Cities protest ‘staggering’ losses Ford government’s Ontario housing bill could cause

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Council meetings are being called in large cities in the Greater Toronto Area — some of them unscheduled emergency events — to sharply criticize housing legislation introduced by the Ford government.

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Planning staff from local governments including Markham, Mississauga and Toronto have opposed the province’s bill. 23, Introduced in late October, to have serious financial implications for local governments.

At the heart of the criticism is a fear that the proposed changes would lead to a dramatic increase in property taxes or a reduction in public services.


“Without other funding sources to meet this shortfall, the financial burden will fall on the property tax base,” said a Markham staff report, estimating property taxes at 50 to 80 percent to maintain existing services. The middle can grow.

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The proposed legislation – named the More Homes Built Faster Act – was introduced on October 25, the day Ontario held municipal elections and has wide-ranging implications for cities.

In an effort to reduce the time and cost of building new housing, it reduces the money and land developers are required to give to cities when they build housing.

The current system of costing developers, cities argue, ensures that homebuilders pay the cost of providing services for new residents, rather than existing communities footing the bill.

It has passed its second reading and is in committee, meaning changes can still be made to the document that has stunned many municipal governments.

“Our Housing Supply Action Plan is building a strong foundation on which 1.5 million homes can be built over the next 10 years,” Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark said in a media release.

“Our government is following through on our commitment to Ontarians by cutting delays and red tape to build more homes faster.”

The proposed new rules would mean builders would be required to pay in development charges – paid by developers to ensure new roads, libraries, sewage and other local services – would fall to many types of buildings.

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The amount of parkland – or money to build new parks – is also set to drop.

“The province is clearly encouraging the construction of housing on the backs of municipalities,” Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie told Granthshala News.

“It is incentivizing profitability to the development community on the backs of municipalities. We will not be able to pay for infrastructure – roads, sewers, bridges etc – and it does not address making housing more affordable.

The mayor’s stinging words come ahead of a special meeting where his new council will consider the new bill. A staff report estimated that Mississauga could lose $885 million in revenue over the next decade as a result of the legislation.

The staff highlighted a “staggering” potential loss of $560 million through changes to parkland regulations as a major issue.

The proposed law would force cities to allocate or spend 60 percent of the money allocated to them for parks within one year. The change, Crombie said, could make it even more difficult to replace the park with little funding.

“When you think about parkland purchases with cash-in-lieu funds, they are very much opportunistic purchases that are not available every year – it depends on when the land becomes available,” he said.

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Planning officials in Toronto say the changes could also slow the supply of new housing.

A report going before councilors predicted that municipalities may find it impossible to build due to lack of funds.

The report warned, “The proposed legislation could also have the unintended effect of slowing housing supply or reducing City service levels, such that the City cannot provide new services to support development.”

“Alternatively, it could put upward pressure on property taxes.”

That sentiment was shared by the Federation of Municipalities of Ontario, which said in a statement that the proposed changes “may contradict the goal of creating more housing over the long term.”

Mayor John Tory has expressed support for several aspects of the Ford government’s overhaul that handed him stronger mayoral powers

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A scathing report from municipal staff in Markham suggests the legislation could lead to divided cities.

Given the potential need to reduce local services, staff warned the cuts “will affect how new communities are planned in Markham and will create inequalities across the city with ‘have-it-and-not’ neighbourhoods”. “

Planning staff in Oshawa came to the same conclusion, saying that “many of the proposed amendments to the Development Fee Act will result in the general taxpayer paying for development instead of paying for development.”

Gil Penalosa, an outspoken urbanist and former Toronto mayoral candidate, said the legislation’s implications could last for centuries.

“We are building communities for the next 100 to 300 years, not just solving the housing crisis of 10 years,” he told Granthshala News. “So, we can’t go crazy and do stupid things.”


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