Original Published on Nov 12, 2022 at 10:00
Grey County ON sends province list of concerns over ‘more homes’ act
By Chris Fell Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Like many municipalities, Grey County is expressing its concerns about Bill 23 to the provincial government.
At its meeting on Nov. 10, county council considered a staff report about Bill 23 – More Homes Built Faster Act. The report outlined concerns county administration have about changes proposed in the bill. Council voted to sent the report to the province for consideration and will request a delegation in front of the standing committee on heritage, infrastructure and cultural policy.
Director of Planning Scott Taylor reviewed the report with county council at the meeting and said while the county has concerns about Bill 23, there are beneficial aspects to the legislation.
“There are lots of positive changes in Bill 23, there is some good stuff in here,” said Taylor. “There are some unintended consequences that could be problematic to the county and its municipalities.”
Taylor outlined a number of concerns the county plans to convey to the province about the bill including (the full report can be found here):
- Exemptions to development charges for affordable and attainable housing, while good in theory, could have a major impact on municipal revenue meant to help pay for the infrastructure needed to service growth
- Requirements to track DC exemptions could create more work for municipalities and require more staff and tools.
- The definition of affordable housing being 80 per cent of average market value or purchase price could mean housing that remains unaffordable to most people being eligible for incentives. The county would like to see affordability linked to income levels and the provincial bulletin on pricing needs to be granular and frequent in order to recognize regional differences in the market
- The county is concerned about language in the bill that requires municipalities to spend or “allocate” 60 per cent of development charges each year. Clarification is needed on the word “allocate,” as development charges funds are already allocated through the DC background study
- The county is worried that a requirement in the bill that development charges can no longer be used for land costs, could have a negative impact on building future housing stock
- The limits on third-party appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal, could create more public pressure on local councils to defeat development proposals, resulting in delays
- Inclusionary zoning is still limited to communities with major transit stations, the county would like inclusionary zoning allowed across the province.
Members of county council were supportive of the report and the recommendations from staff to communicate Grey’s concerns about the bill to the province.
“This bill puts the burden of attainable housing on the local municipality’s taxpayer,” said The Blue Mountains Mayor Alar Soever. “This is not making anything more affordable.”
Grey Highlands Mayor Paul McQueen said it is obvious the province is planning some significant changes. McQueen said he shared concerns about the proposed changes to development charges in the bill.
“There are a lot of concerns around the development charges changes and the concept that growth pays for growth. The development charges studies can’t be a wish list,” said McQueen. “From a financial point of view, we’re going to have to sharpen our pencils. If there are efficiencies there, we’ll have to look for them.”