The West River Residents Association submitted the following letter to the Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario and the Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in response to Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act:
RE: Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022
As a residents’ association in Oakville’s Ward 2 the West River Residents Association (WRRA) understands the need for more affordable housing on an urgent basis: not in the future, but now for our children, our aging parents, friends, current Ontarians and newcomers. The creation for more homes and affordable housing does require an action plan, for which you are to be commended. However, to succeed, we must have an integrated planning process which will ensure livable, sustainable, and complete communities for future generations.
Bill 23 contains positive ideas to address the short-term crisis in housing, but we have concerns that other provisions will have negative consequences which in the long term will undermine the very goal of Bill 23.
We expect you, our government, to tackle the problem of scarce and unaffordable housing with a clear and detailed plan which is grounded in good planning, and sound environmental and fiscal principles.
Bill 23 makes broad drastic changes such as opening up the Greenbelt for development, removing upper tier regional authority over planning, permitting up to three residential units as-of-right on every existing residential lot, and granting exemptions from many requirements including development charges, parkland requirements, and heritage. At this stage, Bill 23 lacks the necessary details for almost every proposed change. Without the details necessary to implement these changes, the negative consequences will overtake any positive action: instead of more affordable housing now, it will be time-consuming, laborious, and expensive to deliver the housing supply we need now.
Bill 23 proposes eliminating development charges which are used to pay for the infrastructure and services new development requires. We believe very strongly that growth should pay for growth. Without development charges, municipalities will have to increase property taxes and both sewer and water rates, which puts a burden on existing residents and businesses. In effect, they will be subsidizing all new development. Increasing home ownership costs seems counter-intuitive to the goal of improving housing affordability and livability across the province. Furthermore, there is no mechanism for ensuring the savings are passed onto the end purchasers, thereby resulting in more affordable housing prices.
Bill 23 also proposes to permit up to three units as-of right on every residential lot across the province without details on what setbacks and zoning restrictions, will apply. Nor does it provide details on how existing residential neighborhoods will accommodate growth, such as increased flooding risk, upgrades to road networks, to infrastructure and to community amenities (libraries, parks, etc). Nor does it provide details as to who will pay for the needed upgrades. With the proposed exemptions for development charges, parkland requirements and community benefit charges, the cost of growth will be placed on current homeowners and businesses who have already invested in their homes and, through their taxes, in their community. A more thoughtful and balanced plan is needed to address these concerns.
Instead of rushing through with Bill 23 before our recently elected municipal representatives are sworn in to their positions, we respectfully ask you to push “pause” and establish a forum to overhaul the Bill with a focus on the details needed to both increase the housing supply and encourage more affordable housing in a fiscally responsible and environmentally sound manner, to ensure we have livable, sustainable, and complete communities for all in Ontario.
Thank you for your consideration.
President, West River Residents’ Association