I released a Statement from the Mayor today regarding factual inaccuracies in Burlington MPP Jane McKenna’s Bill 108 response. Please see it below:
Burlington, Ont. — July 8, 2019 — Democracy is the foundation of our country, and accurate information is a key pillar of it.
It’s therefore essential that our residents and local elected representatives have the facts when commenting on community matters and advocating to Queen’s Park on our behalf.
To that end, I’m writing to correct factual inaccuracies in an advertorial by Burlington Member of Provincial Parliament Jane McKenna, titled “Setting the Record Straight on Bill 108,” published in the Burlington Post newspaper on June 20 — and a slightly different version of the article posted on the local group WeLoveBurlington Facebook page (June 17) and to the MPP’s website (June 19).
I have also requested a meeting with MPP McKenna and Oakville North-Burlington MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos to ensure they both have accurate information, to best represent our interests at Queen’s Park as our elected representatives.
Here are the facts:
Bill 108 makes changes to 13 pieces of legislation. It was introduced in May and received Royal Assent in June — and much of the concerns raised by mayors and their residents across the province were ignored. The Region of Halton and the City of Burlington both passed resolutions detailing the problems with Bill 108 in advance of passage. You can read those here: http://bit.ly/COBResolutionBill108 and http://bit.ly/HaltonRegionResolutionBill108. Many other municipalities have also passed resolutions expressing their concerns with the legislation.
Two key changes are in the areas of development charges and the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).
Development charges are intended to ensure growth pays for growth. It doesn’t now — paying roughly 80% of the costs of growth, while taxpayers pick up the remaining 20%, for everything from community centres to parks and transit. The changes in Bill 108 will make that worse as certain items we used to be able to collect for have been removed from the development charges and are now included in a new “community benefits” formula that is to be determined. However, that new formula has a “cap.”
If the actual costs of growth are higher, taxpayers will again have to pay the difference.
There are certainly challenges with the current development charges system and related to that is the determination of Section 37 benefits, which are cash or in-kind payments for things such as park amenities or parking — these are negotiated for extra height and density.
As noted in the MPP’s article, I have long been a critic of Section 37 benefits. However, Bill 108 does nothing to make this system better and for the reasons I noted above, it will, in fact, make it less likely that growth will end up paying for growth.
You, the taxpayer, will get the bill. Further, there is no guarantee that the savings to developers from reduced contributions to the costs of growth will, in fact, be passed on to homebuyers.
The second change is to LPAT. The previous provincial government worked extensively with the development industry, municipal governments and citizens to reform the powers of the former Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to overrule local planning decisions and speed up the process of approvals so that housing could get to market faster and cheaper.
Bill 108 essentially reverts the LPAT back to the older OMB rules where, once again, there will be extensive hearings with lawyers and witnesses that start from the beginning of the planning process and redo all the planning analyses completed by municipal governments and their trained and knowledgeable staff.
This will add more time and more costs to the delivery of housing — the exact opposite of the stated intent of Bill 108.
It is clear that as long as the tribunal exists (in whatever form), not only will housing be more expensive and slower to market, but democratic decisions will be overruled by an unelected body. Ontario is the only province in Canada with such a tribunal — and communities across the country are successfully being built without one.
It is time to eliminate the LPAT entirely, and I will be introducing a motion to Halton Regional Council on July 10 to that end. Please see a copy of that motion here: http://bit.ly/RegionLPATMotion.
Finally, some facts regarding Burlington’s Official Plan (OP). As required by legislation, the City’s OP is regularly updated, including an extensive update in 2008 to incorporate the intensification measures proposed by the Province in its Places to Grow Act.
Burlington was allocated a population of 185,000 by 2031. As of the 2016 census, we were at 183,000. With known and approved developments underway and recently completed, we have already reached our population target — 12 years early.
Further, there are specific density targets that are required in certain areas of the city. Downtown Burlington is designated as an Urban Growth Centre, with a density of 200 people or jobs per hectare by 2031.
According to multiple analyses by staff, we are well on track to meeting and surpassing that density. The most recent was included in the staff report for the 421 Brant Street development (see pages 23-27 of the report via the link provided: http://bit.ly/421BrantStaffReport), which calculates the current density at 174 people or jobs. It also states that we are well-positioned to meet or exceed the density following the existing Official Plan provisions.
I have gone into more depth and details about how the changes Bill 108 will affect Burlington residents in previous posts on my website, mariannemeedward.ca.
It is critical for residents to have accurate information, and especially for our local representatives, to have the facts of Burlington’s situation and fully understand our concerns so they can best represent our interests to the Premier and Cabinet. We will be scheduling meetings to ensure that correct information is circulated to the public and will be circulating this information publicly, as well as to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Premier.