Municipal Impacts of Bill 109

Royal Assent of the More Homes for Everyone Act Means
Royal Headaches for Municipalities

Aerial view of a urban sprawl featuring a subdivision in Houston Texas
Bill 109 is being used by the Ford government as a hammer to slam through a simplistic and misguided market housing strategy which is narrowly focused on quantity, not quality. (Photo of a Houston suburb, credit to Nelson Minar).

Royal assent of Bill 109, the More Homes for Everyone Act, 2022, stands to create some royal headaches for municipalities. We hear, time and again, that municipalities are the children of the province. During post-pandemic recovery, when provincial uploads in the form of financial and capacity relief would be welcomed, the Ford government instead exerted its parental authority under the Planning Act to upload planning decisions that override the local authority of municipalities, including of councils. To add insult to injury, Bill 109 imposes financial penalties, through prorated rebates on application fees, on municipalities already struggling to afford planning and engineering resources.  New, and unrealistic expectations for application approval timelines will punish – rather than help – these under-resourced departments.

Without also changing the limits on the timing of development charges or providing more funding for critical infrastructure – like hospitals, transit, schools – linked to these proposed and accelerated new housing developments, the provincial government is using Bill 109 as a hammer to slam through a simplistic and misguided market housing strategy, which is narrowly focused on quantity, not quality.

Single family residential home in the early stages of construction
Constant changes to provincial regulations constrain the real effort of building accessible, affordable – in the true sense of the word – communities with the health and well-being of our residents in mind.

Ironically, this fluctuating policy environment, courtesy of the Ford government, contributes substantially to the delays that the province is seeking to eliminate. In yanking the growth management rug out from under councils and planning staff, people that have spent years working on Official Plans and intensification strategies, the province has shaken up the snow globe of policy and what has settled out is yet another set of conflicting and problematic statutes. These constant changes constrain the real effort of building accessible, affordable – in the true sense of the word – communities with the health and well-being of our residents in mind. What’s more, it will be left to the local taxpayer base to pick up the tab when developers get prorated rebates (currently fees are cost-recovery), or,  to avoid the impact on ratepayers, planning reports to councils will recommend denial of applications based on lack of completion within stated timelines.  The latter, being the most likely scenario, will ultimately lead to long queues at the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), adding to, not reducing the ‘red tape’(and frustrations!).

Following the April 14th assent of Bill 109, there is still great uncertainty about interpretation and implementation. With more questions than answers, municipalities will be working toward unravelling the implications. As information becomes available, I will post links beneath this blog.  In the interim, an informed electorate is a force to be reckoned with, and I encourage all readers of this post to do their own research and ask questions of the local candidates for MPP (member of provincial parliament) before making your decision at the ballot box on June 2nd, 2022.

Additional Reading

One thought on “Municipal Impacts of Bill 109”

  1. Totally agree with this analysis. Remember, when Ford was running/ took office he publicly said that he is “a businessman first and a politician second.”

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