Ontario passes housing bill amid criticism from cities, conservation authorities


Ontario has passed a bill intended to spur housing development amid criticism that it will leave municipalities short billions of dollars, increase property taxes and reduce the role of conservation authorities.

One of the most controversial aspects of the bill is freezing, reducing and exempting fees developers pay.

Those fees go to municipalities and are then used to pay for services to support new homes, such as road and sewer infrastructure and community centres.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario says the changes could leave municipalities short $5 billion and see taxpayers footing the bill – either in the form of higher property taxes or service cuts – and there is nothing in the bill that would guarantee improved housing affordability. 

The bill also limits the areas conservation authorities can consider in development permissions, removing factors such as pollution and conservation of the land.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark says Ontario is in a housing crisis and the measures in the new law are necessary to ensure the province can achieve its goal of building 1.5 million homes in 10 years.