two 16- and 14-storey high-rises in the Westboro neighbourhood of Ottawa.

Reid Rossi

Role: Member (Full-time)
Location: Toronto
Tenure: May 31st 2004 to May 30th 2016
Total length of tenure: 12 years
Salary: $105,986.14

Background: Rossi served as a consultant to the United Nations in communications and humanitarian affairs and was formerly the Executive Director of the Canadian Housing & Renewal Association in Ottawa.

High profile hearing: Rossi delivered the OMB decision allowing for a 30-storey tower to be built on Church Street, despite an earlier decision by the City of Toronto that rejected the proposal.

Colin Hefferon 

Role: Member (Full-time)
Location: Scarborough
Tenure: September 20th 2006 to September 19th 2016
Total length of tenure: 10 years
Salary: $105,986.14

Background: Hefferon holds a BA from the University of Toronto and a MES from York University. He has worked in land use planning and real estate development in both the public and private sectors.

High profile hearing: Hefferon delivered the ruling upholding the City of Stratford’s decision opposing a Walmart on the eastern border of the city, an issue that was drawn out for eight years.

Sylvia Sutherland 

Role: Member (Full-time)
Location: Peterborough
Tenure: March 21st 2007 to March 20th 2017
Total length of tenure: 10 years
Salary: $105,986.14

Background: Sutherland served as the Mayor of Peterbourgh for 15 years. She has a diploma in journalism from the Ryerson Institute of Technology, a BA (Hons) in history from Trent University, and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Reading (UK).

High profile hearing: Sutherland delivered the judgment ordering the City of Kingston to include post-secondary students in its population counts that determine electoral districts.

Christopher L. Conti

Role: Member (Full-time)
Location: Oshawa
Tenure: July 3rd 2007 to July 2nd 2017
Total Length of Tenure: 10 years.
Salary: $105,986.14

Background: Conti holds a Master in Environmental Studies from York University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto. He was formerly an Environmental Planner with the Ministry of Natural Resources.

High profile hearing: Conti was involved in the hearings for the Hardy Road corridor in Brantford.

Mary-Anne Sills 

Role: Member (Full-time)
Location: Bellevillle
Tenure: July 3rd 2007 to July 2nd 2017
Total length of tenure: 10 years
Salary: $105,986.14

Background: Sills was formerly a Municipal Councillor and Mayor of the City of Belleville from 1988 to 2006. She is a graduate of Loyalist College in Belleville.

High profile hearing: Markham city council initially rejected a Taoist temple’s application for rezoning and site plan approval. Sills delivered the decision okaying the plans, which she felt were sensitive to the surrounding neighbourhood.

Alan David Levy

Role: Member (Part-time)
Location: Toronto
Tenure: November 6th 2013 to November 5th 2015
Total length of tenure: Two years
Salary: $398 per diem

Background: Levy holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto. He’s also a Roster Mediator with the Ontario Mandatory Mediation Program, Superior Court of Justice and has been a member of the Environmental Review Tribunal since 2007.

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