As the dust from the election settles, the next big event on the municipal calendar is the Nov. 6 case management conference, the first step in hearing the legal appeals aimed at stopping the Kingsway Entertainment District.
Here's a few things to know:
The conference is being held by the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT), which took over from the Ontario Municipal Board last year. Unlike the OMB, which took years to make a decision, the LPAT is supposed to wrap up its process within a year, in this case, June 2019.
Also unlike the OMB, which acted as if a municipality hadn't made a decision and heard the case from scratch, the LPAT is supposed to go through the decision, hear from the parties, and decide whether planning laws have been broken. If they have, they also have the power to suggest to a city how they can change their decision to make it legal, if that's an option.
The Nov. 6 meeting is a chance for members of the tribunal to identify exactly what each party is looking for, to try and narrow issues in dispute if they can, and, as the LPAT's website says, “identify facts that may be agreed upon, and provide directions for disclosure of information.”
Members of the tribunal can also look for ways of gaining a settlement, such as suggesting arbitration or mediation.
Greater Sudbury and the groups and individuals who filed the appeals can participate in the conference, although members of the public may attend to watch.
Members of the tribunal will have already familiarized themselves with the appeal documents and the city's responses and they may ask any of the parties for more information. They will also decide whether the hearing will be held in person, by writing only, who can attend the hearing and the issues that need to be resolved.
Both sides can speak with the tribunal during the conference, but are not allowed to contact them outside of the meeting, to ensure the appearance of impartialty.
The next step depends on what transpires at the case management conference. If mediation is accepted, the parties will meet with a mediator, where they will try to settle or at least narrow the issues that need to be dealt with.
If mediation is not an option, or fails to solve the dispute, a hearing will be scheduled. Participants can make submissions up to 75 minutes in length, based on what was in their appeal documents. No new evidence can be presented, and they can't ask questions of the tribunal.
The tribunal can, however, ask questions of the parties, and may request expert witnesses be present to respond.
After the case management conference, parties can request a special hearing to have the LPAT decide on a motion – for example, to dismiss the case, or to provide documents. The request can be refused, or a hearing will be scheduled to deal with the motion. The request must be made at least 15 days before the main hearing is scheduled.
While most LPAT decisions are considered final, a last resort for parties unhappy with the decision is to go to Divisional Court and convince a judge there are ground to hear an appeal.
The Nov. 6 conference begins at 10 a.m. in rooms C and D of the Provincial Building downtown.