“The legislation is likely to result in fewer and more expensive homes, higher costs of services, less energy efficient construction, increased car dependency and transportation expenses for residents, and increased property taxes.” – Environmental Defence, a Canada-wide citizens advocacy organization for protecting and preserving our environment
A Statement by Phil Pothen, Ontario Environmental Program Manager, Environmental Defence
Posted November 28th, 2022 on Niagara At Large
By forcing passage of Bill 23, the “More Homes, Built Faster Act”, Ontario’s government has lit the fuse on an explosion of expensive sprawl that will destroy much of the remaining wetland and wildlife habitat in Ontario’s most sensitive ecoregions.
Moreover, while the Ontario government has attempted to defend Bill 23’s dismantling of flood and habitat protection, regional planning and green building standards by framing it as a measure to address the province’s housing shortage and lack of affordability, it is likely to have the opposite effect.
The legislation is likely to result in fewer and more expensive homes, higher costs of services, less energy efficient construction, increased car dependency and transportation expenses for residents, and increased property taxes.
Bill 23 must be repealed.
Rejecting warnings from virtually all non-partisan science experts and municipal governments of all stripes, the government has refused to remove Bill 23’s most central and dangerous feature: an attack on Conservation Authorities’ flood prevention and land protection roles that will enable wholesale destruction of wetland habitats and conservation lands – and expose us all to an escalating risk of floods and other disasters.
Bill 23 has stripped Conservation Authorities of the power to refuse permission for sprawl or other land development that their experts know would cause flooding and erosion or destroy wetlands and other conservation lands.
It goes still further, by prohibiting Conservation Authorities from agreeing to provide municipalities with the information and expertise they would need to have any hope of filling the gap in protection themselves.
Bill 23 is likely to make it harder to tackle either the province’s housing shortage or high housing prices because the cumulative effect of its measures will be to divert scarce skilled construction labour and materials away from adding compact homes (especially family homes) to existing neighborhoods. The Bill:
- waters down or omits entirely required zoning reforms, leaving in place so many barriers to creation of new “missing middle” homes in the existing low-rise neighborhoods where they are most desperately needed, that the government’s own documents admit only 50,000 of a total 1.5 million homes would be created there, province-wide
- eliminates the coordinated regional planning that is required to promote efficient use of construction resources and lands, causing a great deal of housing construction, and the vast bulk of residential land, to be squandered on the most expensive and resource-intensive forms in areas far from jobs, schools and services pushes newcomers – and new households – into car-dependent and disconnected places where they don’t want to live, while making it harder for municipalities to retrofit existing car-dependent subdivision to be lower-cost and lower-emissions places to live.
- destroys many of the existing “green” building standards that municipalities use to make new homes that are cheaper for tenants or purchasers to heat and cool – and which are vital to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The simultaneous climate, biodiversity and housing crises demand that we preserve every acre of farmland and habitat, and wisely use scarce construction materials, construction labour, equipment and supporting infrastructure to maximize the construction of well-designed, low-cost homes.
Only this approach can transform existing low-density, car-dependent, over-taxed towns and cities into communities where people can afford to live, move quickly and cheaply by public transit, foot and bicycle and have access to work, school, shopping and recreation.
Bill 23 drags Ontario forcefully and dramatically in the wrong direction, disregarding the advice of its own Task Force, along with all the hard-won lessons of the last 70 years, in favour of a return to the expensive low-density and car-dependent sprawl which is the root cause of our current housing and environmental crises.
This dangerous Bill has been forced into law through a process designed to prevent meaningful consideration of its impacts, discussion with those affected, or on a time frame that reflects the enormity of the changes. We will all need to work together to see this legislation repealed.
ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.
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