Much has been written and said by experts, advocates and citizens regarding Bill 23 the More Homes Built Faster Act (2022).
Thousands continue to take to the streets in protest. Keep reading to find out what the Act does but first let’s talk about the rationale for this legislation.
In the United States they have the Big Lie. Here I’d call it the Big Why. As in why is the Ford government even doing this?
The Big Why
For those of a certain age, like your blogger, you may be misremembering the history of this whole schmozzle. Here is a bit of a trip down memory lane. It will be an easy trip but because as Doug Ford himself has said on many occasions: “I am about as transparent as it gets.”
This “transparency” was on full display in a video of a private meeting with developers held February 12th 2018. That was a month or so before Ford became leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. On that day Ford shared his belief that the Greenbelt, 8,000 square kilometres of environmentally sensitive and agricultural land, was “just farmer fields.”
The Greenbelt, of course, was created in 2005 to preserve and protect the natural environment, fight climate change and put a limit on development.
Ford said he would “open a big chunk” of the protected land in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area for housing. He needed to be elected to do that.
Apparently, prior to the developer get-together he had “talked to some of the biggest developers in the country.” With appropriate modesty, the now leader of the first government of the people of Ontario acknowledged that it was his idea to open up the greenbelt “but it was the big developers’ idea as well.” The roll out of the scheme was captured on video.
Some were surprised in May of that year when Ford executed a U Turn that would put a formula one racer to shame. He would “maintain the Greenbelt in its entirety” if elected premier in June, he proclaimed.
“(W)e won’t touch the Greenbelt. Very simple. That’s it, the people have spoken. I’m going to listen to them. They don’t want me to touch the Greenbelt, we won’t touch the Greenbelt,” Ford said in a statement before he won a majority in the Ontario election.
That was then. This is now. Those farmer fields are needed now to address the crisis of affordable housing we are told. And there is a crisis to be sure.
“Everyone’s dream is to have a little white picket fence.” Ford goes on: “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 the ideology and politics stand in the way of doing what’s right for all Ontarians.”
Ideology and politics? How about facts?
More than a third of Ontarians rent and the rental proportion of the housing market is growing while ownership is shrinking.
Premier Ford just doesn’t understand (or care to understand) the housing crisis he professes to be so concerned about.
A shortage of land for housing isn’t the cause of the problem. Land is available, both inside the existing built-up areas and on undeveloped land outside greenbelts. That is what the Ford government’s own Housing Affordability Task Force said just last year.
More than a third of Ontarians rent and the rental proportion of the housing market is growing ownership shrinking.
Seniors for Climate Action Now (SCAN!)“SCAN volunteers spent a good deal of time and energy prior to the June 2nd provincial election documenting Ford’s crimes against Climate. New crimes against the environment like the More Homes Built Faster Act are being documented but it is hard to keep up with this repeat offender.
As I have tried to argue the rationale behind the new legislation is bogus. Ford is paving over wetlands and pushing urban sprawl for the benefit of some developers. Space does not allow a complete critique but just consider these points.
- Bill 23 is an omnibus bill. It makes significant changes to ten separate acts. The sheer size and scope of omnibus bills means that analyzing them and mounting well-informed political opposition is exceptionally difficult. We thought it was bad in the first term.
- No consultation occurred with First Nations, a clear violation of Indigenous Rights and the province’s legal duty to consult. The government is “respectfully advised that development cannot proceed without full recognition of the rights of our Nations,” Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Derek Fox said in a recent statement.
- Bill 23 will give the Minister the power to override municipal planning decisions and impose development.
- Watershed planning, arguably the most important aspect of Conservation Authorities work, will be severely diminished, and replaced with piecemeal planning by over 400 individual municipalities.
- The Ontario Wetland Evaluation System for identifying Provincially Significant Wetlands will be overhauled. The result is that very few wetlands would be deemed provincially significant in the future.
Nature has a good summary of environmental impacts of Bill 23.
What to Do
We must keep the pressure up to rescind this legislation. Local MPP’s have some understanding of what the real impacts on the ground would be. and know that what is being done is not in the long-term interest of their constituents and the environment. They can answer the Big Why question. Visit your local MPP.
Follow SCAN!’s website and provide your support to SCAN! and the groups it cooperates with in upcoming activities to oppose Ford’s harmful measures.
Port Rowan’s Bob Wood is a SCAN! member who worked many years in social justice and municipal politics.
We welcome comments and feedback. Please send your responses to
A Reader’s Comment
A much-needed informative and clear description of Ford’s undermining of the people’s wishes and the future welfare of the province. I hope Wood’s call to join SCAN will bring it many members. Sincerely, David Richard Beasley (28 January 2023)