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‘Significant risks’: Council calls on province to repeal Bill 23

In Climate Change
Dec 10th, 2022

‘This is not an ecologically sound bill,’ says mayor; City is calling on MPP Jill Dunlop to come to council to explain ‘logic and rationale’ behind Bill 23
Greg McGrath-Goudie
Dec9 2022

Orillia’s city council has joined a growing number of Ontario municipalities that are speaking out against Bill 23.

Councillors Janet-Lynne Durnford, Jay Fallis, and Whitney Smith tabled a motion at Wednesday’s council meeting calling on the provincial government to overturn the More Homes Built Faster Act.

Their accompanying report to council highlighted numerous impacts the bill will have on the city, including a substantial loss of revenue through development charges, weakened environmental protections, the removal of public meeting requirements for certain planning matters, and more.

City staff estimate the bill will cost the city $13.4 million over the next five years.

“Anything that builds homes faster, within reason, is a good thing, but I think it stops there. For Orillia, this will cost us $13 million over five years,” said Mayor Don McIsaac during Wednesday’s discussion. “It’s egregious that the provincial government did not consult with Indigenous peoples as required.

“Orillia has a significant loss of wetlands here; this is not an ecologically sound bill, and it burdens us with dubious results and significant risks for marginal gain,” McIsaac said.

Council agreed to send a letter to Premier Doug Ford, several provincial cabinet ministers, Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop and MP Adam Chambers, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and all Ontario municipalities, calling for the bill to be overturned while highlighting its fiscal, environmental, democratic, and quality of life impacts.

In addition, council voted to invite Dunlop to a future meeting to explain the “logic and rationale” behind the bill, upon Coun. Tim Lauer’s suggestion.

McIsaac expressed interest in attaching a letter written himself to the submission, as well.

Coun. Jay Fallis, following a conversation with Sustainable Orillia president Stan Matheson, said he worries the bill will undo many of the city’s efforts to implement climate change protections.

“As we’re working as a community, and as a city, to try to address climate change, and we’re investing all this infrastructure and time and money in doing that, in one swoop some of the measures of this bill are going to kill many of those efforts,” he said. “I think it’s very warranted to bring something like this forward, and I hope the province will listen, not just to us, but also to many municipalities that have lined up to oppose this legislation.”

The city joins the towns of Aurora, Collingwood, and Georgina, Prince Edward County, and more in speaking out against Bill 23 since its passage in November.

Councillors Whitney Smith and Ralph Cipolla also highlighted the Premier’s recent comments to the mayor of Mississauga, where the city will lose $885 million in development charges over the next ten years.

“Part of what Doug Ford was saying, ‘Get on board and stop whining,’ was to the Mississauga mayor, and it’s going to cost them $885 million,” Smith said. “That’s his posture.”

“That’s a tough thing to hear,” said McIsaac.
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