Skip to content

Bill 23 demands the town do more, faster, but with less revenue

Mayor says he believes Doug Ford can be trusted to cover costs of legislation

The province’s latest housing initiatives promise to be costly and disruptive to Oakville’s vision for its future.

What isn’t clear is just how costly and disruptive.

An extensive staff report on Bill 23, the province’s More Homes Built Faster Act, was presented to town councillors at their planning and development council meeting this week.

It outlined concerns with the sweeping financial and planning changes created by the now-approved provincial legislation.

Staff say the town will lose revenue to build infrastructure and parks, be forced to take on new responsibilities, and be directed to double or triple the rate of approving new development.

“Bill 23 has a significant and direct impact on the town’s ability to create and fund complete communities,” says the report.

“The thrust of the changes can be summarized as the province requiring municipalities to do more, do it faster, but with less revenue.”

But many of the key details, definitions and regulations underlying the legislation remain unknown, making it difficult to assess the full impact.

It’s also not clear what will come of recent provincial promises of funding to cover municipal financial losses under the legislation.

Steve Clark, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing recently wrote to Ontario's Big City Mayors that the province is “committing to ensuring municipalities are kept whole for any impact to their ability to fund housing enabling infrastructure because of Bill 23.”

Mayor Rob Burton said he believes Ontario Premier Doug Ford can be trusted and when he says something, he means it.

“I take great comfort from the letter that the Premier wrote, promising that he would keep us whole,” he said. “I note that throughout COVID, the province kept us whole.”

But several town councillors noted that their concerns with Bill 23 go beyond town revenues.

“It’s not just financial, it’s the bigger issues in terms of our greenbelt, our public engagement, our heritage, our environment, all the various aspects,” said Ward 2 councillor Cathy Duddeck, who urged staff to “drill down” into these topics when collecting information to bring back to council.

Councillors Allan Elgar and Scott Xie expressed concern about the impact of the changes on North Oakville’s natural heritage system, which links and protects natural lands and features.

“Dramatic change” to how housing is built

Bill 23, which became law on Nov. 28, is central to the province’s ambitious plan to build 1.5 million homes over the next decade.

It’s a goal that more than doubles the number of homes ever built in any 10-year period in Ontario and will demand a “dramatic change” in how housing is delivered, said Oakville CAO Jane Clohecy.

While lauded by the province’s building industry, the legislation has attracted criticism from conservation authorities, environmental groups, municipal associations, residents’ organizations and many members of the public.

But the response from Oakville town councillors was rather muted.

Council opted to simply send along staff’s questions and comments to the province and direct staff to return to them with more information when it is available.

While many key details remain unknown, town staff identified some key ways Bill 23 will impact Oakville.


Development charge fees, which help pay for growth-related infrastructure like roads, transit, recreation centres and fire stations, face various cuts, freezes and delays. Depending on final details, the town could lose between 12 and 37 per cent of its development charge revenue ($79 million to $237 million) over the next 10 years.

Changes to funding for parkland could cost the town between 60 and 70 per cent ($65-$75 million) of the $109 million it expected to collect to pay for parkland in planned high density strategic growth areas. This will make it “extraordinarily challenging” for the town to realize its parkland goals, says the staff report.


Managing things like stormwater runoff and tree protection on rebuilds and small developments are a worry, given that new rules eliminate the town’s ability to control site plan details on developments with fewer than 10 units. “That’s about flooding and that’s about heat islands and that’s about safe, healthy, complete communities and all of these changes add up over the space of a municipality, perhaps to have broader impacts,” planning manager Kirk Biggar told councillors.

Three units will now be allowed on all residential lots. They may be extra units in a house, such as a basement apartment, or additional units in a building like a garage or laneway house. Staff is concerned that the province hasn’t provided direction on whether permissions for those units supercede local zoning regulations.

“If not, then conceivably, an ancillary building could be constructed anywhere on a residential property with no limitation on size, scale, height, proximity to side and rear lot lines, and no regard to the impacts on the increase of impermeable surface and associated stormwater runoff,” notes the staff report.

It adds that such unplanned growth could lead to insufficient infrastructure, services and facilities within neighbourhoods.


Changes to heritage designation rules “appear to create high-risk conditions for the loss of cultural heritage resources,” town staff say.

The most significant change is to the heritage register, an official list of properties identified by the town as having cultural heritage value, even if they aren’t officially designated. 

New rules impose a two-year limit for properties to remain on that register. If not designated in that time, they are removed and lose heritage protection.

“Knowing how Oakville and heritage have a long history together, this is a very important consideration for the town and its council. This heritage is irreplaceable, so that’s a major concern,” said Biggar.


Bill 23 will make the town responsible for various planning tasks previously managed by Halton Region. Staff with different areas of technical expertise, in areas like stormwater management, endangered species, habitat issues, natural hazards and floodplains, will need to be hired.