NewsNow E-Edition January 26, 2023

Opinion: Municipalities get handed the Bill

This Bill 23 situation is going to get far worse before it gets better.

Premier Doug Ford has done himself several disservices in this fractured, adrenalized legislative process which he rolled out for such a highly impactful law.

Grimsby council was right to pan it as they did Monday night.

The whole thing boils down to one summation offered by Coun. Nick DiFlavio, who simply stated the new legislation will simply not achieve the result and goal Ford is selling – namely more affordable housing.

Ford has claimed the capacity for the parcels released from the development limitations of the Greenbelt will allow for 1.5 million homes over 10 years.

There are so many major issues with the planning process, Ford has set in motion a long parade of recurring disasters.

There are many aspects to the Bill which, in a word, suck, but I want to focus first on the government’s convenient naïveté when it comes the capping of development charges.

Some may liken it to a downloading effect but the difference is the download goes from taxpayers into developers’ pockets – NOT another level of government where, in theory, some tax dollars are saved elsewhere.

This is a 100 per cent, hands down, laughing-all-the-way-to-the-bank win for developers who speculated on land and won big.

As stated in the Nov. 17 edition, if Ford really wanted to see “affordable”housing result from this measure, he would not have worried about releasing prime waterfront property. That’s just a joke, and a bad one.

On the DC’s to give you some idea, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said Monday night, “With Bill 23 passing into law today, here is what you need to know Mississauga: The legislation will cost the City of Mississauga $885 million over 10 years in Development Charges and money for new parks. It’s equal to losing 20 per cent of our capital budget.”

Now, Grimsby is not Mississauga – not yet, but give Doug a couple more terms and who knows – however, if you even look at a potential impact for Grimsby on a pro-rated basis, this hit will be major.

In rolling out Bill 23, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, and others, alluded to municipalities salting away reserves built on DCs. Do they not know how DCs work? DCs are for a finite group of potential costs and they must be approved on a development by development basis. The projects they are attached to typically are major components of municipal infrastructure and are backed up by needs and analysis and use studies. They are not a whim allowing a municipality to put aside rainy day money.

Also Monday night, Aurora Mayor Tom Mrakas had a very good idea, but it will be pretty sad to see it executed.

Mrakas said he will suggest to council – and Grimsby should do this as well – to consider adding a new line in the 2023 budget “Provincial Housing Tax” This would represent the tax increases required to make up the economic impacts of Bill 23’s DC cap.

Grimsby is already going to see major hits on their property taxes when the long-overdue Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) re-assessments finally roll through. Now, Grimsby will have to add more tax on that to serve these new developments while developers are lighting Montecristos with hundred dollar bills.

There is a whole lot going on here, little of it good. In the end, the only winners will be developers. Taxpayers are going to eat it monetarily and environmentally.

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