I am frequently asked about the steps involved in a Toronto Local Appeal Body (“TLAB”) hearing and I thought I would share some of my insights with you through this blog entry that highlights the 10 steps to the TLAB hearing process. I have included a graphic at the end of this blog entry that I think provides a handy visual summary of the process.
If you have any questions about the TLAB process, please do not hesitate to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 1: The Committee of Adjustment Hearing - The Committee hearing is a valuable source of information. It gives you clues into who might appear before the TLAB and what position they may take. You will want to pay close attention to whether City staff and/or the City Councillor have any issues with the application. All of this information allows you to make strategic decisions on how to successfully seek approval of / oppose an application. If you did not participate in the Committee hearing, not to worry, you can still participate in any proceeding on the application before TLAB.
Step 2: Notice of Appeal - An appeal to the TLAB must be filed within 20 days from the date of the Committee’s decision. There are some limited circumstances where an appeal should be made to the Ontario Municipal Board. The notice of appeal must set out your reasons for the appeal and cite the relevant sections of the City’s Official Plan and Zoning By-law that are the subject of your appeal. There is an appeal fee - $300 for each appeal. You may appeal your application if it's refused, or if you are opposing an application, you can appeal the Committee’s decision on it. You need to file your appeal using TLAB Form 1.
Step 3: Notice of Hearing - The TLAB will issue this document. It provides your hearing date as well as the procedural deadlines for the rest of the filing requirements/ procedural steps. You will want to ensure you review these dates carefully. If you have not already done so, at this point you will want to seriously consider retaining a planner, lawyer and other expert consultants that may be required. Ideally, you will have already retained these experts by this step in the hearing process. There is no standardized timeline for when the Notice of Hearing is released. So far, it appears to occur within 30 days after a Notice of Appeal is filed. The Notice of Hearing together with all other documents filed with the TLAB for a particular matter are available on the City’s website at this link.
Step 4: Applicant’s Disclosure - The Applicant’s Disclosure is due within 15 days after the Notice of Hearing is issued. As an applicant, this is your opportunity to revise your plans and the variances you seek. You will want to get a zoning certificate from the City’s Zoning Examiner to support your revisions, and so you will need to start early to make this filing deadline. It is also helpful to have had some preliminary discussions with those who might oppose your application, so you can consider revising it to hopefully address their concerns. The revisions you make to the variances you seek need to be minor otherwise there are further requirements for providing notice of the revisions. The Applicant's Disclosure must be filed using TLAB Form 3.
Step 5: Notice of Intention to be a Party or Participant: If you are the appellant, you will automatically be a Party to the proceeding. If not, you will need to elect to be a Party or a Participant. This election needs to be filed within 20 days after the Notice of Hearing is issued using TLAB Form 4. A Party may fully participate in a proceeding, including filing motions, calling evidence, making arguments, cross examining other witnesses, however a Party may be subject to a cost award. A Participant has a more limited role in a hearing. It includes being a witness, providing an oral and written statement to the TLAB and being questioned by the Parties. A Participant is not subject to a cost award.
Step 6: Document Disclosure: Within 30 days after the Notice of Hearing is issued, if you are a Party you will need to file every document or relevant portion of a public document you intend to rely on or produce at the hearing. This can include documents that are original work prepared by witnesses. Your witnesses will need sufficient time to prepare these documents, and so it’s important to retain them early on in the process.
Step 7: Witness Statements/ Participant Statements / Expert Witness Statements - These statements must be filed within 45 days after the Notice of Hearing is issued using TLAB Form 12 (Witness Statements), TLAB Form 13 (Participant Statements), and/or TLAB Form 14 (Expert Witness Statements). These statements provide an overview of the evidence your witness/expert witness or you as a Participant intend to provide the TLAB at the hearing. There are specific requirements for what must be included in these statements. A review of all statements filed with the TLAB will give you further insight into what evidence each Party and/or Participant intends to provide the TLAB, and therefore a better picture of your chances of success before the TLAB.
Step 8: Filing of Motions - You may need to file a motion to seek specific procedural relief from the TLAB including asking for the disclosure of documents, adjourning a hearing, filing a settlement, etc. The last day a motion can be heard is 30 days before the hearing. You will need to contact the TLAB’s offices to obtain a date for when your motion can be heard. You will also need to file a motion record 15 days prior to your assigned motion hearing date that outlines your requested relief and includes an affidavit. There are other specific rules about the content of a motion record. A motion is filed using TLAB Form 7. Responses and replies to it are filed using TLAB Form 8 and TLAB Form 9.
Step 9: Mediation - Where the TLAB is of the opinion that there is good reason to believe that one or more of the issues in dispute may be resolved through mediation, it may direct the Parties and such other persons to attend non-binding mediation. So far, it does not appear to be common for the TLAB to direct parties to mediation. Mediation is confidential and typically anything said at the mediation cannot be repeated before a TLAB hearing. The last day mediation can be held is 30 days before the start of the hearing.
Step 10: Hearing/Decision - The hearing occurs in the assigned TLAB Hearing Room on the assigned date and time. This information is disclosed in the Notice of Hearing. A TLAB hearing is open to the pubic and so any one can attend. All evidence presented at the hearing is done digitally and so there rarely is a need for paper. The digital aspects of the hearing process pose new challenges for filing evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and making arguments. I hope to discuss these challenges in a future blog entry. A hearing process typically should take no more than one day, however complicated cases may take longer. The TLAB will typically reserve its decision following the hearing and it says that it aims to release its written decisions within 30 days of the hearing date, however more complex cases may take longer. So far it appears the TLAB has been meeting this target for release of its decisions.
Figure 1: TLAB Process [click on image for a larger view]
Related Blog Posts:
TLAB Hearings - Some Insights from Experience
Other TLAB Blog Posts:
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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
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City of Toronto’s "Made-for-Toronto Local Appeal Body" Public Consultations On Now