The first activity moving towards an OMB (now re-named LPAT – Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) hearing is the pre-hearing. The pre-hearing is a forum at which the duration and date of the eventual hearing is established. Much of that determination depends on what roles the various "players" will play at the hearing. At the pre-hearing, "players" seek status as either a party or a participant. Party status allows one to present witnesses and to cross-examine witnesses called by the other parties at the hearing proper. It also requires a commitment in terms of time (one is required to appear throughout the hearing which may last weeks) and cost (mostly for printed documentation and display boards). Participants need only appear at an agreed date/time and may incur little or no expense. They say their bit and may need to answer questions on cross-examination. Party status obviously allows one to participate more fully in the hearing’s outcome. Issues not raised by the City can be championed and issues dear to the hearts of participants can be supported. At the very least, party status satisfies this maxim … if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu (quote thanks to Chris Glover).