Eight months after the last hearing, Ontario's Local Planning Appeals Tribunal has set Aug. 8 as the date for the next hearing to deal with appeals attempting to stop plans for the multi-million dollar Kingsway Entertainment District.
In a 41-page ruling released today, the LPAT also narrowed down the number of issues that will be dealt with at the hearing, which will take place in Greater Sudbury.
The tribunal also ruled that five of six issues raised by KED opponents -- and to which the city objected -- are not planning issues and are therefore beyond the LPAT's jurisdiction. They include arguments that a referendum was required before a casino was approved.
Lawyer Gordon Petch, who represents businessman Tom Fortin, the Sudbury BIA and clergyman Christopher Duncanson-Hales, argued the tribunal has broad powers to decide what it can rule on, including legislation outside of planning issues.
However the LPAT ruled the legislation it must follow gives it power over “all matters within its jurisdiction under this Act.” Under the LPAT legislation, they are to determine whether a city council decision is consistent with Ontario's Provincial Policy Statement and the local Official Plan. If it isn't, the LPAT can only order the council to make a revised decision.
“Appellants can no longer expect appeals to move forward to hearings based upon planning grounds such as the impact of development on one’s property, incompatibility of a proposal with the neighbourhood, or other specific concerns unless they are related to matters of consistency with a policy statement, conformity or conflict with a provincial plan, or conformity with an Official Plan,” the LPAT said in its ruling.
Therefore it doesn't have the power to rule on policies of establishing a casino made by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Association.
“The tribunal simply has been given specific jurisdiction to deal with matters in the referenced statutes and policy documents, or has jurisdiction because they involve planning issues under the Act,” the ruling says.
The tribunal did, however, direct the city to produce “community economic planning documents that are referred to in the City’s Official Plan,” as Petch requested, in order to provide “clarity” for the tribunal as it makes its decision.
The tribunal also ruled it has no discretion to rule whether the city was fettered – or unfairly biased -- in approving the Kingsway Entertainment District, striking that from the issues because it doesn't have jurisdiction.
And the ruling appears to foreshadow an upper court fight on the issue, as Fortin has already signalled he's willing to do.
“If there are concerns about council’s discretion having been fettered, then this is a matter that should proceed to the Superior Court.”
The case management conference begins at 10 a.m. Aug. 8 at Tom Davies Square. This story will be updated with reaction as it becomes available.