We all agree that more housing is needed, but Bill 23’s method is controversial, unlikely to achieve its goals, and disregards broader impacts and implications related to quality, liveability and safety.
We want this bill to achieve its stated goals by soliciting municipal, conservation, organization, and public input. Bill 23’s strategic timing to coincide with council transitions silences reason and jeopardizes our housing crisis solution.
Bill 23 reduces developer development charges, community benefits charges, and parkland levies, widening the municipal funding gap for infrastructure and services to support growth. Delaying maintenance and replacement projects to focus on growth will worsen our roads, sidewalks, and other infrastructure. Municipalities will cover the provincially mandated shortfall by cutting services and infrastructure maintenance and raising property taxes.
Instead of lowering construction costs to make new housing more affordable, this bill raises property taxes to compensate for lost revenue. The additional tax increase could be called the Ford levy to remind voters in four years. Alternatively, name it after the local MPP who voted for the bill.
Bill 23 ignores a 20-year land reserve that doesn’t require other Greenbelt or environmentally sensitive lands. Ontario’s construction workforce can’t build 1.5 million homes in 10 years. Our shortage of experienced construction workers is raising costs and delaying projects. With the World Cup underway, perhaps our government intends to bring Qatar’s foreign construction workers to help. Maybe the first homes they will have to build are their own.
Parks promote community integration, mental and physical health, and child and adolescent development. During COVID-19, the public demanded safer walking and cycling routes to more parks and green spaces. Bill 23 would reduce developer land conveyed or paid in lieu and complicate municipal planners’ decisions. We can’t skimp on parkland to compensate for the lack of backyards in multi-level and rental housing.
While Bill 23 requires municipalities and conservation authorities to comply, there is no such requirement for developers who receive this provincial and local tax and ratepayer handout. None of the legislative changes address developers’ obligation to pass on cost savings to new home buyers and renters. Instead, it is assumed.
If you’re angry about Bill 23, join a rally or write or call your MPP. To remain silent is to condone this questionable bill.