Guelph council asks province to put brakes on proposed housing legislation

City Council in Guelph, Ont., is not convinced that the province’s proposed legislation aimed at increasing housing supply will do the trick.

Councillors unanimously passed a series of motions Tuesday asking the government to reconsider the More Homes for Everyone Act and the Mores Homes Built Faster Act.

The two bills are meant to construct up to 1.5 million housing units in Ontario within the next 10 years – 18,000 would be built in Guelph.

But Mayor Cam Guthrie, who is a proponent of more housing especially affordable housing, believes the bills will likely do the opposite.

“It will probably bring up more problems, more costs, all borne on the local existing taxpayers,” said Guthrie. “As the mayor, I am going to be standing up against that all day long.”

Council believes municipalities like Guelph will end up paying for the costs being proposed in the legislation. Coun. Cathy Downer compares this to the downloading of the cost of programs by the Mike Harris government in the 1990s.

“It’s just a repeat of that,” said Downer. “I just have to express how disappointing and outraged I am about this.”

Staff made presentations to council on the impact of the proposed legislation. More than a dozen people also spoke as a delegation at the meeting including Shakiba Shayani from the Guelph Chamber of Commerce. All were worried about how the legislation would impact things like the environment and affordability.

Coun. Phil Allt suggested the legislation was flawed for several reasons. “Not addressing water depletion, clearly identifying tax increases as something that will be the norm, social housing not being truly addressed, and recreational and cultural facilities being imperiled. I think I’m going to have to say to the province, not a good planning exercise is it?”

Council has also directed staff to prepare, though, in the event the legislation is passed as is. That includes making changes to the development application fee structure and adding more staff.

Guthrie said the solution to the housing crisis is to have the province work together with municipalities.

“I think they are going down the wrong path,” said Guthrie. “That will not increase housing, will not help with affordability, and will just raise taxes.”

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