Ontario Passes Housing Bill 23 Despite Critics
Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark.
Ontario on Monday passed a draft housing law intended to spur construction, but critics say it will lead to higher property taxes, weaken the powers of conservation authorities and not actually make homes more affordable.
The new law is just one more step in a wave of recent housing changes by the Progressive Conservative government, including plans to open up some areas of conservation land of the Greenbelt to real estate development and grant the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa the power to pass by-laws with the support of only one-third of city council.
Premier Doug Ford's Housing Pace Delivers on Government's Goal to Build 1.5 Million Homes in 10 Years as Inflation and High Interest Rates Force the Province to revise housing starts projections downwards. Ontario expects to build less than 80,000 new homes per year over the next two years.
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Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark said Ontario faces a serious housing crisis and the province needs bold solutions.
If we are really going to build affordable housing in this province, if all the mayors and councilors who have said in their municipal elections that they want to encourage more housing opportunities in their communities, that is one way government has taken a clear position, Minister Clark said Monday after the bill passed.
One of the most controversial aspects of the bill is the freezing, reduction and exemption of fees paid by real estate developers.
These fees are paid to municipalities and are then used to pay for support services to new homes, such as road and sewer infrastructure and community centers.
L' The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) says the changes could leave municipalities $5 billion short and see taxpayers foot the bill – either in the form of higher property taxes or through service cuts. She also regrets that nothing in the bill will guarantee a better policy for affordable housing.
The bill also limits the criteria conservation authorities can review in development permits, removing factors such as pollution and land conservation.
The Bill 23 is destructive in nature, dismantling environmental protections, says Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.
In a press release, he castigates the lack of proper consultation with, among others, indigenous communities, anti-poverty activists, municipal voices and health care workers whose voices have been ignored and excluded by the government in his decision to push Bill 23 through the Legislature.
“Bill 23 allows land speculators to profit privately from the public value of protected lands.
— Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario
Passing this destructive bill, despite widespread public opposition and without meaningful public consultation , including Indigenous groups, is a dereliction of duty and is inexcusable, he adds.
With information from The Canadian Press