Opponents rally to try and defeat Bill 23

By Kirk Winter

Local opponents of Bill 23 recently gathered in front of MPP Laurie Scott's office.

Few proposed pieces of provincial legislation have rallied opposition forces faster as the More Homes Built Faster Act, better known as Bill 23. The bill, currently in front of a Queen’s Park committee chaired by Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott, could radically change the regulations and process that sub-divisions are approved and built under in Ontario, and threatens the possibility of opening both the protected Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine to significant development.

Opponents of the bill who include the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, all 36 provincial conservation authorities, heritage groups, First Nations associations, environmentalists and advocates for sustainable and environmentally friendly construction have joined together to pressure the province to at least alter if not kill the bill.

The province, with a newly elected majority government, does not seem likely to do that with Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark  stating publicly that the bill is necessary to allow the province to make good on it’s promise of 1.5 million new homes constructed in the next ten years.

Local MP Laurie Scott, in an email interview with the Advocate, supports Bill 23.

“Everyday I hear from people in my riding and across Ontario, regarding their struggles to find a home. Bill 23…will bolster our ongoing work in addressing the housing crisis in our province. Bill 23 will empower our municipal partners to give them the tools they need to cut through red-tape and get shovels into the ground. Our government needs to build all types of housing so everyone can live in the home that is right for them.”

When asked what she would say to those groups concerned with the bill, Scott said, “The Ontario government will continue to work with stakeholders and municipalities to ensure our goal of building 1.5 million homes over 10 years is met. Bill 23 is one of many ways that will help with the ongoing housing crisis by allowing us to build more homes and affordable living spaces.”

The bill’s genesis appears to be that the shortage of “attainable and/or affordable housing” is because there is not enough acreage available for new home builds. As well, multiple layers of bureaucracy that must be navigated by developers before a shovel is even put in the ground, appears to be a disincentive to developers and largely responsible for the spiraling costs of housing in Ontario.

Many of Ontario’s developers and building trades associations are solidly behind the legislation and are encouraging its swift passage.

Opponents, including Ward Two councillor Pat Warren and former councillor Heather Stauble see the bill much differently than the ruling Conservatives and local member Scott.

“I oppose this bill because it won’t bring affordable housing to Ontario,” Warren said. “It will only support the development community. We need housing for all, not just the wealthy.”

“It will destroy the Conservation Authorities,” Warren said, “because municipalities won’t be allowed to use them to comment on natural heritage issues. Conservation areas are being asked to open up lands they own for development. These lands are usually environmentally significant. We need corridors to protect wildlife.”

“This bill affects all municipalities,” Warren adds,” not just the Greenbelt. We have the Oak Ridges Moraine in our municipality but this awful bill affects everything including farmland. It diminishes powers of the municipality regarding parks, development charges, environmental requirements and much more. The bill was sneaked in while councils were changing.”

Stauble agrees with Warren, and itemized her opposition to the bill noting a significant number of concerns she too has with the legislation.

“Bill 23 ties municipalities hands in every possible way,” Stauble said, “by ignoring the municipality’s ministry approved Official Plan, reducing their ability to plan for infrastructure, finance and develop in a safe and efficient manner. It takes control of planning away from municipalities and hands it over to developers.”

“It impacts municipalities’ ability to pay,” Stauble said, “for infrastructure and to ensure safe development that protects people, homes, businesses and the environment. Development charges, which pay for infrastructure like roads, sewers, storm water, water systems, parks, and housing, will be reduced and deferred under Bill 23, transferring the cost of building and carrying the cost from developers to the municipal tax payers.”   

“The municipality would no longer be able to ask conservation authorities to review and comment on proposed development near water, to ensure development is safe and protects people, homes, businesses and land against flooding, pollution, and natural hazards,” Stauble continues. “Bill 23 requires land managed by conservation authorities, which protects and manages water and soil erosion; and captures and stores carbon, and habitat, to be identified for development. Prime agricultural land, wetlands, conservation land, can all be developed.”  

Stauble believes that designated historic buildings can more easily be demolished under Bill 23. She is particularly concerned about the loss of local discussion and input by interested parties regarding future development because Bill 23 contains clauses that eliminates the public’s ability to speak to planning proposals at Planning Committee or appeal decisions through the Ontario Land Tribunal.   

“It does nothing to address affordable housing,” Stauble says. “There are already tools in the Planning Act to require developers to contribute a percentage of their development to parks, trails and affordable housing, or contribute cash-in-lieu to the municipality. Funding from the province to assist with paying for affordable housing would be much more useful. Submissions from homelessness and housing groups have said (Bill 23) will only make the problems (they experience) even worse.”

The province hopes to have Bill 23 out of committee and approved by parliament by late in December and ready for implementation January 1, 2023.


  1. Wallace says:

    Maybe try creating a system where good jobs will be created. Ever since Free Trade was opened up in the late 80s, and all the good jobs went to mexico , all we talk about is food banks, affordable housing, and a guaranteed income supplement…… meanwhile the politicians keep telling us how wonderful Free Trade has been for us. Anyone older than 35 remembers what a booming town Lindsay was up until Free Trade was opened up — ever since, its been dying a slow death. (lots of pot shops opening up though….. how grand )

  2. Barbara Langer says:

    Bill 23 will only make Ford look like he is helping Ontarians when he’s really only helping his developer friends. His MZO’s are no better. If the communities don’t receive development fees, who do you think will be paying to install roads, lighting, parks, sidewalks, sewers, snow removal, garbage pickup……the list goes on. It will be the taxpayers who have to cover these costs. Developers are not in business to build affordable homes. Case in point: semi detached homes being built off Logie Street in the SE corner of town which will START in the $900’s. We need someone to define “affordable”. Otherwise, developers will continue to build homes that are priced out of range for anyone but people from Toronto who want to move “to the country”. Sure, these prices will increase everyone else’s property values but that’s not the goal at all. I’ll be watching to see how many “affordable” homes will result from Ford’s MZO for the property on the east side of Hwy 36.

  3. Rebecca says:

    The municipal delays cost money and prevent affordable housing from being built. Even Habitat for Humanity is having difficulty getting families off the waitlist and into homes because of municipal delays. Bill 23 was created to elimiate unecessary municipal delays.
    At 4 minutes the Habitat GTA CEO states it takes just as long for their projects to be built as it takes for private developers.

    Building homes faster creates more housing for everyone. Every vote against development is a vote in favor of homelessness

  4. Michele Maynard says:

    Who put the crown on Doug Ford’s head? This man is destroying our health and educational systems and is now working on our local communities. Mandating new laws by passing bills, 124, 28 and now 23 is not governing, but enforcing his will on the people of Ontario. Developers are not in business to resolve homelessness, they are in business to make a profit, and now Doug Ford has just increased their bottom line exponentially.
    Homelessness is a global problem, stemming from poverty, mental health and addiction issues, and has been exasperated by the pandemic.
    Doug Ford’s government removed rent controls in 2018, real estate agents holding off offers, inflation, interest rates, speculating and foreign investment have all contributed to the lack of affordability.
    Homelessness has always existed, we in Canada are fortunate to have a system that offers social assistance, a shelter system, along with many volunteer groups and local donations given on behalf of those in need.
    By passing Bill 23, Doug Ford once again overrides the rights of the people of Ontario, the fact that we democratically voted in our local representatives to protect and work on behalf of our communities, it seems the King rules!

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