This is a very fluid situation and news are coming quickly. Facts were accurate at the time of writing but might evolve. We will try to update this article as much as we can.
Latest update – December 09th
Bill 23 – More homes built faster has passed in Parliament on Monday November 28th, only 34 days after being introduced, a record time. This bill, aimed to address the Ontario housing crisis, is in fact an attack on the environment, local governance and democracy, taxpayers and will not resolve any problem, only maybe make them worse (scroll down to learn more).
It is not too late to tell the government to back off and repeal this bill to come up with actual solutions to help solving the housing crisis, without destroying the Greenbelt.
You are not alone upset about Bill 23 and bill 39. Ontarians are not happy about it and do not want the Greenbelt opened.
Don’t lose hope and do not forget, any action you take matters! We got this!
Graph from Mainstreet research – Article here
Why is Bill 23 a bad legislation?
The Government argues that bill 23 is a unique opportunity to bring jobs, increase affordability, accommodate growth and will support Ontario moving forward. The plan is to build 1.5 million residential units in 10 years. However, all experts in various fields disagree with this.
Do we need land to build in the Greenbelt?
No. There is enough land within cities and others areas in Ontario to build enough housing to accomodate growth.
The Ontario Housing Affordability Taskforce explains in their latest report that land in the Greenbelt is NOT needed for development and building there will be counter-productive, providing housing in areas where it is not needed, amplifying the current crisis.
In addition, there are currently 88,000 acres currently approved for development within municipal boundaries in the GTA and Hamilton area. Furthermore, Big Cities Mayors report that there is an excess of 400,000 already approved building permits held up because of market conditions, supply chain issues or labor shortages.
Will bill 23 solve the housing crisis?
Most experts actually agree that this bill won’t help. The bill is land and labour intensive and by passing on development costs to municipalities, won’t help to make housing more accessible. You can learn more by watching this video where experts discuss the topic. WATCH HERE
Will it make housing affordable?
There are no guarantee that Bill 23 will help reduce the cost of housing. In fact, it is likely to increase it.
The bill is waiving development taxes meaning that municipalities will be left to fill the bill. They have two options: reduce services and investments and / or increase property taxes. Many municipalities are opposing the bill and have warned of its dramatic effect for tax payers.
Above is a map of some of the municipalities who voted a motion against bill 23. Click on the image for a bigger resolution.
List of opposing parties to the bill (click the name to access their statements / letters)
And many more!
Why is the Greenbelt important?
The Greenbelt is a “permanently” (not anymore, it seems!) protected area of green space, farmland, forests, wetlands, and watersheds, located in Southern Ontario, Canada. It surrounds a significant portion of the Golden Horseshoe.
Created by legislation passed by the Government of Ontario in 2005, the Greenbelt is considered a prevention of urban development and sprawl on environmentally sensitive land in the province. According to the Greenbelt Foundation, the Greenbelt includes 2,000,000 acres (810,000 ha) of land. That includes 721,000 acres (292,000 ha) of protected wetlands, grasslands, and forests.
The Greenbelt generates approximately $9.1 billion of revenues annually through farming, tourism and other activities.
It is one of our main defense against the impacts of climate change, mitigating flood risks, helping air pollution and sheltering biodiversity.
Several infrastructure projects are currently threatening the greenbelt and other protected areas in Ontario: the Bradford bypass, the highway 413 and now bill 23. As bill 23 is passed, environmentalists are concerned that it will pave the way to more requests to open the Greenbelt and threaten its whole integrity in the long run.
The Greenbelt is one of the biggest protected ecosystem in Ontario, providing more than $1 billion of ecological services annually. It is one of our main defense against climate change, acting as a carbon sink, filtering air and water pollution through wetlands, regulating water flows and mitigating flood risks across the region. It is also home of many species, including 78 species at risk and home of cedar trees 800 years old or even more.
In addition, some of the best agricultural land in Ontario is located within its boundaries and this cannot be ignored as the Province is currently losing 319 acres of farmland daily. At a time where food insecurity is rising, it seems important to protect this prime farmland.
Who benefits from the bill?
Big winners from bill 23 are definitely developers who own land in the Greenbelt. Some of them are tied to Ford and have bought land weeks before bill 23 was introduced. All these “coincidences” have led the opposition parties to require an investigation from the Integrity Commissioner to see if indeed any ethical conduct was broken.
Below are some maps showing some blatant superpositions between land owned by developers and projects launched by the Ford Government.
What about the addition of new land to the Greenbelt?
The Government is planning to add some land to the Greenbelt to “compensate” what is taken away but specialists say that most of the land offered is already protected.
Rest of the land is mostly in the Town of Erin and this decision, with little to no consultation with local actors, have left people puzzled. Specialists also agree that these new additions do not make much sense with regards to biodiversity corridors.
Not all land is equal when it comes to conservation, so we must make sure to protect what is left at all cost.