One day after a protest in downtown Kingston over the impacts of Bill 23, the legislation was passed by the Ontario government.
Bill 23, known as the Building More Homes Act, is aimed at facilitating the construction of building 1.5 million homes in the province over the next decade.
One of those revenue streams that municipalities will lose is development fees.
Liberal MPP for Kingston and the Islands Ted Hsu says he is concerned Bill 23 could leave municipalities like Kingston looking at tough options like raising property taxes or reducing services.
“It would mean about $3 million in lost revenue every year. Bill 23 means that there will be pressure on Kingston city councillors to raise property taxes to make up for that lost revenue,” said Hsu.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, who spearheaded the bill and defended the government’s move to build in the Greenbelt.
“The fifteen sites identified had to meet very clear criteria that meant homes could be built quickly, and that the overall expansion of the Greenbelt by approximately 2,000 acres could be achieved,” said Clark “Several of the proposed sites have also been part of municipal efforts to spur much-needed housing development.”
In addition to plans for building on the Greenbelt, wetlands may also be in danger of development, due to a restructuring of the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System.
“It’s weakening the evaluation system for wetlands,” said Hsu. “We’re going to be building housing where we probably shouldn’t be building housing. We really need to take advantage of the land we already have.”
The old structure of the system grouped wetlands together into larger complexes giving them a better chance of being provincially significant wetlands.
Under Bill 23, wetland complexes have been discarded, meaning they are now smaller, individual wetlands, which makes them susceptible to development.
Due to the risks involved with developing wetlands, the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority is concerned with what effects it could have on the environment.
“Until we see what the regulations will look like, and what the final outcomes could be, there definitely is concern at this point. We want to ensure that the natural infrastructure is in place to help with flood mitigation and to help with connectivity on the landscape,” Katrina Furlanetto, the CRCA’s general manager, told Global Kingston.
Minister Clark says that the variety of homes being built will accommodate all Ontarians, which includes single-family homes, townhomes and mid-rise apartments.