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  • Writer's pictureMary Asselstine

Bill 23 – “The Promote Urban Sprawl & Get Rid Of That Pesky Green Space Act”

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

On October 25, 2022 the Ontario government tabled Bill 23, the More Homes, Built Faster Act.

According to the government this Bill is designed to address the “Housing Crisis” in Ontario and supports the construction of 1.5 million new housing units over the next ten years.

On the surface this seems laudable however the legislation fails to acknowledge that there is also an “Affordability Crisis”, a “Climate Crisis”, a “Species Diversity Crisis”, and a “Crisis in Democracy”. This myopic single issue legislation will do more harm than good and it is unclear who will actually benefit from it.


Let’s look at just a few of the details:


Your taxes are at risk of going up!

Development charges (fees levied to developers to pay for new infrastructure and services), and your tax dollar pay in part for the introduction of new residential development. Bill 23 proposes a reduction in Development Charges in an effort to reduce the price of new homes. In reality, there is no guarantee that lower home prices will result. What is likely to happen however, is that your taxes will go up to support new development.


Conservation Authorities and York Region Planners provide assistance to the Township of King on matters of natural hazards, conservation of wetlands and woodlots, watershed planning, growth management, transportation planning, and service infrastructure.


Bill 23 cuts both the Region of York and the Conservation Authorities in part out of the local planning process downloading the roles to the Township of King. If we want to continue to implement the vision in our Official Plan new tools and staff resources will be required for King Township. As a result, it is likely that your taxes will go up.


Our Vision for Our Communities is at Risk

Over the last few years the Township of King has completed a new Official Plan, new Zoning By-laws for the Villages and a Rural Zoning Bylaw. These documents form the vision that we chose for our communities. Along with these planning documents we have tools such as the Green Development Standards and the Village Design Guidelines that are implemented through “Site Plan Control”. These standards and guidelines help to encourage modern energy efficient and sustainable building designs and help to protect the character of our heritage and established neighbourhoods.


Bill 23 limits the ability of municipalities to apply “Site Plan Control”. So on a lot by lot basis, in our established neighbourhoods, there will be no ability to protect the character of the neighbourhood or encourage sustainable building design.


In addition, Bill 23 has made it much more difficult to protect heritage character by putting new rules and limitations on the application of the Heritage Act.


Your right to have a say in the future of your community is at risk

Major changes to the Planning Act through the application of Bill 23 will severely limit your right to be involved. When planning applications are made for the development of a subdivision, there will no longer be a requirement for a statutory public meeting. Concerns from the public will consequently be heard later in the approval process when it is less likely to have any influence on the outcome. In addition, members of the public will no longer have any right to appeal a decision to the Ontario Lands Tribunal.


Our environment is at risk

The Conservation Authorities have many roles including helping to protect our communities from the impact of natural hazards; protecting environmentally sensitive lands such as wetlands; and, assisting the Township of King by providing direction on development applications.


Bill 23 will seriously compromise the role of the Conservation Authorities by allowing exemptions from natural hazard permits, allowing wetlands to be drained and built upon, opening Conservation Authority lands for sale to the development industry and preventing municipalities from entering into agreements with conservation authorities to review planning applications on their behalf.


The Bill also sets the stage for urban expansion and future sprawl. Following the tabling of this Bill the Ontario Government proposed opening up Greenbelt Lands for development. These lands, which are outside of the defined urban boundary, have historically been protected to safe guard our drinking water, protect agricultural lands and protect sensitive ecosystems.


Conclusion


We need more homes, but what we need is increased density in existing urban areas (soft density) and support for more affordable units. There is enough existing designated residential land to accommodate growth for decades to come.


There is no need for Bill 23.


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