Don’t Shut Down the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre

In late February, word came around that the newly created Support Centre to help communities in provincial planning matters would shut down by June and would not take on any new clients.

Since it opened its doors in April, it has dealt with 570 requests from 168 communities!  What better proof that this kind of help is badly needed.

So we’re not taking this lying down:

Here is a press release, issued March 5, 2019 by the Greenspace Alliance, Ecology Ottawa and the Federation of Citizens’ Associations of Ottawa.

And go here to sign a letter (or compose your own) to The Hon. Caroline Mulroney, Attorney General of Ontario:

Short form:

Twitter handle: #KeepLPASupportCentreOpen.

Spread the word!

For background, please go here. The Local Planning Appeal Support Centre Act (2017) was part of Bill 139, which came into force on April 3, 2018.

On February 25, 2019 the 18-member Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods of Ontario (F.U.N.) has written to the Attorney General and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in protest, concluding “We call on the Provincial Government, if you are truly “For the People” to reverse this unfortunate and short-sighted decision.”

Joyce Sankey, in an April 18, 2019 guest blog on the Ontario Nature web site, offers two examples of how the Centre has helped citizen groups: the battle for Thundering Waters (Niagara Falls), and a fight about a parking garage in Kitchener that, with the help of the Centre, led to a settlement.

Media coverage

Mike Crawley (Queen’s Park reporter) in on February 23, 2019: “Ford Government shuts down agency that helps people fight zoning appeals — Opposition accuses PCs of doing favours for developers by closing new support centre”

Allan Benner in the St-Catherine’s Standard of February 28, 2019: “Loss of planning appeal support centre ‘an outrage'”

Interview of Mindy Sichel by Alan Neal on Ottawa CBC Radio 1’s All in a Day, March 6, 2019 (11 min)

UPDATE – December 2019

Schedule 3 (later Schedule 2) of the government’s Bill 132 (introduced on October 28) proposed the formal end to the Centre by repealing the LPASC Act.  In its submission, CELA recommended against it — ref. its Appendix A.  Quote:

CELA … recommends that the Ontario government should reconsider the proposed repeal of the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre Act, 2017. In the alternative, the Ontario government should develop and fund an efficient substitute for the Support Centre and the important services that it provided to the people of Ontario.

The deadline for comments was November 27.  (The Alliance endorsed a submission from Environmental Defence; it did not comment on the repeal of the LPASC Act.)  The Bill received Royal Assent on December 10.