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Setting the record straight on Bill 108
Setting the record straight on Bill 108
June 27, 2019

I want to clear up misinformation currently being circulated by some municipal leaders in our region.

The provincial government firmly believes that growth should pay for growth. In passing Bill 108, we are moving towards a system where developers, not taxpayers, fund growth.

Despite claims to the contrary, extensive consultations took place in the development of the More Homes, More Choice Act. Within months of the June 2018 election, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark began consultations in the development of the Ontario government’s new Housing Supply Action Plan.

Minister Clark met with local Mayors at the Association of Ontario Municipalities, (AMO) conference last August in Ottawa and at the Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus of Ontario, (LUMCO) last month in Toronto. In fact, at the recent LUMCO meeting, the Minister advised that if Bill 108 passed, the Ministry would be consulting further on the Community Benefits formula.

The Minister sent a follow-up letter to all heads of Municipal Council in advance of a June 14th meeting with AMO members.

The Ontario government received over 2,000 submissions – with more than 85 per cent from the public. There were also community meetings and housing forums in towns and cities across Ontario.

As part of Bill 108, changes were made to the Planning Act to simplify how municipalities collect funds for community benefits like parks and daycares. Minister Clark has been clear that one of our goals in establishing the new community benefits approach is to maintain municipal revenues. We want municipalities to recover similar revenues from community benefits charges to what they have collected from development charges.

It’s important that municipalities have the resources to support complete communities and give the public the opportunity to provide input through public consultation. This does not happen in todays Section 37 negotiations.

In April 2018, then Councillor Marianne Meed Ward said that (under the pre-Bill 108 system) “residents don’t have a seat at the table when negotiating Section 37 Community Benefits. The Ward Councillor is consulted, but also doesn’t have a seat at the table, and their input can be ignored.” We agree with the Mayor that Section 37 was not serving the best interests of local residents. That’s why we are working to ensure there is more public input into community benefits decisions through a municipality wide community benefits strategy.

Let me be clear; we are not removing community protections. The government will continue to consult with our municipal partners on the development of a community benefits charge that takes the politics out of planning. Our plan includes changes to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) – formerly the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) that were born out of necessity.

In March 2019, nearly a year after the LPAT came into effect, one of the first significant cases resulted in the LPAT asking the courts for help figuring out how they should operate. Further, the tribunal has a backlog of legacy cases from the old OMB and a 2 to 3-year appeals process at a time when Ontario is facing a housing affordability crisis.

This is unacceptable.

The new LPAT will take the best of both, the old OMB and existing LPAT. Thanks to the Attorney General’s support, we are also adding 11 new adjudicators, a 45% increase, to tackle the backlog of cases in the next 18 months. We’re also encouraging mediation to reduce the number of cases that actually proceed to a formal hearing. The Fraser Institute has described the changes to the LPAT as, “some of the boldest steps towards affordability the province has seen in a long time.”

The Province’s 2006 Growth Plan is guided by the desire to build compact, vibrant and complete communities. It does not replace local official plans, but it does provide a framework for growth that requires municipalities to update their Official Plans to ensure compliance with the Places to Grow Act.

Oakville updated their Official Plan in 2009 to conform, and Milton amended their 1997 Official Plan in 2010 to meet these provincial policy changes.

In contrast, Burlington’s 25-year-old Official Plan (OP) doesn’t respond effectively to the growth pressures of 2019. Our outdated OP reflects a time when Burlington was 50,000 people smaller, back when the average price of a detached house was about $200,000.

Burlington’s OP also does not take into account he most significant changes to planning policies in Ontario’s history. That is a big part of why, more often than not, Burlington has surrendered local planning decisions to both the old OMB and current LPAT. To take back some local control, the City needs to act quickly to adopt a new Official Plan that complies with the Places to Grow Act and will be approved by Halton Region.

According to 2017 projections by Ontario’s Ministry of Finance, Halton Region will grow by 56.2 per cent in the next 22 years. This will make Halton the fastest-growing area in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. That’s why good planning today is vital to create strong healthy communities for our kids and grandkids.

There is a housing supply crisis in Ontario. The government’s More Homes, More Choice plan will make it easier to build a mix of housing, townhomes, apartments, condos and single family homes for people to rent or own. Whether built by home builders or non-profits, our plan will help units get built, cut red tape around process approvals, and bring costs down for residents.

[Click Here to view the original article from the Burlington Post's June 27, 2019 Issue.]

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