The Town of Whitby hosted a special council meeting in late November to discuss the potential impacts of Bill 23. The meeting included a presentation from Roger Saunders, Commissioner of Planning and Development, that focused on municipal planning in Ontario. In addition to explaining how planning works, he also detailed the current and expected growth in Whitby, as well as current and approved proposals pending or under construction.
A second presentation was made by Lori Tesolin, Supervisor of Policy and Heritage and Principal Planner, and Jennifer Hess, Manager of Development Financing and Long Term Financial Planning that focused on providing an overview of proposed changes included in Bill 23.
Both presentations can be viewed here.
Council then approved report PDD-65-22: Bill 23, More Homes Built Fast Act, 2022. Staff outlined their concerns in the report, which included:
- Removing planning authority from the Region will increase the burden on lower-tier municipal staff and will result in uncoordinated planning for critical infrastructure that crosses local municipal boundaries, as well as uncoordinated long term planning for intensification, population and employment growth.
- Allowing up to three units per lot will cause safety issues if units are not appropriate for the building/lot size; will cause or exacerbate on-street parking issues and traffic impacts; increases burden on municipal by-law staff to enforce compliance.
- With affordable and attainable housing, demand on infrastructure such as parks, rec centres, libraries, fire services, etc. will increase. An increase in property taxes will be needed to maintain service levels.
- Changes to site plan control will prevent the municipality from incorporating sustainable design practices; limits the ability of staff to work with developers to create good urban design and pedestrian friendly environments in new development.
- By removing third-party appeals to the OLT, it limits residents and neighbouring landowners from participating in the appeals process; leaving the Town with the burden of being the only party able to represent the public interest, potentially resulting in the Town participating in more Tribunals appeals.
- Parkland dedication changes will lead to “have” and “have-not” communities with respect to availability of park space; developers can offer land that the Town considers unacceptable; accepting encumbered parkland presents significant risks to the Town; spending or allocating 60% of funds each year may not be practical for the Town.
- In regards to DC changes, some of the cost of infrastructure will have to be passed on to taxpayers; may result in delays of delivery of infrastructure; cost of studies and land required for new roads and facilities to support population growth will need to be fully paid by existing taxpayers; could result in inefficient servicing, further limiting the supply of serviced land.
- Changes to the OLT – parties that bring forward appeals in good faith should not be penalized because they are not successful, discourages public participation in the appeals process.
- Ontario Heritage Act – increases burden on staff to review every two years; overall reduces ability to protect properties.
- Conservation Authorities – their expertise helps protect sensitive lands; Town does not have in-house experts.