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Three former mayors of Toronto on why the More Homes Built Faster Act disempowers municipalities — and needs a serious rethink before proceeding – Nov. 14, 2022


As former mayors of Toronto, we support the idea of rules and regulations which create more affordable housing in Toronto and in other cities, and doing so in a timely manner. But Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, proposes to make changes which are a significant attack on municipal powers and finances, and it needs a serious rethink.

First, it is improper to hold hearings on this legislation now, when councils are no longer in session. Since old councils are disempowered and the new councils just elected have not yet been sworn in, no municipality in Ontario is able to take a position on this important legislation — even though if given a chance, most municipal councils would strongly object to it. Not much new housing will be created if municipalities realize the province is disempowering them.

The provincial government must pause until at least January or February and allow municipalities to respond to this legislation.

Residents and community groups will be prevented from appealing municipal planning decisions to the Ontario Land Tribunal (the old OMB), and only developers will be able to appeal, as well as some government agencies. Municipalities will not be required to hold public meetings on plans of subdivisions, making it almost impossible for citizens to have any say on something as important as new plans of subdivision. The tribunal is encouraged to award costs against those who are unsuccessful. Ministerial Zoning Orders — which already proceed without public input — will be made for land around transit stops without consulting the municipality, as though the minister is the best person to make local decisions.

Resident input into planning decisions is critical to good municipal decisions. Reducing and eliminating the role of residents in these decisions is a serious step backward.

Bill 23 hopes to encourage rental housing, including affordable and non-profit housing and inclusionary zoning units, by preventing municipalities from levying development charges. Most municipalities have such limited sources of revenues that they rely on development charges to provide for water and sewage infrastructure as well as other services.

The bill reduces development charges for the first four years of any residential development. Rental housing developments will have more substantial reductions, and non-profit developments and those created in existing homes will be exempted entirely. Parkland dedications for affordable housing will be cut in half. Community benefit charges will be capped by regulation.

It is entirely unfair to require municipalities, already stressed for revenue, to pay for these provincial initiatives. What programs will be cut by municipalities to pay for necessary services and for parkland? The province should be contributing the money necessary to support these changes. The bill makes no mention of the province helping financially to create affordable housing.

Even though there is a shortage of affordable housing, the power of municipalities to protect existing housing units and the tenants in them will be substantially reduced.

Developers can meet their parkland requirements by suggesting their own land for parks. This is an entirely improper method of ensuring there is sufficient good parkland for a healthy community.

Municipalities are restricted in using site plan control on new buildings, and developments of 10 or fewer units are entirely exempted from site plan control.

This makes no sense.


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