DAN CEARNS, The Standard
SCUGOG: Scugog officials have made their concerns known about the Province of Ontario's Bill 23, also known as the "More Homes Built Faster Act."
At a recent meeting, Scugog councillors saw a report on Bill 23 written by Township CAO Ken Nix.
"In general, the legislation reduces municipal checks and balances in many areas for development. It downloads planning responsibilities from the regional level to local municipalities and reduces the municipality's ability to plan and manage development to address the local communities' expectations and requirements for design, appearance, soft services, livability, and sustainability. It reduces the existing resident's ability to participate in influencing development or appealing development decisions. Bill 23 limits oversight responsibilities and commenting abilities for Conservation Authorities beyond their core mandate, shifting the responsibility to municipalities. This bill also reduces the ability for municipalities to collect the revenues from development needed for growth to occur," the report stated.
The report later goes on to state the "Township fully supports the government's objective to address housing affordability in Ontario," but the Township feels this bill "shifts costs to the local tax base and property taxpayers."
The bill includes 50 actions and, according to an Ontario government press release, is intended to "address the housing crisis by building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years." The release adds the government will do this by "reducing government fees and fixing developmental approval delays which slow down housing construction."
At the meeting, Scugog's Director of Development Services, Kevin Heritage, had an opportunity to speak about the bill.
"As written, it will substantially impact the municipality," Director Heritage said. "Growth does not pay for itself. On the recommendation to amend the Development Charges Act, we're going to see even less income coming into the municipality. What will happen is, to pay for growth, that burden will be placed on the existing taxpayers within the municipality."
Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation Chief Kelly LaRocca issued a statement on the subject on Twitter on Thursday, December 8th.
“Consultation cannot be downloaded. We are making it clear that all levels of government- municipalities included- must connect and consult with First Nations when making major decisions concerning environmentally protected areas. We are all looking at the next steps; however, collaboration is built into our DNA-this is made evident by our Treaties. We are here to provide guidance on responsible land use planning. In the case of Bill 23, our value-based approach is consistent with what is in the interests of public health and safety. To protect the Greenbelt is to protect a carbon sink, to protect species at risk, to protect air and water quality, and to protect against flooding.”