Skip to content

‘Staggering financial implications’: Housing plan will download growth costs to property taxpayers


The provincial government says it wants to build more homes, faster.

But the legislation it introduced on Oct. 25 will create delays and uncertainty while driving up property taxes.

That’s the conclusion of Halton regional planning staff, who have scrambled to evaluate the impact of sweeping changes proposed in Ontario’s Bill 23, More Homes, Built Faster Act.

The legislation promises changes to numerous laws, regulations and policies as the government seeks to build 1.5 million new homes in Ontario over the next 10 years.

Halton’s share of that goal is an additional 83,000 homes by 2031, an increase of about 65 per cent over its previous targets. Oakville is expected to build 33,000 extra units.

But the provincial push to streamline bureaucracy and cut fees is likely to backfire and slow housing growth, Halton staff warned in reports and presentations to regional councillors on Wednesday.

Of particular concern are plans to cut development charges – the fees municipalities collect to pay for needed new infrastructure like water systems and roads.

Without development charge revenue, the cost of building new infrastructure will have to be borne by property taxpayers, which would run counter to an attempt to make homes more affordable.

“The financial implications, which we’ve only really started to understand … are staggering for the region and other high-growth municipalities,” said Jane MacCaskill, Halton’s CAO.

She added that the proposed changes run “completely counter” to the principle of growth paying for growth.

While details are still sparse, early calculations suggest that the changes could cost Halton in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming decade.

“Without alternate funding sources, these costs would fall to the existing taxpayers,” says a staff report. “Given the potential significant impacts, it is likely delivery of infrastructure would be delayed.”

Loss of integrated planning

The other major concern is the province’s plan to eliminate region-wide land use planning in Halton.

The four municipalities within the region share numerous services, including police, garbage, water and wastewater. An overarching regional plan has helped allocate services and plan for demand.

Under Bill 23, the province plans to eliminate regional planning. That will make Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Halton Hills individually responsible for planning growth in their communities.

“This significant change to the planning system would introduce uncertainty, instability, and disruption at a time when coordination is essential to achieving the goal to facilitate new housing,” says the staff report. "The goal of seeing 1.5 million homes built over the next ten years is ambitious and challenging in its own right. Working to achieve this goal in the context of the significant, and in many respects unnecessary, disruption these changes will cause to the planning system will make it even more difficult."

Regional staff are talking to the province about their concerns, said MacCaskill.

“We believe the province may have absolutely underestimated the impacts of some of the changes and, maybe in their desire to meet a very lofty goal and make quick fixes, may have not anticipated all of the changes,” she said.

“I am – maybe unrealistically – optimistic that they may still be open to listening to the types of impacts that have been created here because they are very, very, very significant.”