At the December 12, 2022 council meeting, Clarington Council passed report PDS-054-22, which included key comments and concerns on Bill 23.
Some of those comments included:
- That Bill 23 may not achieve its goals to increase housing supply, but will remove key partnerships and areas of expertise and assessment, as well as eliminate quality control checks and balances built into the planning and development approvals process that are designed to ensure growth and development takes place in an environmentally respectful and socially responsible way.
- Staff has concerns about the removal of urban landscape from the scope of site plan approval.
- Staff want the province to amend the legislation to maintain the regional planning role for the purposes of coordinating long-range land use planning and infrastructure.
- Concerns that requiring municipality to accept encumbered lands for parks purposes will detrimentally impact the municipality’s ability to deliver access to quality, safe and functional park spaces for residents.
- Requests that the province not change parkland dedication ratios.
- Requests that financial shortfalls from the changes to development charges be made up for from funding from the province.
- Concerns that changes to conservation authorities will add more work for municipal staff.
At the meeting, council added the following comments:
- The proposed changes in Bill 23 would significantly reduce municipal collections from developers to pay for and deliver infrastructure to support population growth (e.g. development charges for road improvements, stormwater infrastructure, parks, recreational facilities, libraries, etc.);
- The Municipality of Clarington supports the principle that growth should pay for growth;
- Staff have reviewed the proposed changes to Development Charges, Parkland Dedication, and Community Benefit Charges and have quantified the anticipated financial impact on Development Charges over a 10-year period to be a reduction of approximately $18.3M, equating to $1.8M per year or an annual tax levy increase of 2.6% and which does not include funding shortfalls related to other exclusions, discounts, Parkland Dedication and Community Benefit Charges;
- With the proposed reduction in municipal revenues from development charges (DCs), community benefit charges and cash-in-lieu of parkland dedication fees collected from developers, a larger burden of the growth-related infrastructure costs will shift to property taxes/existing residences and businesses;
- While Bill 23 may provide for more housing units, significantly reducing land use and infrastructure planning oversight of upper and lower tier municipalities, as well as conservation authorities, has the potential to cause public safety impacts (e.g. traffic, parking, flooding issues, water quality, air quality), as well as the loss of natural heritage resources, parkland, and overall good land use planning practices that would otherwise provide for a mix of housing options in sustainable, livable communities;
- By limiting third-party appeal rights, Bill 23 may result in faster approval processes, but limits public participation in a process that has long-term impacts on the local community;
- It also limits the ability of neighbours to bring forward concerns about a development that may directly affect the use of their property;
- Bill 23 will require that Heritage registers be reviewed and decisions made whether listed properties are to be designated, and if not, then removed from the register within 2 years; once removed, those properties cannot be added back to the Register for another 5 years;
- Bill 23 provides no mechanisms to ensure, and it is unclear how, any potential savings from the proposed changes would be passed on to the homebuyer to ensure long-term affordability;
- An increase in supply does not necessarily mean an increase in affordability;
- Bill 23 will create a significant burden on municipal staff resources to implement the proposed changes, at a time when many municipalities are dealing with increased (financial and staffing) constraints;
Council also added that provincial intervention in the form of settlement area boundary expansions, Minister’s Zoning Orders and changes to the Greenbelt is not required; nor is it supported; and that Clarington is concerned about the impacts that the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 (Bill 23) could have for the people of Clarington, including seniors and those on fixed income who cannot afford property tax increases that could result from the loss of development charges; and that community services, building design, park space, sprawl and unplanned density are also a concern.
Council has directed staff to work with AMO, Ontario Big City Mayors (OBCM) and Durham Region to mitigate the impacts of Bill 23 on the quality of life in the community.
A copy of the report and these comments be sent to the provincial government, including the Premier and specific MPPs, as well as neighbouring municipalities, the Region and AMO.