Updated November 18, 2022.
With the intent of increasing the supply of housing in the province, the Ontario government has introduced Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022. This Bill aims to minimize barriers to housing development by proposing significant changes to several pieces of provincial legislation.
From conservation to zoning to local government fee structures, Bill 23 addresses multiple factors affecting Ontario’s housing supply. Most notably, the Bill removes key oversight provisions and fee structures that ensure the sustainable and equitable development of communities. The impact of this on parks and recreation services will be significant. So too will be the effect on the economic, environmental, and social health of Ontario. The Bill has passed second reading and has been referred to the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure, and Cultural Policy. You can read PRO's submission to the committee here.
The Bill 23 Toolkit includes a high level explainer, a social media asset, and template letters to your political representatives.
As proposed, Bill 23 threatens to have serious economic, environmental, and social implications for the province. PRO will focus its work primarily on the following schedules:
Below is a preliminary list of key considerations on this Bill as it pertains to parks and recreation services. It is not an exhaustive list of all relevant provisions. In the coming days, PRO will continue to analyze the policy changes contained within the Bill.
Bill 23 strips local governments and conservation authorities of the power they need to provide critical services, implement sustainable environments, and build livable communities.
The changes made to the Development Charges Act and Planning Act will have a significant impact on how municipalities are able to recover the costs associated with growth.
The reduction (or elimination) of development charges, community benefit charges, and parkland dedication quotas for high and medium density areas and affordable and attainable housing threatens parks and recreation at its core.
Local governments rely on fees such as development and community benefit charges to fund municipal services such as parks and recreation. Lacking adequate revenue from these sources, municipalities will be responsible for providing services to a greater number of residents with less dollars per capita to make this happen.
Without a corresponding increase in revenue, this will result in a drop in service provision and fewer amenities, particularly for newly developed communities without a corresponding increase in other revenue streams. This would shift the financial burden of growth from developers to taxpayers, feeding into Ontario’s affordability crisis.
The proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act run counter to the work done by the provincial government in partnership with municipalities and conservation authorities to preserve Ontario’s environment.
In the last two years, the provincial government has worked with Ontario’s conservation authorities as part of the Conservation Authority Working Group to ensure that environmental concerns were well-represented. This Bill threatens to undermine the recommendations put forward by this group.
Limiting the power of conservation authorities to review development applications, freezing fees, and prohibiting the use of pollution mitigation or land conservation as factors in considering prospective developments can only further deepn the effects of climate change Ontarians are seeing at the local level.
In addition, provisions to limit parkland dedication and inhibit flexibility in municipal spending of reserve funds will lead to fewer green spaces in communities. The repercussions of these policies will be felt in terms of Ontario’s physical, environmental, and economic health.
Bill 23 will create deeply divided communities that provide inequitable access to services and amenities.
Developing new fee structures and parkland quotas that are not applied equitably across the board means that some Ontarians will have less access to parks and recreation services—a key factor when measuring quality of life. Taking a deeper look at these provisions, particularly changes that exempt affordable and attainable housing from development and community benefit charges and parkland dedication quotas, it will be Ontarians with fewer resources that will suffer.