OMB decision on illegal addition not a game changer, says municipal law expert
Posted in the Georgetown Forum
#1 Sep 8, 2013
It's a decision that councillor Adam Vaughan says has opened the doors to illegal construction.
After a seven-year legal battle, the Ontario Municipal Board decided last month to let a Harbord Village couple keep their illegal addition. The board resolves land use planning disputes across the province.
Shih and Yang Tseng have been doing battle with the city of Toronto since 2006 over the two-storey add-on to the Victorian home they live in. It's owned by their New York City based daughter, a lawyer.
The couple claims they didn't know they needed a permit for the build. The city contends they knew, but just didn't bother.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, councillor Vaughan suggests now, there's nothing to stop condo developers from building extra storeys without permission.
But municipal law expert John Mascarin doesn't think the OMB's decision is a game-changer. He does tell Newstalk 1010 that people break building rules, intentionally or not, "more often than anyone would ever think".
"I don't think it would create a precedent everyone going 'Oh, well I'll build and then I'll get my approval afterwards because it would be looked at more favourably'", said Mascarin.
Even though the Tsengs were allowed to keep their addition, Mascarin says people who build first, ask for permission later aren't looked at more favourably than those who get the permits first.
Even though they skipped procedures and got to keep the end result, Mascarin says the OMB decision on the Tsengs doesn't entitle people who paid for inspections and permits to recoup any costs from the city.
Councillor Vaughan tells the Star he now wants to "destroy" the OMB.
John Mascarin points out Toronto and every other Ontario municipality has the ability to create its own version of the OMB to handle minor variance applications.
Mascarin figures Toronto hasn't set up its own board because the OMB is a convenient scapegoat.
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