2.07.04 - “[A] re-elected PC government will continue to work in partnership with municipalities to remove burdensome red tape to significantly accelerate the permitting and approvals of new home […] construction”
The Ford government’s Bill 23 - More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022, is seeking to make changes that streamline the process of building housing. However, the Association of Municipalities Ontario points to multiple ways in which it may hinder the power of municipalities. Critiques include, but are not limited to: (1) the Bill is going through the legislature at a time when elections have just taken place and municipal councils have yet to be sworn in, meaning that the provincial government is unable to “work with municipalities”. (2) The bill limits the amount that municipal governments can recover in costs associated with growth. (3) Conservation authorities are limited in their power to review and comment on development applications. As the Government has announced steps to approve housing more quickly, although through steps that may actually inhibit the municipalities’ powers, this promise is partially kept.
“The Ontario government has assigned housing targets to 21 additional municipalities as part of its plan to build at least 1.5 million homes by 2031. Once these municipalities, through their heads of council, have pledged to achieve their targets, they will have access to the new Building Faster Fund, which will reward municipalities that are on track to meet their housing targets.”
“Bill 23 is proceeding quickly through the legislature, which means it is likely to pass before many municipal Councils have been sworn in, and before the AMO Board can prepare a response. […] Bill 23 and the province’s new More Homes Built Faster Plan, as proposed, will have economic, social, and environmental implications that cannot be ignored. […] While AMO would like to support the province’s housing objectives, it cannot support changes that largely place the burden of carrying the costs associated with development onto municipalities. AMO believes that the proposed changes may contradict the goal of building more housing in the long-term as it merely shifts the financial burden of growth-related infrastructure onto existing taxpayers. […] Bill 23 proposes sweeping changes to the regulatory responsibilities of Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities that, if passed, will undermine the collaborative and productive changes put forward by the Ministry led Conservation Authority Working Group over the past two years.”
The More Homes for Everyone Act, which received Royal Assent on 14 April 2022, included funds to help municipalities to reduce red tape and streamline and modernize planning approvals processes. However, there are concerns that this will have a counterproductive effect, instead causing greater work and slowing down the process of planning. This promise remains in progress as the funds are distributed and changes are made to municipal planning processes.
“The Ontario government calls it an incentive that will help speed up new home construction and make housing more affordable across the province. But Toronto officials say a system of new planning deadlines with attached refunds, outlined in a provincial housing bill on Wednesday, is more penalty than incentive. It could amount to millions of dollars in refunds for cities and will have the “perverse” effect of delaying development by sending more planning applications to the already backlogged Ontario Land Tribunal. […] Luisa Sotomayor, an associate professor in York University’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, said the bill undermines local planning autonomy and won’t enhance affordability.”
“[The Ford government] invested up to $350 million to help municipalities across the province make their planning and approvals processes more efficient to identify potential savings, accelerate the creation of new housing and modernize municipal services […] This funding will help municipalities streamline and modernize their planning approval processes including official plan amendments, and rezoning, plan of subdivision and site plan applications.