I recently argued a case before the Toronto Local Appeal Body (“TLAB”) and I’ve identified some important issues that came up in that context, which I’d like to share with you. As a professional, I anticipate having more opportunities to appear before the TLAB, and I’ll continue to blog about those experiences in order to develop a series of insights for those who may find that useful. For now, I’ll give a short introduction to the TLAB, and then start with my first important issue - getting started early!
If you have any comments on my blog entries, or even any questions about the TLAB process itself, please do not hesitate to contact me at this link.
The TLAB is a relatively new body - its first contested hearing was held on 1 September 2017. My first contested hearing before the TLAB was on 15 September 2017. So I have had the privilege of arguing one of the first contested hearings ever conducted by the body.
For those who may not know, the TLAB adjudicates appeals of minor variance and/or consent applications in the City of Toronto. Before the TLAB came into existence, all of those appeals were adjudicated by the Ontario Municipal Board (the “OMB”).
The TLAB imposes a number of new procedural requirements that didn’t exist at the OMB, at least in the context of short one-day hearings (which many minor variances and/or consents are). For example, parties seeking to call a witness must file witness statements and/or expert witness statements in advance of the hearing. Participants must similarly file participant statements. Further, all of the documents put forth at a hearing must be digitally pre-filed and digitally presented. I expect how you navigate these challenges will crop up in my later blogs.
But what I’d like to emphasize in this blog entry is the importance of starting early. The TLAB process is so prescriptive in terms of deadlines and it appears that the TLAB expects that these deadlines will be strictly adhered to. Anyone who doesn’t carefully pay attention and respond to the deadlines may face some pitfalls. For example, if you fail to disclose a document by the deadline, the TLAB may disallow the document from being entered in evidence, and that could hurt your case.
Shortly after an appeal is filed, a case file is opened with the TLAB offices and a Notice of Hearing is issued. This process appears to happen fairly quickly. For the case I argued, it took less than 20 days. The Notice of Hearing is what sets out the various steps and deadlines that anyone wishes to participate must follow.
Much of the work is due shortly following the issuance of a Notice of Hearing. For example, nearly all of the documents to be relied on at the hearing are to be disclosed no later than 30 days from the date the Notice of Hearing is served. Witness statements and/or participant statements are due no later than 45 days from the date the Notice of Hearing is served. This means that if you intend to participate in a TLAB hearing, as a Party or Participant, you have got to start thinking about what evidence you will present to TLAB very early in the process.
If you are an appellant party, in my view, you’ve got to start thinking about your evidence prior to filing your appeal. This likely means you’ll need to have already retained any expert witnesses you will call at the hearing.
To the extent that you are going to retain legal counsel to argue your case, you will get the most value from the advice you receive if you retain counsel early in the process.
If you are the applicant, you will also want to consider whether you intend to make any revisions to the plans you presented to the committee of adjustment well before the Notice of Hearing is issued. This is because any revisions to the plans must be disclosed no later than 15 days from the date the Notice of Hearing is served. This is a short timeline to turnaround revised plans, especially when those plans should be accompanied by a revised zoning certificate from the City’s zoning examiner.
Meeting the various procedural deadlines set out by TLAB will greatly improve your chances of success before TLAB. So this is my advice to you - start early!
Related Blog Posts:
TLAB Hearings - 10 Steps to the TLAB Hearing Process
Other TLAB Blog Posts:
City of Toronto Local Appeal Body (“TLAB”) Effective 3 May 2017
Toronto Local Appeal Body: Panel Orientation & 2017 Meeting Schedule Released
Toronto Local Appeal Body Final Candidates Released
City of Toronto Moves Forward in Implementation of Local Appeal Board
City of Toronto Executive Committee to Consider Implementation of a Local Appeal Body
Made-For-Toronto Local Appeal Body Approved
City of Toronto’s "Made-for-Toronto Local Appeal Body" Public Consultations On Now