City Leaders, Planners Pan Province's New Housing Act
Critics: Act will reduce municipal power, achieve little
The Doug Ford government has given a new ultimatum to municipalities: approve development plans for condos, apartments and other housing within tight deadlines or face big financial penalties.
It's the Ford government's latest move to reduce municipalities' authority to manage local affairs.
Critics say it will not only undermine cities' ability to negotiate community benefits and better developments, it will delay new home construction by forcing developers into a cumbersome and already overburdened appeal process.
Instead of working with municipalities to boost their capacity to consider and approve new home construction, the province continues its habit of imposing thoughtless and simplistic demands on local governments.
HOW THE PLAN AFFECTS CITIES
• Imposes a deadline on municipalities to approve development site plans within 60 days or refund half of developer fees.
• 100% refund if no decision within 120 days.
• Deadline for zoning amendments: 50 per cent refund of developer fees if amendments not approved within 90 days.
• 100% refund if no decision in 210 days.
• Ignores Housing Task Force recommendations to:
- Set target of 1.5 million homes built in Ontario over the coming decade and increase density in existing neighbourhoods.
What they're saying:
Luisa Sotomayor, York U’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change
• The bill undermines local planning autonomy and won’t enhance affordability.
• Toronto has increasingly been left to deal with big issues, where the decisions are made by
federal and provincial authorities and the city’s power to address them is increasingly diminished,
which is a bad trend for democracy.
Andrew Whittemore, Mississauga Commissioner of Planning and Building
• Reduces time to focus on community consultation, safety and great city-building.
• Transfers risks from developers to municipal taxpayers.
• “The focus is entirely on municipalities with no obligation on developers
to take action to make housing more affordable.”
City Councillor Josh Matlow (Toronto-St. Paul’s)
• Money-back deadlines are “arbitrary” and “disappointingly immature.”
• Ninety days doesn't take into account that technical issues like sewer capacity, ground water displacement and wind shear must be analyzed by engineers, or that development applications must be sent to other agencies to consider issues such as child care and school capacity, or to coordinate provision of municipal utilities.
Mary Rita Holland, NDP candidate for Kingston and the Islands
• The Act does not "represent anything that cities have been talking about or asking for."
• "Passing the buck and saying that we need to speed things up and that we're the ones holding things back is not helpful. I think investing more money into the kind of housing we need--supportive, affordable housing, is the direction that we need to be going in."
Gregg Lintern, Toronto’s Chief Planner
• “The majority of development in Toronto is approved … because we work with people. That takes some time. It certainly takes more than 60 or 90 days to do it right. Why would we be punished for that? The logic escapes me. It is not the way to do planning.”
• He fears city planners will reject good applications that could have been approved with more time.
• “It will have the unintended consequences of creating more red tape, not less.”