Friday, December 2, 2022

Please Pardon My Cliche

But there is only one taxpayer, something Ontario municipalities may need to be reminded of.


I say this because I am discerning a possible divide-and-conquer ploy at work by the Doug Ford government. As I have posted extensively over the past several days, that government is doing its damndest to enrich developers by obviously leaking information to them as to what lands would be removed from the Greenbelt. 

However, there is much more to their largesse, a largesse that will cost all of us dearly.

That involves the freezing, reduction and removal of the development charges they pay as they build new houses, that money used mainly to fund the infrastructure to service new surveys as well as build truly affordable abodes. This gift to well-connected developers is being justified with the risible lie that the crisis in affordable housing will be thus mitigated by another fiction, that homebuilders will pass on these savings to those purchasing a new home

It is a measure that will require that municipal taxpayers assume those costs. One estimate places those costs at $5.1 billion over nine years.

And this is where we come to the divide-and-conquer strategy. Because public outrage is growing, not over those costs but the noisome stench of corruption emanating from Bill 23, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steven Clark has extended an 'olive branch' to Ontario's capital, Toronto.

On Wednesday, Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark sent a letter to Tory saying the province would commission a third-party audit of Toronto’s finances to help determine the effect of the legislation, and is committed to ensuring the city is “made whole” if “there is any impact” on its “ability to fund housing-related infrastructure and services because of Bill 23.”

While I suspect the 'audit' will find that there is no need for provincial aid, others want to get in on the 'offer'. Mississauga's mayor, Bonnie Crosby, estimates the shortfall to her city at up to $885 million over 10 years with costs to taxpayers of $300 to $600–a year over the next decade, and that, of course, is on top of whatever other things are budgeted for, like libraries, community centres, etc.

Said Crombie,

... cities need to be compensated for the significant losses they’re set to accrue and said she would welcome an audit of Mississauga’s finances to show that the municipality only collects what it needs to function. 

“I would welcome the opportunity to correct the record and run the province through our numbers. We are fiscally responsible in Mississauga,” Crombie told reporters. 

“I would also welcome a similar commitment [that Toronto received] that Mississauga be compensated for any losses from Bill 23. 

Which brings me back to the beginning of the post. There is only one taxpayer, and while provincial funds would reduce the impact on local ratepayers, they would do nothing to address the inherent obscenity of wasting taxpayers' dollars to subsidize wealthy developers. And all of this ado could have been so easily avoided, given the absolutely unnecessary opening up of the Greenbelt.

The government equally insists that the betrayal of its promise not to develop the Greenbelt was forced on it by the province’s housing crisis. But that is contradicted by a report from the Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force, an expert government panel that concluded in February that “a shortage of land isn’t the cause of the problem.”

It is further troubling that, according to the government, the Greenbelt carve-outs will produce only 50,000 new homes. The Ford government’s overall goal is to build 1.5 million homes over 10 years; in other words, it can presumably build 1.45 million homes – well within an acceptable margin of error – without rewarding speculation in the Greenbelt. 

Doug Ford has long proclaimed that Ontario is open for business. What he failed to add was that in many instances, the business he is promoting is shady and reeks of corruption and disdain for the citizens of this province.


  1. Doug has said that he's sure that there's 'waste' in municipal government & he will find it. Probably means reduce services.

    1. And thus will begin a concerted campaign to discredit municipalities who complain about the costs of Bill 23, Al.