STONEY CREEK 20221109

Ontario’s Bill 23

The central focus of the Doug Ford government’s second-term has so far been defined by the pursuit of more affordable homes in Ontario and how to build them as fast as possible.

To do this, the Ford government created a new, massive, complex and wide-impacting law: Bill 23, or the More Homes Built Faster Act, is an omnibus piece of Ontario housing legislation that “streamlines” dozens of laws to build 1.5 million homes in the next 10 years. 

What is Bill 23?

The bulk of these homes will be built in 29 municipalities, with Bill 23 requiring each municipality to develop “pledges” on how they will meet their assigned quota. In fact, the provincial government has overridden local democratic decisions in at least two municipalities — Hamilton and Halton Region — that didn’t want to sprawl beyond their urban boundaries. Instead of allowing them to intensify, the Ford government has ordered both municipalities to develop vital farmland, greenspace and pockets of the Greenbelt

Additionally, the bill makes sweeping changes to environmental protections to build housing across the province, gutting everything from conservation authorities to wetlands to the quality of parks

“Everyone’s dream is to have a little white picket fence,” Ford said at an Oct. 25 industry event where he announced the Ontario housing bill. “You know, when they put the key in the door, they know they’re building equity into it, they can do the little tweaks to their house and increase the value of it. That’s our goal. We won’t let ideology and politics stand in the way of doing what’s right for all Ontarians.”

Bill 23 protests and opposition

Since the bill has been tabled and passed into law, Ontarians, conservation and environment experts, local governments, public servants and even developers have been urging the government to be “cautious” and reconsider their approach. The risk, they all say, is irreversible damage to the environment that will exacerbate the impacts of severe climate events like heat and flooding. 

The Chiefs of Ontario have also called for the repeal of the omnibus housing act, Bill 23, citing the Progressive Conservative government’s lack of consultation with Indigenous communities, which Indigenous leaders have called  “unlawful” and an “abuse of power.” 

Despite this heavy pushback, the province is standing firm in its decision and made Bill 23 law in November 2022. It was, however, amended to return powers to municipalities to mandate “green standards” for new development to ensure they are as energy efficient as possible and to allow residents to appeal building projects. Also struck out were proposed new rules that would have sped up aggregate mining to produce more sand and gravel for construction. 

Keep up to date with the latest developments on Bill 23 by checking out our reporting below.

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The Narwhal’s reporters are telling environment stories you won’t read about anywhere else. Stay in the loop by signing up for a weekly dose of independent journalism.