Skip to content

Housing Czar Clark delivers edict on development height allowances

Will Oakville's council bend to the province's dictum or listen to the constituents who elected them and fight?
Justin Main on Unsplash
Justin Main on Unsplash

Oakville's mayor has gone from trying to control growth (his long-time platform and what the voters want) to embracing it. Is he wrong? The Conservative provincial government won an overwhelming majority and has another three years to govern. Can town council fight the Conservatives' land development decisions? 

Premier Doug Ford, his Ministers and MPPs appear to care very little about the voters' desire to shape how the community accommodates growth in Oakville or any other jurisdiction.

If you ever thought Oakville's voters controlled or influenced land development through their elected mayor and council, a recent letter from Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark to Peel's regional council should remove any doubt.

Was Mayor Rob Burton trying to explain his new position or providing ammunition for residents who oppose undirected growth when his office released Clark's letter?

Letter to Peel Council | Town of Oakville
Letter to Peel Council | Town of Oakville

The Minister emphasizes that "the discretion of lower-tier municipalities to set maximum heights within Major Transit Areas" has been removed in the name of transit-supportive housing and increased housing supply.  

While the letter is addressed to Peel regarding Mississauga, it drives home the point that municipalities operate under the rules of the province. Clearly, this is relevant to the nine residential skyscrapers proposed for properties in the vicinity of the Oakville GO station

We often read in social media or letters to the editor that the town wants growth and high-rises "for the tax revenue," with some implying that our municipal politicians are in the pockets of developers. Most residents are unclear on where they make their argument to influence development. This confusion about who is really in charge has clearly served someone's interests, as residents spend their energies and resources attacking the wrong targets. 

Perhaps we should be happy that the Wizard is coming out from behind the curtain, and the province is making it very clear that it is calling the tune.

Last we heard, no one at town council was having a stag and doe with developers present, and we've often seen our mayor and councillors vote against the interests of developers, even those who have made donations to their campaigns. Perhaps those who suspect undue influence will now turn their attention to the provincial government.

Opposition politicians are working on getting to the bottom of whether such relationships influence planning decisions, including the recent removal of lands from the Greenbelt.

We should all be vigilant. The one voter, one taxpayer we often hear our politicians flattering must surely be wondering how well our four levels of government really serve his or her interests.