Bill 23 will do irreparable and disastrous damage to eco-systems says reader

To the Editor:

RE: Bill 23 and accompanying proposed policy changes

It has been established by the Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force Report (2022) that we do not need to sacrifice farmland and natural areas to address the housing crisis: “a shortage of land isn’t the cause of the problem. Land is available, both inside the existing built-up areas and on undeveloped land outside greenbelts.” (p. 10)

Sweeping amendments proposed in Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 will

  • undermine democracy by removing requirements for public meetings on certain planning matters, and by removing peoples’ right to appeal planning decisions
  • support Ministerial powers to override municipal planning decisions and impose development
  • strip more power from Conservation Authorities to regulate or prevent development that threatens wetlands, rivers and streams
  • remove the planning powers of 7 regional municipalities: Simcoe, Halton, Peel , York, Durham, Niagara, and Waterloo, disrupting cohesive regional planning and the municipalities’ ability to address green initiatives
  • reduce or eliminate the development fees municipalities can collect to pay for growth-required infrastructure, placing the burden back on the taxpayer.

In addition, proposed changes to the Provincial Policy Statements will

  • remove or streamline existing policies that protect Provincially Significant Wetlands, Woodlands, and Wildlife Habitat so that development can go ahead
  • overhaul the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System ensuring a significant loss of areas protected.

A recent CBC Toronto analysis of property, corporate records reveals the names of the developers who own the Greenbelt lands proposed for removal. The development industry is apparently in and ready to go.

The Province’s new definitions of what is considered affordable (up to 80 per cent of the average market value or purchase price)doesn’t take into account people’s income levels.

According to the Housing Affordability Task Force: “Too much land inside cities is tied up by outdated rules.”  If we want to make better use of land to create more housing, then we need to modernize our zoning rules. Greenbelts and other environmentally sensitive areas must be protected, and farms provide food and food security.

What we need in Ontario is enlightened environmental planning and decision making that takes all factors into account. If Bill 23 and these policy changes go through uncontested, we could be left with an uncoordinated patchwork of housing developments that have failed to solve the housing crisis and the damage to our eco-systems will be irreparable and disastrous in the face of the twin crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Danuta Valleau and Michael McLuhan
Kemble Rock Rd., Georgian Bluffs