Ontario Construction News staff writer
York Region council passed a motion Nov. 10 opposing the province’s Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, and asking the premier to consult with municipalities.
The bill was introduced recently and includes proposals that Housing Minister Steve Clark says will speed up construction by removing development charges on residential and non-residential building, freezing conservation authority fees and set housing targets for municipalities.
“The implications are so huge,” Mayor John Taylor said at the council meeting. “We have to rapidly mobilize as a municipality. … We have to take a really strong stand.”
A 30-day commenting period as started on the bill, and the province has also announced its plan to allow residential development on portions of the Greenbelt across the province.
Bill 23 sets housing targets for area municipalities, including a 12,000 new home target for Newmarket by 2031 even though the town has sewage capacity for about 2,000 more homes.
York Region’s motion requests the Government of Ontario to halt Bill 23 and convene the consultation with the Housing Supply Action Plan Implementation Team (HSAPIT) to ensure municipalities can work in partnership with the province to address the housing affordability crisis in our communities.
“Regional Council and The Regional Municipality of York remain aligned with the provincial goal of building more homes and increasing the speed of approvals, but we do have concerns with the proposed legislation,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. “As proposed, Bill 23 will have considerable and complex economic, social and environmental impacts and will significantly impact how municipal governments recover the costs associated with growth.”
Because Bill 23 amends nine acts, it would limit the ways municipalities can finance growth related infrastructure and may, in reality, contradict the goal of building more affordable housing, according to York Region.
“The concept that growth should pay for growth is a long-held practice of governments around the world,” said City of Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti. “In bringing forward this motion and asking the province to take a pause on Bill 23, Regional Council is asking the province to collaborate and work with its municipal partners to address the affordable housing crisis while ensuring the financial burden of growth-related infrastructure does not sit with our existing property taxpayers.”
York Region is hoping to unite municipalities present recommendations that support local planning decisions.
The Regional Municipality of York consists of nine local cities and towns representing 1.2 million residents.