Council members in the County of Brant discussed how to send “a stronger message” to the province regarding Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 during the meeting on Tuesday, November 22.
Bill 23 was designed by the province to address the housing shortages across Ontario. The Bill is the next instalment in the Province’s Housing Supply Action Plan, which encourages the creation of 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years.
Councillor Steve Howes started the conversation during the meeting, raising a number of questions and concerns with the Bill.
“As proposed it appears to me that Bill 23 would result in significant municipal costs related to growth coming from the wallets of taxpayers instead of the wallets of developers,” he said. “I believe that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario estimates that provincially at a billion dollars per year, possibly the transfer instead of us coming from developers closer to home. Our consultants indicate that the bill could result in $15 million in costs that would transfer to our taxpayers instead of from the developers.”
Councillor Howes also questioned whether or not the Bill would properly address the types and sizes of homes that would be built, saying that he fears that Southwestern Ontario could end up with more large homes rather than the modest housing products that are needed.
“With all of this in mind, it seems to me that we should be sending a stronger message to the province than just asking for, for more time, your report requests and extended commenting period,” Councillor Howes said before asking his fellow council members whether they share his concerns.
Councillor John Bell recommended that the County join forces with other municipalities to get the message across, noting that Waterloo has previously communicated their concerns.
“I wonder whether our voice is enough,” Councillor Bell said. “I’m not saying our voices aren’t worth listening to but it has to be part of something bigger for the government to make a shift in its position.”
Councillor Robert Chambers asked his fellow council members to consider presenting the provincial government with their own plan to work towards solving the housing crisis.
“Their solution is to make development easier, which is contrary to what municipalities do. We’re on opposite ends of this but we need to come together somehow,” Councillor Chambers said. “We all agree that there is a housing crisis and all kinds of different growth related things are an issue. But what are we going to do about that? I think that the message that we should be sending to the province is what Brant County is going to do to try to address the housing crisis here.”
After discussing the matter, Councillor Howes requested an amendment to the recommendation, to include a clause that states that the County of Brant requests that the province defer the clause-by-clause review at the committee stage.
The recommendation also states that the County of Brant requests that the province extends the commenting period to allow additional review and consultation time and that the report be shared with conservation authorities having jurisdiction within the County of Brant. The motion was carried unanimously.