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Provincial Bill 23 will strip planning controls from municipalities

 The More Homes Built Faster Act will essentially eliminate many of the planning practices currently employed by municipalities.  Hamilton’s new council received that sobering news from planning staff at Planning Committee Tuesday who reported about what the province’s Bill 23 will mean for Hamilton. There was simply no good news for members.

City staff sent a strongly-worded letter to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs opposing bill 23 saying the Bill:

  • Proposes to limit the role of the Conservation Authorities in development approvals to natural hazards only while uploading natural heritage reviews to municipalities;

• Weakens the conservation of land and protection of significant environmental features, allowing development within areas worthy of protection;

• Limits tools for the conservation of cultural heritage resources and may result in possible loss of significant local cultural heritage resources;

• Removes mechanisms to promote good architectural design and require sustainability features through the site plan control process;

• Eliminates appeal rights for the public on Planning Act applications and reduces overall public engagement and involvement;

• Restricts the ability to secure appropriate parkland and recreational amenities to meet community needs;

• Limits the City’s ability to require replacement rental units, cash-in-lieu for replacement units, and other tenant supports when a conversion or demolition is proposed;

• May result in cost awards being made against the City where it is unsuccessful in an appeal at the Ontario Land Tribunal; and,

• Results in unilateral decision making to the Minister on matters of Provincial Interest and removes the ability of the City to engage with the minister to resolve issues.

Essentially the Bill will remove the traditional planning role from the municipalities and remove Conservation Authorities’ almost completely from Municipal planning. Staff had to scramble to get its comments in to the ministry which allowed a tight timeline for comments. The Bill passed the Legislature Monday and is now law.

Hamilton’s Manager of Development Planning Anita Fabac told council, in essence, the Bill 23 pretty much gets an “F” on all counts.

Tomorrow Council will get a look at what the cost impact will be when the province freezes or eliminates development charges. These finds are currently used to pay for the roads and sewers needed to serve new housing developments. The Ontario Municipal Association initially estimated the impact to municipalities at $1 Billion but quickly upgraded the estimate to $5 Billion, On a population basis alone, Hamilton’s share of that amount would be over $200 Million over the next nine years—roughly $20 Million per year—an amount that would be added to the nearly 7 percent tax increase council is looking at right now.

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