Waterloo Mayor concerned about impact of Bill 23 on residents

Posted On Wednesday December 14, 2022

City of Waterloo Mayor Dorothy McCabe is concerned about the impact the province’s Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, will have on our community, as explained in detail in this open letter to the community.

Parks. Recreation centres. Libraries. Fire stations. Sanitary pumping stations. Sewer and water mains. Storm water facilities to prevent flooding. Trails, bike lanes and roads. Planning, design and development.

These are some of the facilities and infrastructure that the City of Waterloo builds primarily with development charges (DCs). DCs are fees that are collected from the developers who build new housing and employment facilities. These fees are necessary in order to pay for growth related infrastructure, capital works and services that future residents, employers and employees need. Future is a key word.

These critical facilities and infrastructure are part of what makes our city enjoyable and a place where people want to live, work and play.

The City of Waterloo supports the concept that ‘growth should pay for growth’.

However, the provincial government’s recent legislation, Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022, among other issues, removes the City of Waterloo and all municipalities’ ability to charge developers some of these fees. Bill 23 passes the financial burden of building growth related infrastructure directly to current residents and directly to local property tax bills.

Unless significant changes are made to the province’s new legislation, the city’s ability to build the facilities noted above will be severely constrained.

Ironically, Bill 23 will not actually build more housing quicker. It will have the opposite effect. Without the DC funding to install water and sewer mains and transportation networks, no new homes will be able to be built.

The financial impacts of Bill 23 are real. The City of Waterloo will lose approximately $23 to $31 million in DCs over the next five years. That’s a 35 per cent reduction in funds the city would normally receive from the development industry. In addition, we will see an increase of $2 to $3 million per year in operating costs. Combined, these financial losses are equivalent to a 7-10 per cent tax increase.

This means either significant service reductions or considerable increases to municipal taxes and utility rates to make up the significant funding shortfalls created by Bill 23. City Council and staff are very concerned about the impact Bill 23 will have on the affordability of life for existing residents, many who are already stressed by increased cost of living and high inflation.

Additionally, the notion that municipalities are sitting on millions of dollars of unspent or unallocated reserve funds is simply untrue. The reality is, as the city’s budget presentation of December 12 showed, our reserves are quite low. The DCs we receive are invested back into the community to pay for growth.

However, the problems with Bill 23 go beyond these financial challenges.

Bill 23 also fails to incent or require developers to pass on any savings they achieve to home purchasers or renters. Neither does it place any deadlines or expectations on developers to build new affordable or attainable housing.

The City of Waterloo is doing our part. Today, there are approximately 22,000 housing units in the pipeline at various stages of the design, review and construction process. We have the land we need to build more housing.

In addition, Bill 23 and other recent legislation also negatively impacts land use planning, heritage conservation, public consultation, and environmental protections. We are very concerned about the province’s intention to build on the Greenbelt and the new limits Bill 23 places on the roles of Conservation Authorities.

At a time when we are all dealing with a climate emergency, eroding the Greenbelt and the reducing the role of the Grand River Conservation Authority in urban and rural planning is an unnecessary and troubling idea. Like the Greenbelt, our region is home to important rural lands and environmental areas protected by the countryside line. This promotes intensification within urban areas versus expensive outward sprawl. Legislation that threatens prime agricultural lands and significant natural areas is problematic. Indeed, it is unnecessary. Waterloo has the land it needs within its borders to build the housing units needed.

The City of Waterloo and the Province of Ontario do agree on a few important points.

We agree that more housing of all types for people of all ages, abilities and income levels is needed. This means affordable and supportive housing and housing options - triplexes, duplexes, low, mid and high rises - that are attainable for more people.  

We also agree that some changes to the planning process are needed.

We agree that continuing to work closely with developers and home builders - who contribute greatly to our community – is part of the solution.

However, as written, Bill 23 is not the answer and it will only hurt residents. We know you can’t afford Bill 23 nor should you be expected to pay for future development. Bill 23 needs to be amended.

Waterloo Council and staff are working hard every day to build a great city and to accommodate the growth that already exists and that will continue to come. City of Waterloo Council has approved a 10-point adaption plan to address Bill 23, which will be a major challenge given the financial and resource challenges this Bill creates.

We ask the province to work collaboratively with us so we can build the 22,000 housing units already in the pipeline – and allow us to continue to build a city current and future residents can enjoy.


Mayor Dorothy McCabe
City of Waterloo


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