GTA region warns Bill 23 may hike property taxes
Durham is the latest region to warn residents that property taxes may go up because of Ontario’s housing Bill 23.
“We estimate the Region will have about $281 million less in revenue over five years,” said Durham Regional Council Chair and CEO John Henry.
“This means that existing property taxpayers and ratepayers of Durham Region—as with most other municipalities in Ontario—will now be asked to fund future infrastructure to support new homes in our community,” he added in a statement.
“Or, as an alternative, the Region may have to reduce service levels.”
The More Homes Built Faster Act aims to build 1.5 million homes in Ontario over the next 10 years. Freezing development charges and government fees on some new builds are among the provisions included.
Mayors from big cities like Toronto to rural towns have opposed the freeze, saying municipalities rely on the revenue to build the needed infrastructure to accommodate growth.
Henry says there has been an immediate impact in Durham: money collected from development charges is dropped by 20 per cent already, he says.
This means the region, and the municipalities that make up Durham, will have tough choices on their hands, and property taxes may need to rise to make up the shortfall.
Another thorny issue with the bill is the development on Greenbelt land, including 4,500 acres from three areas around Durham.
“More land is not needed, in Durham Region, to meet the provincial housing target,” Henry said. “There is an eight to 10-year supply of housing already planned in our region.”
Opponents have been vocal since the bill was first unveiled in the fall.
Helen Brenner with Stop Sprawl Durham says developing areas of the Greenbelt—which is made up in part of farmland, forests, and conservation areas—is both fiscally and environmentally unethical, as well as unnecessarily adding to the suburban sprawl.
“We know that it’s not sustainable,” she told CTV News Toronto. “It’s not required—better to live within our existing urban boundaries.”
The Ontario government maintains the course the province is on is the right one.
“Ontario is in a housing supply crisis, and Ontarians expect us to act,” Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark said on Monday.
The Premier says Bill 23 will address the housing shortage, and decisions had to be made.
"You can't keep saying 'not in my backyard, my neighbourhood doesn't want it, we don't want it,’” he said inside the Sheraton Hotel earlier this week, as protesters demonstrated outside.
“Where are we going to put these people?”
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