Tomorrow (12 December) Newmarket Council will vote on a motion condemning Doug Ford’s Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022.
The motion says the Town cannot meet Ford’s stated target of 12,000 new homes by 2031. It says the Act will have a “significant negative impact” on heritage and social housing and will undermine environmental protection. It claims taxpayers across the province could be on the hook for up to $1 billion as developers’ costs are transferred to them.
Bill 23 is now law after being rushed through the legislature with many people wishing to comment but unable to do so because of the compressed timetable.
The Town’s motion will register its formal opposition to Bill 23 which, if passed, will go to the Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister, Steve Clark, and to our local MPP Dawn Gallagher-Murphy who is, unfortunately, a complete lightweight and cipher.
"Efficient local decision making"
Dawn Gallagher Murphy has been running ads in the local press expressing her support for Bill 23. And, last week, in her single contribution to the debate on its sister legislation, Bill 39, the Better Municipal Governance Act, she said this:
“The core of this legislation, it is very simple. I’ve read it over a few times now, and it is very simple. It gives local legislatures elected by Ontarians the extra tools that support efficient local decision-making. That’s something I want to reiterate: efficient local decision-making.
It also gives elected officials the tools they need to remove barriers that are stalling development, like housing. I want to reiterate that point: It’s stalling development.”
Majority Minority Rule
The Better Municipal Governance Act was also fast-tracked becoming law in three weeks from start to finish. It got a huge amount of media coverage, panning the proposal to allow the Mayor of Toronto to get his way if only one third of City councillors support his proposals which must be “Provincial priorities”. And, comically, it is the Mayor who decides if his proposals meet that test.
Gallagher Murphy talks about “local legislatures elected by Ontarians” blissfully unaware of the fact that the Bill gives the Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister the powers to appoint the Regional Chair in York region (and in Niagara and Peel).
Our MPP’s democratic credentials are, of course, wafer thin as she was personally selected by Doug Ford to run as PC candidate for Newmarket-Aurora with local Party members entirely cut out of the process.
As the official PC candidate she boycotted the election debates after claiming she missed the first one because of a “family emergency”. All invented.
In an excellent op-ed in this morning’s Toronto Star, Irene Ford draws attention to the hypocrisy of the Government’s approach (How far are Ontarians willing to go to protect the Greenbelt?). At the Provincial election only six months ago Ford was silent on his real agenda. A few bland slogans, echoed by Dawn Gallagher Murphy, concealed the true reality.
Returning lands to the Greenbelt
In her recent newsletter (2 December 2022) Gallagher Murphy says:
“Should these lands be removed from the Greenbelt, it is the government’s expectation that the landowners develop detailed plans to build housing quickly. Significant progress on approvals and implementation must be achieved by the end of 2023, with construction begun no later than 2025. If these conditions are not met, our government will return these properties to the Greenbelt.”
That's a hostage to fortune if ever I've heard one. And it will upset the powerful developers who bankroll the Progressive Conservatives.
This is a very accelerated timetable given that sewage and wastewater treatment capacity in Newmarket and the surrounding area is going to run out in five years. Gallagher Muphy can only deliver her promise if sewage and wastewater from the north of York Region can be directed in double-quick time down to Duffin Creek on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Personally, I'd like to see the Town invite Dawn Gallagher Murphy to a meeting to discuss the practicalities of delivering Doug Ford’s agenda – and the assault on our democracy.
I’d love to be a fly on the wall, listening to our Mayor and MPP in conversation.
It could be streamed or zoomed quite painlessly but, of course, it will never happen.
Click “Read More” below to read Gallagher Murphy’s "Community Update and Greenbelt Message."
Message From MPP Dawn Gallagher Murphy on The Greenbelt
Newmarket-Aurora Community Update and Greenbelt Message - Dec 2nd, 2022To the residents of Newmarket-Aurora, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to a few inquiries my constituency office has received regarding the Greenbelt. Last Month, the government launched a consultation on proposed changes to the Greenbelt.
We are taking further action to support our ambitious goal of building 1.5 million homes in the next decade by launching this consultation. These proposals will help build at least 50,000 new homes, while leading to an overall expansion of the Greenbelt of approximately 2,000 acres.
Our government is keeping its promise to consider every viable option to get more homes built faster so that Ontarians priced out of the housing market can realize their dream of homeownership. With the federal government’s recent announcement that it will raise immigration targets to approximately half a million newcomers each year, it is especially important that Ontario have the housing supply needed to welcome these newcomers and support existing residents.
Ontario is expected to grow by more than two million people by 2031, with approximately 1.5 million people living in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region. To accommodate that growth and support the building of more homes, our government is proposing to remove 15 parcels of land totalling approximately 7,400 acres (approximately 2,995 hectares) from the edge of the Greenbelt area. NOTE: This proposed change affects 0.37 percent of the Greenbelt. Given their locations adjacent to existing settlements and transit, it makes sense to remove these lands.
We are also proposing to add an additional 9,400 acres to the Greenbelt, including a portion of the Paris Galt Moraine and 13 urban river valleys in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, for an overall Greenbelt expansion of approximately 2,000 acres.
Should these lands be removed from the Greenbelt, it is the government’s expectation that the landowners develop detailed plans to build housing quickly. Significant progress on approvals and implementation must be achieved by the end of 2023, with construction begun no later than 2025. If these conditions are not met, our government will return these properties to the Greenbelt. These proposals will support our municipal partners’ plan for responsible growth and help build housing faster and in a targeted manner, while leading to an overall expansion of the Greenbelt.
For the purposes of a collective understanding, the Greenbelt includes over 800,000 hectares of land in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including farmland, forests, and wetlands, as well as homes and infrastructure. The legislation which created the protected space still allows for large infrastructure projects like highways and gravel mines to be built through its heart, and existing settlement areas are permitted to be developed. As such, infrastructure, including highways, water, and wastewater projects, is permitted where it supports the significant growth and economic development expected in southern Ontario.
To be clear, Ontario’s farmland is critical to the success of our agri-food sector, which is a key driver of the economy and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs. Under our government, crop production has remained consistent in Ontario and productivity continues to increase. Ontario’s agri-food sector continues to grow, increasing by over 5% in 2021, with the total value of farm cash receipts and the total value of capital on Ontario farms growing by about 40 percent since 2016.
Another item I would like to clarify relates to 'green standards amendments' in Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster (Ontario's Plan to Build More Homes Faster - Dawn Gallagher Murphy (dawngallaghermurphympp.ca). Municipalities have used site plan control as a mechanism to implement ‘Green Standards’ that can include enhanced energy efficiency requirements and sustainability features, as well as environmentally sustainable landscaping and bird friendly design.
Bill 23 was not intended to prevent municipalities from addressing these types of matters - but to prevent municipalities from using site plan to implement unnecessary visual design requirements, like mandating a certain type of brick exterior colour or finish. Often these requirements lead to increased costs and significant delays.
Through the legislative process, the government proposed changes to Bill 23 that would give municipalities the authority to apply green development standards through site plan control by referencing opt-in Building Code standards that we will be developing, if they pass by-laws to this effect. We recognize the important work being done by municipalities by providing them with a solid foundation for requiring green building standards in both site plan control and the Building Code.
While the Ontario Building Code already contains high standards for energy efficiency that apply across the province, the additional improvements for energy efficiency and other green measures to be developed for the next edition of Ontario’s Building Code will make Ontario a national leader in green building standards and provide a consistent approach for municipalities that choose to apply these requirements.