Original Published on Nov 07, 2022 at 17:00

By Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Blue Mountains council is raising alarm bells about the potential impact the province’s Bill 23 could have on the community.

At a recent council meeting, councillors and staff members discussed the implications of the province’s Bill 23 – More Homes Built Faster Act on the town. Elected representatives and staff said the legislation, which has passed second reading and has been referred to the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Culture Policy, could have serious consequences for the town.

“It’s quite dramatic, there are a lot of unintended consequences on us,” said Director of Legal Services Will Thomson. “It is quite a dramatic change to a lot of our planning mechanisms. The consequences could be significant.”

CAO Shawn Everitt said town staff would be preparing a report, which will include draft comments from the town on Bill 23 to be submitted to the province. In addition, staff will also look into the possibility of town representatives seeking a chance to present at Queen’s Park during committee hearings on the bill.

Members of council raised a number of issues with the bill including:

  • A cap on green space for future developments
  • A possible future requirement that municipalities spend 60 per cent of their development charges collected each year
  • The possibility of homes valued at 80 per cent or less of the average sale price in a community receiving an exemption from development charges
  • The impact to the town’s Short-Term Accommodation bylaw of the bill allowing auxiliary rental units on all properties
  • Properties developed as affordable housing being locked into that status for 20 years
  • Reduced public engagement and appeal opportunities for the public on development proposals

Coun. Rob Sampson said the province’s heart is in the right place on the housing file, but its execution is lacking.

“The intent is to try and facilitate the building of affordable/attainable housing in the province. That is good,” said Sampson. “There are a number of components of the proposed bill that are slightly problematic.”

Sampson said the 15 per cent cap on green space is less than half of what the town currently requires and he said the public often asks for more. He said a requirement to spend a significant portion of development charges collected each year is troubling, as the town may spend several years collecting development charges for a major project like a water or wastewater treatment plant upgrade.

He also said exempting houses priced at 80 per cent or less than the average sale price in The Blue Mountains from development charges would have serious consequences.

Sampson noted the average sale price in The Blue Mountains is $1.2 million and that a uniform 80 per cent policy across the province would mean that homes priced at approximately $1 million would be deemed “affordable” and exempt from development charges.

“The definition of affordability in the act needs to be tweaked,” he said.

Mayor Alar Soever said the possibility of the town receiving no development charges for homes built that are valued at 80 per cent of the average local sale price or less was a major issue.

“It’s a big transfer of the cost of attainable housing onto our municipal tax base,” said Soever. “People are saying: wait a minute, how are we going to fund infrastructure in the future?”

The province introduced the bill in an effort to address the housing crisis by building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years.

“For too many Ontarians, including young people, newcomers, and seniors, finding the right home is still too challenging. This is not just a big-city crisis: the housing supply shortage affects all Ontarians, including rural, urban and suburban, north and south, young and old.” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Our Housing Supply Action Plan is creating a strong foundation on which 1.5 million homes can be built over the next 10 years. Our government is following through on our commitment to Ontarians by cutting delays and red tape to get more homes built faster.”

Full details on the bill can be found here.

This item reprinted with permission from   CollingwoodToday.ca   Collingwood, Ontario

Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated