Cities Must be Made Whole: City of Mississauga Responds to Devastating Financial Impacts of Bill 23

Today, at a Special Council Meeting, City staff provided an overview of Bill 23, the Build More Homes Faster Act, 2022 and its potential impacts on Mississauga. The Bill introduces changes, which, if approved, would significantly limit the City’s ability to provide important housing-related infrastructure and services resulting in increased costs for Mississauga residents.

“We want to work with the province to build more housing and while we agree that bold action needs to be taken, it can’t be done at the expense of our city and ultimately, our taxpayers. Cities can’t be expected to fund provincial incentives to help bring more affordability to the market. Right now, we have no guarantees from either level of government that cities will be made whole and that’s extremely concerning. If passed, this legislation puts our plans to build and maintain parks and open spaces, libraries, fire stations, sewers, roads and public transit that future and existing residents need and deserve on hold. Our Council works hard each day to deliver fairness for taxpayers and I encourage the government to find a solution that doesn’t put the gains we’ve made at risk.”

Mayor Crombie

According to the staff report, the City stands to lose over $800 million in revenue over the next 10 years. This includes more than $320 million for growth-related infrastructure and a staggering 70 per cent loss of revenues collected for the purchase of parkland. The shortfall stems from Bill 23’s proposed changes to development charges and parkland dedication.

“Building complete communities requires cooperation with the private sector and all levels of government,” said Shari Lichterman, Commissioner, Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer. “Cities are facing significant financial impacts but there is no guarantee that developers will be required to pass any savings resulting from lower growth and parkland charges on to new homeowners. This must be addressed because as it stands, the quality of life in our communities will suffer at the expense of developer profits.”

In addition to the projected loss of revenue, the staff report highlights the impact Bill 23 could have on affordable housing. The legislation proposes to reduce or eliminate the few tools municipalities have to deliver affordable housing.  For example:

  • The proposed five per cent cap for inclusionary zoning (IZ) units will result in a minimum of 30 per cent fewer affordable units than the City anticipated when it passed its IZ policy earlier this year.
  • The shift to a market-based definition of affordability for IZ units would mean that the vast majority of Mississauga’s essential workforce would be priced out of these homes.
  • Rental protection laws would be removed or scaled back.

As part of the province’s overall 1.5 million new homes target, Mississauga must pledge to build 120,000 homes in the next ten years (approximately 12,000 units a year).

“We welcome growth in Mississauga and have a robust plan to build more housing, including allowing for unlimited height and density in our downtown and gentle density in our neighbourhoods. But, as we build more supply, we can’t forget about affordability,” said Andrew Whittemore, Commissioner, Planning and Building. “Given the depth of the affordability issues across Ontario, the Province must continue to protect rental housing and ensure that the supply of affordable housing continues to grow alongside market units.”

The City already has policies in place that will assist Mississauga in achieving the provincial targets, however, the staff report questions whether the development industry is prepared to bring those units to market given economic conditions, persistent labour and material challenges.

The staff report also outlines concerns echoed by many stakeholders around the potential impacts on Ontario’s heritage, natural environment and the ability to adapt to climate change. Of note for Mississauga is the new proposed “Ecological Offsetting” policy which would set a dangerous precedent by chipping away at the amount of natural spaces covered by the City’s Natural Heritage System.

Today’s report, which was endorsed by City Council, authorizes staff to submit detailed comments on Bill 23 to the Government of Ontario during the consultation period.

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