On November 7 council meeting there is a staff report on the subject of Bill 23; specifically It presents our staff assessment of the impact on King. The implications are significant and very complex. This report coupled with comments received at the council meeting will be forwarded to the various provincial ministries who have initiated the changes. As I have indicated in an earlier post I consider most of Bill 23 to be very regressive and there is no indication as to how the intent of building affordable homes will be achieved. This staff report only reinforces my initial assessment. Below are some comments in response to reading the report.
The changes to the Conservation Act, as proposed, jeopardizes a goal in Our King Official Plan to be a leader in Environmental Conservation and to be excellent stewards of Ontario’s environmental landscape. We can only do this with the expertise of the conservation authorities, namely the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority and the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority. If this resource is eliminated King will need to acquire the same skills by hiring or contracting. Either way this will be costs which can only be recovered in property taxes. But the consequences are actually much greater if there is to be a goal of being sustainable. A municipality cannot monitor and manage its natural heritage in isolation of other municipalities in the same watershed.
The changes to the Development Charges Act and Planning Act are purportedly to reduce the cost of developing housing and to create cost savings for new home buyers and renters. As reviewed in the report there are many ways that the costs for developers will be reduced. But, there is no indication as to how those lower costs will be enjoyed by a new home buyer or a renter. Furthermore, there is no indication as to how the municipality is to support the new growth with the lower revenue stream from the developers. Some have already suggested that a solution to addressing the latter would be for the province to provide extra funds to the municipalities to make up the difference. I don’t favor that solution as that would mean all Ontario taxpayers would be subsidizing development. The reduced parkland requirements is in essence a degradation of communities. Given the popularity of our parks and green spaces throughout the pandemic I am surprised that there would be a suggestion to reduce the amount of parkland and the quality. The latter is at risk because Bill 23 reduces the ability of the municipality to define what kind of park space is required and needed.
The changes to the Ontario Heritage Act are complex; and as the OHA itself is complex to begin with it is difficult to appreciate the significance of the changes. As I am on the Heritage Advisory Committee it’s my perspective that the big challenge will be meeting the timelines included in Bill 23. e.g. King currently has 150 listed properties; these are properties considered to have cultural heritage value but a thorough review of that value has not been completed. The benefit of having them listed is that HAC and Council is alerted if there is a request to demolish; when the latter occurs the necessary work is done to determine if there is adequate cultural heritage value to merit designation. Today this work is done in a tight time frame of 60 days. Bill 23 says that the 150 listed properties need to be reviewed to see if there is adequate cultural heritage value to designate them in two years. If not completed the properties will be “delisted” and will no longer be on the municipal register. After being removed from the munipcal register the only way to protect a property will be to designate it; it will not be allowed to put it back on the municipal register as a undesignated property until there is a time lapse of 5 years.
The right of citizens to appeal decisions is being reduced. Although appeals often don’t result in “wins” the opportunity is there. Under Bill 23 appeals to minor variance are eliminated; 3rd party appeals to zonng bylaws and more is eliminated.
The Staff report reviews the changes proposed to zoning. Of interest is the right to 3 residential units to one lot. I can understand how creation of apartments would be valuable but I struggle with the idea that there would be no review of feasibility. Can it be assumed that municipal services are adequate? And, where does the apartment person park the car?
I am shocked by the decision for the YDSS (“the big pipe”) to be expanded to convey sewage from communities in Upper York service area to the Duffin Creek Pollution Plant on Lake Ontario. I thought it was a fundamental principle that water from the two water basins are not to be mixed.
In summary: if Bill 23 is passed as is quality of life in Ontario will be reduced and it is not assured that there will be more affordable homes.
As always I am interested in your comments. If you wish to make a deputation to Council you can register to make a deputation to Council by registering at [email protected] by noon on November 7. Alternatively you can send in comments or questions to [email protected] and your email will be circulated to Council and relevant Staff members.