Slippery Slope


Whether we like it or not, intensification (the concentration of the number of people within a given area) has become a way of life in our community and there is a legitimate demand in many cases. But that is not the issue in question. The issues are:

  1. what is a legitimate demand and,

  2. who should decide.

Under the current system called Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), the former Liberal provincial government put land use decision making power back into the hands of elected local governments and the communities they serve. LPAT replaced the former Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The OMB system did not best serve the needs of local communities because it was made up of government appointed members who had no responsibility or accountability to the communities their decisions affected. In fact, the OMB often rendered decisions contrary to the recommendations of local governments, planning departments and the community.

Developers were well aware of this and used the OMB to reverse local council, planning department or community recommendations and decisions. Developers became fairly confident that if they appealed local government/planning department decisions that did not favour their proposals regarding density, height, etc., the OMB was likely to approve their proposals. We, the community, had very little protection against OMB decisions and it was extremely expensive to fight them. Under the current system Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), the municipalities join in the decision making, through elected representatives, and have more control over what happens in their area.

The current provincial government is proposing to cancel LPAT and introduce another new process, Housing Supply Action Plan, that closely mimics the old OMB process of land use decision making.

This proposed bill may also lead the way for the reintroduction of legislation similar to Bill 66. If you remember, Bill 66 was introduced by the current provincial government and would have allowed for the development of our fragile wet lands and greenbelt. That would have had devastating effects on the environment. Communities and local governments rallied against Bill 66 and it was quashed. Now the provincial government is trying to introduce another bill that takes decision making power away from us.

Like Bill 66, the government is only allowing 30 days before this bill becomes law. It is important that we act now.

The SpringFarm Ratepayers Association has been very vocal at both Council and the province in our opposition to Bill 66 or any legislation that takes land use decision making power away from elected local government and therefore the community.

Aurora Mayor Tom Mrakas who was the former chair of the OMB reform committee was quick to call the proposal a “big mistake.” He said, “The ability to manage growth in our communities has just taken a huge step backwards and it is unacceptable. Once again, an unelected, unaccountable body will get to decide what’s best for our community when it comes to growth and development. Should the proposed legislation pass as is, municipalities will again be relegated to the sidelines when it comes to land-use planning decisions for their own communities.”

Just like Bill 66, we should not allow the Ontario government to implement Housing Supply Action Plan without our input. We call upon our member of provincial parliament, Gila Martow, to demand this proposed bill be withdrawn, public meetings to hear from all communities must be held and the government must not allow this Bill to be put into law without our input. We also ask our local councillor Alan Shefman to petition the City of Vaughan Council, Committee of the Whole, to hold public meetings regarding this issue.

Contact Ms. Martow and Mr. Shefman and let them know that the community does not endorse the Housing Supply Action Plan and we want it quashed.

Please ask your family and friends to email Ms. Martow and Mr. Shefman and say: "I am against changes to the current LPAT system and I vote NO to the new proposed legislation called Housing Supply Action Plan. The provincial government must stop the proposed Housing Supply Action Plan legislation now. The public deserves to be heard and it’s your responsibility to ensure that we are heard.”

Ms. Martow can be reached through her staff at email: nathan.mcmillan@pc.ola.org

Ward 5 councillor Alan Shefman’s email is: Alan.Shefman@vaughan.ca

Regards, SpringFarm Ratepayers Executive

Please take a look at the article below, there is much more information.

Huge step backward: politicians, activists blast province's new housing strategy

New Housing Supply Action Plan 'undemocratic, regressive, unacceptable'

Yorkregion.com May 3, 2019 Kim Zarzour

Undemocratic, regressive, unacceptable.

Those are words being used to describe Ontario’s new Housing Supply Action Plan by the people who fought for years to quash the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

The legislation, announced Thursday by Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark, is being billed as “More Homes, More Choice” and includes sweeping changes to land-use planning with promises to cut red tape, build more housing and increase the number of affordable homes.

