The Government of Ontario passed Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, on Nov. 28, 2022. Bill 23 makes fundamental changes to the land use planning system in Ontario as part of the government's plans to achieve construction of 1.5 million new homes by 2032.
The Town of Georgina is committed to working with the province, York Region and developers/builders on the shared goals of increasing housing supply, attainability and affordability. Georgina, and other municipalities, have identified significant issues with the implementation of this legislation, including concerns related to the protection of the natural environment, heritage preservation, comprehensive planning, public consultation as well as financial impacts for property taxpayers.
Under this bill, there are changes to various provincial statutes that govern development, including the Planning Act, the Development Charges Act and the Conservation Authorities Act, with the stated goal of removing barriers to get more homes built in Ontario (1.5 million homes by 2031).
Specifically, Bill 23 includes changes to Development Charges Act as following:
- Exemptions to development charges for “affordable residential units,” “attainable units,” “non-profit housing developments”, and “affordable housing units” required pursuant to an Inclusionary Zoning By-law
- Reductions to development charges for the development of rental housing
- Reduction of the amount of development charges that may be imposed under existing and future development charges by-laws (a 20 per cent reduction from the development charge that otherwise could have been imposed during the first year the by-law is in force, and a 15 per cent, 10 per cent, 5 per cent reduction in the second, third, and fourth year)
- A maximum interest rate (prime plus 1 per cent) that municipalities can charge on development charges in certain circumstances for rental, institutional, and non-profit housing
In addition to the development charges changes, Bill 23 includes the following changes:
- The bill reduces the amount of parkland dedication by the imposition of a new formula where “affordable residential units” or “attainable residential units” required by inclusionary zoning are exempted from parkland dedication
- Removes the conservation authorities (CAs) from reviewing and commenting on development applications and supporting studies on behalf of municipalities
- Removes planning responsibilities and approval authority from the regional municipalities of Halton, York, Peel, Durham, Niagara, Waterloo and Simcoe Country as “upper-tier municipalities without planning responsibilities”
- Exempts all non-profit housing developments and residential development with 10 units or less, from site plan control. It would also remove the ability of a municipality to control the exterior appearance and design of buildings and require landscaping plans with respect to any site plan application, irrespective of local official plan policies and design guidelines
Ontario’s new legislation, More Homes Built Faster Act, will have significant impacts on Georgina’s residents.
Impacts to environment and greenbelt lands
Local conservation authorities have been assisting municipalities with development reviews and guidance for many years. The Town relied on their expertise and local knowledge to ensure responsible and sustainable development does not impact our unique environmental features. Under Bill 23, conservation authority partners will now have a diminished role as it relates to conservation of land, protection of significant environmental features and matters of pollution.
Impact on the Multi-use Recreation Complex
Staff will continue to monitor Bill 23 and related legislation with consideration to its impacts on the Town and report further as circumstances necessitate.
Frequently asked questions
What will be the impact of Bill 23 on current taxpayers?
Under a concept of “growth should pay for growth”, development charges (DC) should be collected to fund infrastructure projects required for our growing community like new recreation facilities, bridges and roads. However, with the implementation of Bill 23, there is likely going to be a financial impact to the existing taxpayers. Removing or restricting the Town’s ability to collect and use development charges to fund critical infrastructure projects will result in the need to fund these projects from other sources.
What will be the impact of Bill 23 on Conservation Authorities?
Under Bill 23, the role of Conservation Authorities as a support to Municipalities on the review and analysis of development applications is being restricted to commenting on matters of flooding and natural hazards, as well as implementing the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan in the case of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. Many of the previous responsibilities of the CAs are now been transferred to Municipalities, including the protection of wetlands and woodlands.
This initiative is a threat to the conservation areas that our residents have come to enjoy. It risks houses being built in locations that are not suitable for development.