The Greenbelt U-turn and the continuing impact of Bill 23 (Ontario) “The More Homes Built Faster Act”.

In an astonishing U-turn following the widespread and collective protests of environmental activists, local communities and business; the Ontario Government reversed the removal of 7,400 acres from the two-million-acre protected swath of land known as the Greenbelt. This decision was announced on September 21, 2023. The reversal was also brought about by a $8.28-billion scandal involving property developer Greenbelt land purchases and how partial the Government of Ontario was in this undertaking. We will now await further updates on this matter as the truth emerges through the investigation process. In an age of heightened awareness of Climate Change and the need to protect and conserve the natural environment; collective communal action has won through what appears to be some incompetent Government of Ontario planning.

As we know, the Greenbelt decision was taken under the umbrella of Bill 23. In November of 2022, the Government of Ontario passed Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, to support the province’s goal to add 1.5 million new homes in Ontario by 2031. Municipalities in Ontario have made several changes as a result of the Government of Ontario’s rollout of Bill 23, which is a long-term strategy to increase housing stock and provide sustainable housing choices. The Bill makes extensive changes to several Acts and regulations including the Planning Act, Development Charges Act, Municipal Act, and others.

A major change can be observed in “Additional Dwelling Units” according to Bill 23 legislation. Bill 23, amends the Planning Act to permit landowners to add two additional residential units “as of right” on properties containing a single detached dwelling, semi-detached dwelling or a townhouse without requiring a zoning by-law amendment. The three units can be within the existing residential structure or could take the form of a residence with an in-law, basement suite, and laneway or garden homes. The zoning by-law regulations respecting matters such as height, setback and coverage remain and continue to apply.

A building permit is required for any additional dwelling unit. Before applying, applicants must first consult with the Municipality to ensure:

  • What is being proposed is permitted.
  • That servicing is available and can be supported.
  • That supporting plans and reports are obtained by the applicant; relating to applicable zone provisions (setbacks, coverage, height etc.) can be satisfied and parking for each unit can be provided on-site.

Next Steps:

Durham Region is in the process of reviewing specific impacts as a result of Bill 23. Municipalities will continue to review the legislation and make any changes required to programs, resources and operations, including the calculations of parkland and development charges, and future impacts on infrastructure and service delivery.

Bill 23 has the potential to generate additional and much needed volume in Ontario’s housing stock. The challenge is going to be to deliver this in an environmentally friendly, competent and sustainable manner in partnership with all levels of government and business. We believe more information will flow on this issue as progress is made.

– Ernest Ogunleye, Whitby Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Committee – Outward Bound Canada