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E-BLAST: We're Back! Our First Council Session & Bill 23

Nov 24, 2022

It is my pleasure to write the first E-Blast column of the new term. I know many of you have missed these weekly updates, and I'm glad to be starting up again to make sure our community stays informed about the issues that matter most.

It is a huge honour to be returned to office to represent Don Valley North for another four years. I know that with that honour comes a lot of hard work, and that the years ahead won't be easy. We are continuing to see troubling signs of poor economic health across the globe and I know we are feeling it deeply here in Toronto. At the same time, COVID-19 continues to affect our communities and the way we live our daily lives. The City's finances will continue to feel the pressure of these challenges, and there will be no shortage of issues to address at Council. As always, the goal is to deliver direct service to all of you to improve your quality of life.

My husband Sandy joined me for my Declaration of Office at City Hall yesterday. This term, I will be joining the Mayor's Executive Committee and will act as Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee. This is a committee with a broad set of responsibilities. It is primarily focused on social cohesion and the economy, with a mandate to strengthen communities, neighbourhoods, and economic opportunity. I'm looking forward to working with my Council colleagues to create jobs, support businesses, and build thriving communities here in Toronto.

As Mayor Tory and Council were just inaugurated yesterday, committees have not started up quite yet. The real work begins next week, and after that there will be much more to report to you. As always, I will use this column to keep you informed of any and all work that may impact us here in Don Valley North. And while my new role as Chair may sound like something that will take up all of my time, my wonderful team and I will still be here to support you with both your local and city-wide concerns.

We wrapped up our first Council session of the term today. I'm looking forward to a productive four years ahead. Now, I want to turn to a piece of Provincial legislation that has captured the attention of municipalities across Ontario: Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act. This is the latest instalment in the Province's Housing Supply Action Plan that aims to create 1.5 million new homes over the next ten years. In our fast-growing ward, the impact of this Bill will be significant. There has been plenty of vocal opposition to Bill 23 across the province, from Mayors, Councillors, Chief Planners, residents associations, conservation groups, and more. The Bill was amended slightly during its second reading this week, but in its first iteration it had several dangerous components, listed in a report from City staff to Council from November 3rd. The biggest impacts of this Bill are that it:

  1. Reduces municipal revenues needed to fund growth-related infrastructure

  2. Diminishes housing affordability and rental housing replacement protection

  3. Erodes sustainable and resilient development practices

  4. Overrides Council's decisions on official plan matters

  5. Decreases parkland amount and quality that the City can secure

  6. Threatens the City's ability to protect built and natural heritage

  7. Requires the upzoning of neighbourhoods and lands around transit stations

  8. Introduces further changes to the development review process

  9. Limits appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal and Toronto Local Appeal Body

Many in our neighborhood complained about increased street racing on the 401 and the DVP over the pandemic. It is clear that we are in a housing crisis, and we need to build more homes. However, we're not going to get out of this crisis by gutting the tools that cities use to add more affordable housing, protect renters, meet our climate goals, and fund the delivery of critical new infrastructure to meet the needs of those residents.

As I wrote this column, amendments to Bill 23 were still being announced. City staff prepared an update to their first report, which was presented to Council today. While there are some improvements in the second reading of this Bill, there are still a number of pieces to be concerned about, namely the reduction in the Development Charges that currently cover the cost of new and upgraded infrastructure needed to support growth. Rest assured that I will continue to keep you updated on this Bill as it moves towards its third reading in the coming weeks.

The news clip above outlines some of the major concerns municipalities have about Bill 23, especially surrounding Development Charges. These Provincial changes will have a serious impact on our city and our neighbourhoods, but not all hope is lost. To close off, I want to share a great piece of advice from Guy Matthews, the Manager of our North York Planning Office. Guy attended a local residents' association town hall with me yesterday evening. At the meeting, he reminded us that while the Province has shortened the time frame to consider development applications and reduced opportunities for community consultations, we still have the ability to talk to each other to get the best results possible for our neighbourhoods. My office and our City Planners are still here to work with you on each and every application. Reach out to my office as soon as you have a question or concern about a change coming to your neighbourhood. Your input and lived experience in the area will help ensure the best results for our community, and is the ammunition our planners need to keep fighting for our growing city. If we continue to work together, I'm confident we can build a Don Valley North that is liveable for all.


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