Shocking new legislation has been tabled which will dramatically change how new development will be approved and built. As proposed the magnitude of risk in terms of quality of community and quality of life is very high; hence it is imperative that there is adequate time for public consultation and consideration at a Standing Committee for Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022. Once you have read further below I urge you to write to your MPP to demand that the Bill not be passed too quickly.
This not just about zoning and building permits; rather it reduces both municipal and public influence on many choices. e.g. One of the ways to have residential units (i.e. homes) built more quickly is to eliminate appeals; Bill 23 eliminates third party appeals for minor variances, zoning bylaws, official plans. e.g. Another way to speed up the process is to eliminate review of architectural detail; Bill 23 reduces the scope of site plan control so that there will be no regulation of architectural design and landscape by the municipality.
- Most egregious because of its long term impact is the proposed change to eliminate the role of conservation authorities in the review process of development applications. This creates many risks including draining and building on wetlands, damaging water courses and wood lots as development is done too close. As I understand Bill 23, regulated buffers are not being eliminated but in the case of King its our conservation authorities who identify the top of bank etc.; if TRCA or LSRCA is not permitted to do it who will? King does not have that expertise nor does our budget have room for hiring such expertise.
2. Given that we have just survived two years of closures which has either forced or inspired people to use parks and open spaces much more than previously it seems somewhat bizarre that the amount of new parkland to be created, as new developments are built, is being reduced. And the amount is even more reduced if the residential units being built are deemed to be affordable ones! Not only will there be less parkland it may not be “quality” land. Currently the municipality can refuse lands identified for parkland in a development; for example, if grade is steep it would not make a good playground. Our open spaces are also at risk as Bill 23 includes the need to assess currently held conservation lands for residential development.
3. We don’t only need more houses, we need affordable houses i.e. <30% income. Bill 23 not only does not address this but I believe that if enacted as it is today, everyone’s property taxes will increase as development charges (DCs)are reduced. In other words, even if the developer does share the benefit of a lower DC annual costs for the home owner will likely increase as the municipality needs to make up for the lower DC’s when building amenities, providing transit.
4. Without the oversight of the Conservation Authorities and their ability to not approve where building occurs or where roads are built, in terms of proximity to natural heritage features, the natural heritage systems, ostensibly protected by the Greenbelt and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan will be degraded over time. This will lead to loss of biodiversity.
5. If passed, as introduced, it will be even more difficult to protect our built heritage. And although significant changes to the Ontario Heritage Act were only made two years ago additional changes are being made.
6. Finally, there is a significant change to how Planning is done. Many upper tier municipalities, including York Region, will no longer have planning authority. Having worked for 3 terms with YR having that authority I have not wrapped my mind around the implications of that.But I think the implications are huge as it wipes out regional planning and co-ordinating infrastructure with growth.
To summarize: Bill 23 proposes substantial changes to 5 statutes which impact King. (There is sixth one which is regarding City of Toronto.) There must be time for careful evaluation as there is high risk for devastating unintended consequences.
If you want to see adequate time being given for public consultation and consideration at a Standing Committee I urge you to contact your MPP. For King Vaughan riding that is Minister Lecce at [email protected] You can start your letter with “I am deeply concerned that the contents of Bill 23 will not be given the time needed for detailed analysis and informed discussion. Please ensure that the Bill is given significant time for both public consultation and consideration at a Standing Committee”.
For your research see below.
- read Bill 23
- Conservation Authority media release
- a newsletter from Aird Berlis providing comprehesive review of Bill 23.