Tuesday , 30 May 2023
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Province to audit finances of six Ontario Municipalities

Hamilton could be audited in a subsequent round of audits

The province of Ontario has long promised that municipalities would be “made whole” with the province’s cancellation of development charges municipalities were charging for affordable housing. Now in an apparent attempt to get the process started, Ontario will begin to audit the finances of six select municipalities, including the City of Toronto.

Along with the City of Toronto, Ontario intends also audit Peel Region, Mississauga, Caledon, Brampton, and Newmarket.

A statement from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing reads, “the province intends to use these audits to reach a shared understanding of any potential or perceived impacts of the More Homes Built Faster Act as regards changes to development-related fees and charges. This aligns with the province’s previous commitment to ensure that there is no funding shortfall for housing-enabling infrastructure as a result of the More Homes Built Faster Act, provided municipalities meet or exceed their assigned provincial housing targets.”

It also looks like the province wants to get a peek at how municipalities manage their money more generally, adding, “these audits will inform the province’s efforts to ensure taxpayers receive maximum value for money and the best possible services. The province provides billions of dollars in funding to municipalities each year for housing and homelessness, transit, health care, education and infrastructure, including an historic $202 million increase in homelessness prevention funding through Budget 2023 for a total of nearly $700 million each year, as well as $400 million allocated for municipalities through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund in 2023. As an example, these audits may find duplicative spending on back-office supports that would be better spent expanding frontline services.”

The release notes that the Housing Affordability Task Force recommended development fees be aligned with the goal of building more homes, particularly affordable housing, noting that “as development charges go up, the prices of homes go up.”

The Bay Observer contacted the ministry to enquire if Hamilton was going to be audited and received the following response from Minister Steve Clark’s spokesperson; “This is the first step and further audits could be explored in the future. We will continue to work closely with our municipal partners on our shared priorities, including delivering on our goal of building 1.5 million homes by 2031.”

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