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Sharing an excellent Bill 23 Impact Summary and Call to Action from Liz Benneian from A Better Niagara and many other wonderful org’s, with the relevant contact email addresses tailored for Hamilton.

Ontario’s affordable housing and environmental crisis is about to be made significantly worse by the Ford government’s Bill 23, introduced last week.

Called the “More Homes Built Faster Act”, this 175-page omnibus bill repeals regulations that allow conservation authorities to oversee the development process, paves the way for the sale of conservation land, yanks planning authority away from local governments, encourages more tall and sprawl (high-rise condos and single family homes on greenfield), limits public input, discourages more affordable housing and diminishes’ rights.

Phil Pothen, a land use planning and environmental lawyer with Environmental Defence, said of Bill 23: “It’s going to potentially unleash one of the biggest reductions in biodiversity and losses of habitat that we’ve just seen in decades.”

The Bill is now open for comments. Below, in point form, are highlights of some of the troubling aspects of this bill. The information below comes from a Conservation Ontario press release, a brief from Osler Law meant for the development community, from the Ontario Headwaters Institute, from an article in The Narwal and from Bill 23 itself. It is very important that citizens and groups speak out about this proposed Bill now, before it passes. All the information on how to do that is provided below.

Some of what Bill 23 will do to Conservation Authorities:

  • Open Conservation Authority lands for sale to the development industry.
  • Allow wetlands to be drained and built upon including by allowing wetlands that are part of wetland complexes to be evaluated separately.
  • Prevent municipalities from entering into agreements with conservation authorities to review planning applications on their behalf.
  • Allow exemptions from natural hazard permits for select municipalities where Planning Act approvals are in place.
  • Remove ‘conservation of lands’ and ‘pollution’ as considerations in permit decisions.
  • Freezes fees to Conservation Authorities thus draining them of revenue and possibly making the sale of conservation land necessary. As well, the government is suggesting most of the money from the sale of Conservation land will go to the Provincial government with only a small portion going to the CA.

Some of what Bill 23 will do to Planning and Affordable Housing:

  • Takes away the power of municipalities to mandate a certain percentage of new developments be affordable through Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) powers.
  • Limits affordable IZ units to only 5% of gross floor area of new developments.
  • Limits units deemed affordable to remain so for only 25 years before becoming market value.
  • Make tenants more vulnerable to renovictions/demovictions and removes their right to return after renovations/new build.
  • Exempts some developments, including affordable housing, from development charges, depriving municipalities of the revenue they need to provide services for a growing population such as sewer, water public, transportation etc. This will put the costs of these services for new development on existing taxpayers.
  • Limit amount of land municipalities can require for parkland dedication; allows developers to decide what land to dedicate; allows privately owned but accessible land to be included as parkland; exempts parkland dedication for “affordable” housing (defined as 80% or market value and for “attainable” housing (as yet undefined by the Ford government).
  • Removes Regional governments from the planning approvals process for lower tier municipalities Official Plans, Official Plan Amendments and plans of subdivisions and makes the Minister the approval authority (the Minister’s decisions on Official Plans and Official Plan Amendments are not subject to appeal).
  • Citizens will no longer be able to appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal.
  • Public meetings will no longer be required for draft plans of subdivision.

What You can do:

If you belong to a group, please have the group write a letter to those below. If you are an individual, please write your own personal letter.

Things you could include:

  • That you are not against development, especially affordable housing (defined as no more than 30% of income).
  • That to address the threats caused by the climate crisis and biodiversity loss and to protect Ontario’s critical agricultural land, the focus of legislation should be on, limiting sprawl, encouraging development within urban boundaries and creating complete healthy communities on already serviced land that can be served by public transit.
  • Talk about any of your specific concerns related to the points list above.
  • Note that Conservation Authorities have played a crucial role in protecting against losses caused by flooding, erosion and other natural hazards that are bound to increase as the climate changes. Now, more than ever, it’s important the planning takes watershed approach.
  • Note the importance of protecting conservation areas in terms of human recreation and biodiversity protection.
  • Concern that Bill 23 has not been given the time needed for detailed analysis and informed discussion. Ask that Bill 23 is given significant time for both public consultation and consideration at a Standing Committee.

Email your letter to:

  • David Piccini, Minister of Environment Conservation and Parks: minister.mecp@ontario.ca

Then cc all the key members of the legislature. (copy and paste their emails below):

premier@ontario.ca, minister.mnrf@ontario.ca, minister.mah@ontario.ca, tabunsp-qp@ndp.on.ca, SShaw-QP@ndp.on.ca, jfraser.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org, jfraser.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org, sblais.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org, mschreiner@ola.org, Neil.Lumsden@pc.ola.org, MTaylor-QP@ndp.on.ca, Donna.Skelly@pc.ola.org

  • Premier Doug Ford premier@ontario.ca
  • Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry minister.mnrf@ontario.ca
  • Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing minister.mah@ontario.ca
  • NDP Interim Leader Peter Tabuns: tabunsp-qp@ndp.on.ca
  • NDP Critic Environment, Conservation and Parks, Sandy Shaw: SShaw-QP@ndp.on.ca
  • Liberal Interim Leader, John Fraser: jfraser.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
  • Liberal Critic for Environment, Conservation and Parks, Mary-Margaret McMahon, jfraser.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
  • Liberal Critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing, Stephen Blais, sblais.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
  • Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner: mschreiner@ola.org
  • PCP MPP Hamilton East – Stoney Creek: Neil.Lumsden@pc.ola.org
  • NDP MPP Hamilton Mountain: MTaylor-QP@ndp.on.ca
  • PCP MPP Donna Skelly: Donna.Skelly@pc.ola.org

If you are outside of the Hamilton area, you can find the email address for your local MPPs here: https://www.ola.org/en/members/current

In solidarity,

Information provided by H350: Website https://hamilton350climate.org/

Association of Municipalities Ontario

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