Legislative action by Premier Doug Ford and his Queen’s Park government has left Guelph’s representative in the provincial legislature worried about what it means for Ontario’s future.
“The prime minister seems drunk on power, thinking that because he has such a large majority of seats in the legislature, he can do whatever he wants,” Mike Schreiner told the Mercury Tribune.
The provincial Green Party leader cited several legislative decisions the Ford government has made in recent weeks, including: using a since-repealed clause to impose a contract on educators; allowing the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa to adopt certain by-laws with the support of only one-third of their respective councils; and the decision to open up part of the Greenbelt to development, contrary to a promise made during the Prime Minister’s first term.
“I can’t tell you how many times in the Legislature and in conferences he has explicitly promised to protect the green belt,” said Guelph, a member of the provincial parliament.
“The fact that he is breaking his promises, attacking local democracy and chasing people’s charter rights shows, in my view, a complete disregard for democratic institutions.”
Another piece of legislation Schreiner has major concerns with is Bill 23, the Homes Built Faster Act. The proposed legislation, which was introduced on October 25, the day after local government elections, will affect many aspects of housing development.
“I don’t believe that tearing down environmental protections, attacking local democracy, paving over farmland, wetlands and nature, offloading costs to property tax payers, forcing people to make long and expensive commutes will not solve the housing crisis,” he said.
On Nov. 22, Guelph City Council unanimously voiced its opposition to the bill, citing concerns about the financial and environmental impact it could have on the city and, as city staff noted, many of its housing issues are not addressed. ostensibly the purpose was to address.
“Staff’s assessment is that Bill 23 focuses too much on blanket fee reductions that would apply to market-rate developments without any guarantee that those savings would be passed on to renters and homebuyers,” said Jayne Holmes, the city’s deputy director of infrastructure, development and administration. company services, the council said on Tuesday.
“It remains unclear how offloading the costs of growth onto our residents will increase their ability to rent or buy housing.”
For his part, Schreiner said he would table two private member’s bills, which he said were “compared to what the government is currently proposing.”
The first would end zoning, restrictions that allow only single-family homes in some neighborhoods. Schreiner’s proposal would allow developments of up to four units on the lot. The second zone would pre-zone neighborhoods along major roads and transit corridors to allow for residential developments six to 11 stories tall, the size of which would likely depend on the size of the municipality.
“These are just two quick and easy solutions that will allow us to significantly increase supply without attacking local democracy, opening up green belt for development, destroying farmland that feeds us, nature that protects us from flooding,” he said. .
“It would lead to a more affordable lifestyle, without putting pressure on the property tax base as proposed by the current government.”
Looking at Bill 23 and other recent provincial legislation, Schreiner noted that “the only thing stopping (Ford) from storming our democracy is people pushing back.”
“The prime minister has backed away from bad policies in the past when there have been enough people, power (and) pressure to push him to do it,” he said.
“This movement is growing, but the challenge we face is that they’re breaking the law so quickly that it makes the challenge more difficult than some of the efforts in the past … so I would say to people, be loud, be vocal.”