Should the province pick up the tab municipalities are incurring defending their official plans before the Ontario Municipal Board?

Halton regional chairperson Gary Carr thinks so and York Region officials agree.

Halton’s official plan passed unanimously at its council, but the region now faces 41 OMB appeals stemming from a pair of amendments imposed by the province to bring the document into conformity with the Ontario Places to Grow plan.

Under the circumstances, Mr. Carr does not think it is fair Halton taxpayers should be out of pocket to defend a plan that adheres to provincial legislation.

“We don’t feel we should have to pay all of the costs when we’ve met all of the requirements,” he said. “We’re expecting some sort of a reply from them.”

Halton passed a resolution re-affirming its three-year-old request to the province that it take responsibility for all OMB appeals launched in connection with a municipality’s conformity with the Place to Grow Act and cover any accrued costs.

The resolution from Halton was sent to the Municipal Affairs and Housing Ministry, several MPPs and a upper and lower-tier municipalities, including York Region.

York Region chairperson Bill Fisch understands where his Halton counterpart’s point of view.

York made a similar proposal in 2010, he said, adding it wasn’t successful.

“We didn’t get any money from the province, but we have had a high degree of co-operation from them on some of the appeals we’ve faced,” he said. “But, no, they didn’t give us a cheque.”

An official plan is a document drafted and passed by a municipality or region and, while it must comply with all pertinent legislation and receive provincial approval, it’s ultimately the municipal or regional government responsible to defend it, Mr. Fisch said.

York’s official plan has also been appealed to the OMB.

Municipalities hold dominion over land-use planning, including how best to apply provincial policies locally and, as a result, must be prepared to defend their decisions if an appeal comes forward, Municipal Affairs and Housing Ministry spokesperson May Nazar said.

Municipalities are responsible governments that have the authority to make most local land-use planning decisions, she stated via e-mail.

Those decisions are based on their official plans, which reflect priorities and the broader provincial interests, she added.