The High Cost of Bill 108

Municipalities objecting to bill 108

By: Laura Steiner

It feels like at least 50% of the legislation passed by the Ford Government in its first year affects municipalities.  Council size in Toronto that’s still in the courts; the ongoing review of Regional government structures.  The postponed cuts affecting flood management, public library services, and public health.  And now Bill 108: the More Homes, More Choice Act.  This legislation touches on 15 other acts, and processes.

This is going to test Council. Milton has long been accustomed to growth.  Ever since the first big pipe came around the year 2000, and the Mattamy developments began around Trudeau Drive, and Derry Area it’s been a fact of life.  For the most part it’s been a welcome one; we got transit back we attracted new shops, cafes, and employers.  A movie theater popped back up along Maple- for years we were without one.

Growth hasn’t been without its pains.  The endless quest for increasing Go Service which although improved, never exactly meets our needs.  The fight to get more schools built, and to continue improving our infrastructure. Milton residents have realized that it is a fact of life, but one the town wants more control over.  For the last few years council has been musing about what would happen if they slowed growth to more manageable levels in order to finance the infrastructure.  A few times the answer has come back as nothing.

Bill 108 would change that.  The Land Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) was designed to give the municipalities more control.  A final decision would rest with the Council, and a developer could appeal to the tribunal. The More Homes, More Choice Act reinstates the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). It does away with a two-step appeal process in favour of a “du novo” hearing which would be conducted as if no initial decision had been made.

The 2019 budget was a wrestling match.  Councillors tried to keep the rate low, but in the end there was nowhere left to cut.  According to the 2019 budget, Milton gets 37.4% ($20.6 million) of its funding for capital projects from Development Charges (DC)’s.  The charges cover hard services such as transit, and fire protection and soft services such as libraries and playgrounds. Bill 108 proposes the removal of soft services, forcing the municipalities to face a shortfall.  It’s hard to imagine this won’t affect the tax base, and user fees.

We all get it.  The Liberals left a mess to clean up, and cuts will have to be made.  But are these the places to do it? Think about it.  Look at the impact.  Check the cost for the taxpayers’ bottom line.  Bill 108 might carry too high of a cost.