Report 2022-COW-33: Implications of Bill 23 on the Region of Durham was brought to the Region of Durham’s Committee of the Whole on December 14, where it was passed.
The report was then brought to council on December 21, where it was also passed.
The report identified key concerns of the Region, which include:
- Removing Regional Council’s role as an approval authority in land use planning decisions, and the Regional Official Plan as the guiding document for integrating land use, infrastructure and financial planning; or the ability to act as an approval authority for major planning decisions with Regional implications;
- Reducing development charge funding and other development financing necessary to pay for the infrastructure required to support significant growth of new housing;
- Removing the ability to collect development charges to support the delivery of critical assisted housing for vulnerable populations;
- Requiring York and Durham Region to build capacity in the York Durham Sewage System (YDSS) and the Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant to service development known as Upper York (Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Newmarket); and
- Servicing impacts of additional unplanned densification.
Conclusions of the report include:
- Bill 23 has significant impacts to planning processes and to the Region’s ability to fund infrastructure related to growth. There remain many unknowns about how Bill 23 will affect coordination between Regional and Municipal and local infrastructure planning, and the delivery of Regional capital projects such as growth-related road projects as certain aspects of the Bill still need to be defined.
- The Region submitted staff-level feedback on Bill 23 to the province through a letter and direct comment to the ERO postings. Council endorsement of this feedback is being sought with a further recommendation that Regional Council call on the province to amend the Act to address the unintended and financially harmful consequences noted in this report. As enacted, it remains doubtful if this legislation will result in more homes being built faster. Builders will typically charge whatever the market will bear for a new home, regardless of any financial breaks they may receive, so the impact of this legislation on affordability is similarly questionable. The focus of this legislation is on supply, but more emphases could be made on demand to address whether the right types of units will be built to accommodate the needs of the current and future population.
- It is important that the Region’s taxpayers understand the impacts of Bill 23. Recent public comments by the province imply that there is either current capacity to absorb these costs or that the costs could be borne by the additional assessment revenue stream from the new homes. That would have the unfortunate result of not leaving assessment growth capacity for the operating impacts of that growth such as paramedics, policing, road maintenance as well as all other Regional services impacted by population service levels. An information campaign will support accountability to property taxpayers and ratepayers about potential increases in tax increases and fees, and impacts on the delivery of Regional infrastructure.