Cambridge joins list of municipalities pushing back on Bill 23
The council voted in favor of a motion asking the province to reconsider the More Homes Built Faster Act
The city of Cambridge hasn’t had a chance to calculate the full impact of the province’s More Homes Built Faster Act on its 10-year capital forecast, but it has joined the chorus of cities opposing the legislation.
During a special council meeting Thursday, Coun. Sheri Roberts filed a motion urging the province to reconsider the law and its negative impacts on environmental protection, heritage preservation, public participation and farmland loss, not to mention the “significant and long-standing ones.” Effects” on municipal budgets.
Bill 23 prevents municipalities from charging development fees and other fees to incentivize the development of more affordable housing. However, municipalities rely on these development fees to build new infrastructure for growth.
At an early evening Budget and Audit Committee meeting, Sheryl Ayres, the city’s chief financial officer, said Bill 23 already had a projected $1.5 million impact on the 2023 budget due to missed development costs and other fees.
In addition to these concerns, Coun. Roberts expresses the city’s belief that Bill 23 will miss its goal of creating more affordable housing.
Because Bill 23 defines affordable housing as “80 percent of market prices,” which “still remains largely unaffordable for many,” the city is instead asking the province to define affordability based on income.
The motion also identifies limitations within the bill related to zoning as a barrier to the creation of more affordable housing.
Inclusive zoning is a tool that municipalities can use and that requires developers to include a defined number of affordable units in each housing project.
“By limiting it to 5 percent of homes within a development,” Bill 23 restricts affordable housing options, the motion said
The law also limits the longevity of zoning inclusion requirements to 25 years.
The council is asking the province to raise the 5 percent limit for zoning and extend the time frame to over 25 years.
count. Roberts submitted her motion notice with the expectation that she would return for discussion at the council and vote at a special council meeting scheduled for Jan. 31.
But as a Coun. Donna Reid indicated that there is an urgent need to raise concerns with the province.
Reid asked to refrain from notifying the application and to deal with the vote immediately because, as confirmed by Assistant City Manager Hardy Bromberg, the province’s call for feedback on Bill 23 ends later this month, making Jan. 31 is too late in the process.
City manager David Calder said he believes contributions from local authorities will be accepted until the legislature returns to Queen’s Park in February, but recommended the application be considered now.
The council voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.