Posted on January 13, 2010 (updated: January 13, 2010)

Court Grants Permission To Appeal King City – Oak Ridges Moraine OMB Decision

The four citizens’ groups that recently asked the Ontario Municipal Board Hearing to make dramatic changes to the King Township and York Region Official Plan Amendments, have been given permission by the Divisional Court to bring a full appeal of the OMB decision. This Court decision automatically suspends the earlier decision of the OMB. That decision would have permitted the population of King City, located on the Oak Ridges Moraine, to more than double, growing onto prime agricultural land, and the town to build a sewer system that connects to the massive York-Durham sewer system that empties into Lake Ontario over 40 km away.

The Sierra Legal Defence Fund, on behalf of King City Preserve the Village Inc., Concerned Citizens of King Township Inc., Nobleton Alert Residents Association Inc. and STORM (Save the Oak Ridges Moraine) Coalition Inc. argued the application for leave to appeal at the end of June. Mr. Justice Campbell, of the Divisional Court heard two days of argument and issued his decision today. The groups can now launch the appeal itself, and it is anticipated that the case will be heard this fall.

“The Court has found that the issues in this case are of significant public importance, and that there is reason to question the correctness of the OMB decision. This is a very positive step towards my clients’ goal of protecting the Oak Ridges Moraine from environmental degradation and continued urban sprawl,” said Elizabeth Christie, the Sierra Legal lawyer who argued the case. “These environmental community groups have now been given the opportunity to appeal the OMB decision and halt the juggernaut that seems to be pushing development onto the Oak Ridges Moraine. King City straddles the East Humber River, a National Heritage River. This is the first time the Court has agreed to look at the OMB’s interpretation of the Oak Ridges Moraine Guidelines, the provincial policy document intended to protect the Moraine.”

Among the grounds for the appeal that have been granted are that:

  • The Board failed to have regard to several key provincial policy statements;
  • The Board failed to make the necessary findings to show that the King City Community Plan conforms with the requirements of the Regional Official Plan; and
  • The Board failed to consider the King City Community Plan in a Regional context, deferring instead to local political will.

“There are a number of laws that are intended to protect rivers like the East Humber, and to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine. Those laws are meaningless if they are not properly applied by the Ontario Municipal Board,” said Elizabeth Christie, with Sierra Legal, a non-profit organization that provides legal assistance to citizens and environmental groups across the country.

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