Property Taxes are about to Rise Thanks to Bill 23


Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, is an atrocity that will screw us over in many ways. I lightly touched on it a couple months ago in a little blurb, though I did not get into the full extent of how problematic it really is. Now that I’ve had the chance to listen to some of the municipal council discussions on the issue, I’m just boggled by how big a shit show we may be in for.

Although the intent of this Bill is to incentivize housing development by waiving development charges and reducing parkland dedication requirements, it comes at the expense of cash-strapped municipalities that will lose a great deal of revenue from development charges that typically fund capital infrastructure, schools and.public amenities. For example, the City of Mississauga will need to cover about $800 million over ten years. Given the imitated sources of revenue that municipalities have, this shortfall may need to be covered by property taxes. So taxpayers are effectively funding developers without any guarantee that these savings will be passed down to the end user because home prices are primary affected by interest rates and market conditions rather than development costs. Further, we get fewer new community centres and public spaces, which means families without back yards (like mine) have fewer places to take their kids and pets.

The whole point of development charges is to have growth pay for itself since development comes with the need for more sewage, roads and emergency services, as well as schools and public amenities (eg. community centres).

The Ford government also plans to open up parts of the Greenbelt, which would undo decades of planning to curb sprawl, protect natural heritage, valuable flood plains, and Indigenous Treaty rights.

Alfredo DeGasperis
Alfredo DeGasperis: Rich white guy who stands to profit at our expense.

Further, just simply increasing the supply of housing in the urban periphery doesn’t address the real issue, which is affordability. because what’s really the point of building houses in places where those who depend on housing affordability can’t even get to without the luxury of a car?

The clear winners here are developers that plan to build another sea of cookie-cutter subdivisions on lands that should be protected.

The Ford government has given an early Christmas present to Fieldgate, Condor and others.

Ontario’s New Housing Legislation and Municipal Planning

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing passed the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022, as a measure to increase the supply of affordable housing quickly by removing red tape, streamlining the development approval process and reducing development costs.

Picture of laneway with recently constructed home.
Laneways provide a great opportunity to add gentle density to some of Toronto’s mature neihourhoods.

Anyone who’s been following local politics during the recent municipal elections is probably annoyed and sick of hearing promises about getting affordable housing built. Although the cost of housing in major cities like Toronto has been skyrocketing for decades, the topic is yet again the “flavour of the week”. What’s even more annoying is how everybody has tried to leverage the issue to advance their own agenda. Just about every political candidate had made it a central focus of their campaign. Developers have tried to pressure municipalities for approvals claiming that increasing supply in the housing market would make it more affordable. Even the Premier himself has used it as rationale to push the strong mayor system onto municipalities.

Having briefly reviewed the legislation, it does have some promising potential to address some longstanding planning needs, such as the missing middle, by permitting gentle density on single-home properties without a zoning amendment, which can really help spark a long overdue wave of laneway development and utilization of excess open space in post-war bungalow suburbs in the form of granny flats and garden suites without NIMBYs getting in the way.

An area of concern, however, is the exemption of parkland dedication and community benefit and development charges for inclusionary zoning units, which takes away funding for new infrastructure and public amenities necessary to support the influx of residents that come with new development, especially higher density development, Schools, community centres and parks are needed regardless of the cost of housing, so I expect it could be an issue to come to light down the road.

Further, many critics are not convinced that simply increasing the supply of housing would improve affordability. There has been plenty of residential development over the past twenty years, yet rents and home prices have increased significantly.

Although not all is ideal, it shows that the Province realizes the urgency of the crisis and is trying to steer in the right direction, even if it means taking the wheel from municipalities.