On October 25th, Doug Ford and the Ontario Government tabled Bill 23, legislation meant to address the housing crisis. Titled the More Homes Built Faster Act, the bill purports to cut through layers of ‘red tape’ that have slowed down the construction of new homes in the province, with a focus on streamlining the approvals process and reducing development fees. Today, Bill 23 received Royal Assent, the final approval in bringing legislation into force.
As the news cycle of the last month has shown, the bill has been received with open arms by some, but not all. The extent of the criticism has reached a new high though after a contingent of industry leading design firms came together to pen an open letter to the Government with a clear message: Bill 23 needs to go back to the drawing board.
The letter is posted publicly on the website of KPMB Architects, and features signatures from
- Adamson Associates Architects
- Diamond Schmitt Architects
- ERA Architects
- Greenberg Consultants
- Janet Rosenberg & Studio
- KPMB Architects
- LGA Architectural Partners
- MJMA Architecture & Design
- Moriyama & Teshima Architects
- PMA Landscape Architects Ltd.
- PUBLIC WORK
- The Planning Partnership
— a total of 17 signees. The group wastes little time making their main argument, asserting that the activation of Bill 23 will only exacerbate the housing issues we are already facing in this Province while simultaneously harming the already fragile standards for climate change, mitigation, and heritage conservation.
“We firmly believe that this legislation will not achieve its stated intent.
Instead, it will inhibit the construction of affordable housing in our province; dismantle regional planning and urban design considerations; undermine heritage protection, environmental protection, and climate change mitigation; and limit public participation in how we build our communities.”
With Bill 23 receiving Royal Assent, the dire nature of the situation has been brought to centre stage in what feels like a battle against Goliath. The approval for development on 7,400 acres of land in Ontario’s Greenbelt is one of the most inflammatory areas of the legislation, but equally pressing are the threats to inclusionary zoning and design once the bill is put into effect.
The main concern is that individuals are being given the power to bypass systems that have been established over decades to ensure that development must answer to a set of principles. These principles exist to guide Ontario towards development that is mindful of both social and environmental sustainability, and the letter argues that removing them from the planning process in an effort to speed things up is not an effective way to solve our problems.
As far as the industry leaders of this City are concerned, this legislature has some significant structural flaws that would destabilize the landscape of development, ultimately making the market less accessible for low-to-mid income residents.
The full letter and the list of signees can be found here.
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