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Minto council, staff voice skepticism, confusion over Bill 23 and 109

Minto council received a report of information on Bill 23 and Bill 109 at council meeting
Bill 23 aims to facilitate the erection of 1.5 million homes in the next 10 years. File Photo.

MINTO — Staff and council grappled with the confusion caused by the Bill 23 and Bill 109 at the Minto council meeting on Tuesday.

Bill 23 makes changes to the Development Charges Act, partly by having development charge exemptions for affordable and attainable housing.

But that change and exemption is not completely clear, because, "municipalities are waiting on the province to define what 'affordable' is, how agreements for affordable units will work, including what it means for subsequent sales, and what the prescribed criterion for attainable housing is," stated, Minto planning coordinator Ashley Sawyer's report.

Sawyer contended that there is ambition behind the changes sought through Bill 23 and Bill 109.

“It is a piece of legislation that has some pretty intense goals,” Sawyer said.

The two bills are meant to solve Ontario’s housing crisis. But Sawyer is skeptical that will happen though this piece of legislation alone. 

“Do we think it is going to solve the affordable housing crisis? No. There is a lot of other facets that play into that,” Sawyer said.

But Sawyer contends that Bills 23 and 109 might be a step towards resolving the housing problem. 

“But when you look at it on the surface level, it’s a start,” Sawyer said.

Those attending the meeting discussed the confusion caused by the bills.

“An affordable house is a house that’s marketed at 80 per cent of the local value. What is that?” said Terry Kuipers, director of building and planning services with Minto.

Kuipers is left guessing what affordable means here.  

“Is it just a house that’s built to minimum code? That you can price it lower because you put less into it?” Kuipers said.

So the goals of the two bills are ambitious but how they’ll be implemented is not obvious.

“Like that is the tricky part, we don’t know what some of these lofty goals actually mean at this point,” Kuipers said.

Sawyer explained that an affordable house may be a poorly chosen word. What is classified as affordable may be not at all affordable. 

“If the house is 80 per cent, so does that make a $1 million home, that’s say $800,000 affordable?” Sawyer said.

Deputy mayor Jean Anderson expressed the need for a clear understanding of what affordable means in this context.

“Attainable ... affordable, define that?” Anderson said.

She made note that affordable housing is currently hard to find. 

“Like according to that marketing report we had at economic development last year, people working at TG Minto, two of them can afford a $300,000 home. That’s not attainable because there aren’t any,” Anderson said.

Council voted to receive the report on Bill 23 and Bill 109 for information.

Jesse Gault is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.