Part of the proposal includes reverting back to older rules for development disputes contained in the OMB, killed two years ago under the Liberal government and replaced with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).

The LPAT was supposed to give greater consideration to the planning decisions of local communities.

Aurora Mayor Tom Mrakas was chair of the OMB Reform Working Group and Planning Committee, a group of 17 elected officials from municipalities across the province fighting to kill the OMB. Now he is reconvening that committee, convinced the PC government has made a big mistake.

“The ability to manage growth in our communities has just taken a huge step backwards and it is unacceptable,” he said.

“Once again, an unelected, unaccountable body will get to decide what’s best for our community when it comes to growth and development. Should the proposed legislation pass as is, municipalities will again be relegated to the sidelines when it comes to land-use planning decisions for their own communities.”

Richmond Hill Councillor Karen Cilevitz, another member of the OMB Reform group, lambasted the decision on Facebook.

“What an appalling move by the provincial government -- another undemocratic, unilateral, nonconsultative process undertaken by the Ford government. Everything we did to reform the OMB and bring greater land-use planning controls to the municipalities and into the hands of the elected officials ... gone. Gone.”

Susan Lloyd Swail, senior manager, Livable Communities with the Environmental Defence Fund, was also critical.

“Essentially, it appears designed to make it easier for developers to build more housing,” she said.

Reviving OMB rules, putting decisions back in the hands of a tribunal that has not been elected to decide land use in a municipality, is “undemocratic,” she said.

Making matters worse, she said, the new strategy disallows third-party appeals.

“Basically this means citizens will not be able to speak up to protect the places they love.”

Swail said she is concerned the new legislation could expand settlement boundaries, reduce farmland and put pressure on the Greenbelt.

Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan is intended to create more affordable housing by making it faster and simpler for developers to build a variety of housing types and for homeowners to build secondary suites such as basement apartments, Clark said.

He didn’t say how many new homes the government wants to see built.

While Claire Malcolmson, executive director of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, said the plan lacks details, she said she can see positives and negatives.

She applauds the government’s push to create more rental secondary suites, which creates new housing without adding to urban sprawl.

However, it appears, at the same time, the government is relaxing density requirements for new housing, she said.

“It creates more urban sprawl. The problem with sprawl is it gobbles up farmland and forest and we need those, we need food and we really need forests and wetlands to help clean the water that runs off the ground before it hits Lake Simcoe,” Malcolmson said.

“It’s really important to me and the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition that we have plans to protect our water and reducing sprawl is one of the ways that we can help protect our water.”

The government is committed to helping people struggling to find affordable housing that fits their family budget, Vaughan-Woodbridge MPP Michael Tibollo said.

In tackling the province’s “housing crisis,” the government will encourage the development industry to address challenges like affordability, size of rental units and housing type, he said.

“Finding a home is a challenge for many in Vaughan-Woodbridge because the building process takes too long and costs too much,” Tibollo said in a statement.

“Our plan will make it easier to build the right type of homes in the right places, giving people more flexibility and helping them find a home they can afford.”

The plan encourages developers to build a mix of housing types, such as family-sized condos, starter townhouses and mid-rise rental units and sets the stage to convert old, vacant buildings into new homes and expand existing neighbourhoods, while protecting their character, Tibollo said.

He blamed the previous government for a housing development system mired in red tape and fees that could add years of paperwork and thousands of dollars to the cost of a home.

The new measures will also protect the agricultural sector and the environment, Tibollo insisted.

“We will fix the housing crisis without touching the Greenbelt. We will preserve it and all its beauty,” he said.

The Ontario Home Builders’ Association is calling the government’s plan “visionary.”

It removes red tape and streamlines the approval process, which supports the creation of complete communities where people can live, work and play, while encouraging transit-oriented development and community planning without taking a one-size-fits-all approach, CEO Joe Vaccaro said.

“A healthy housing system exists when a city or region has the right mix of housing choice and supply,” he said in a statement.

The plan also makes it easier for families who want to build secondary suites in their homes, association executive board member Jamie Adam said.​

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