Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday December 10, 2022
Bill 23: Doug Ford’s gift to Hamilton
This holiday season, let’s consider the gift that just keeps on giving — Bill 23. Not giving to everyone, mind you. But to those who do benefit, the Ford government’s law to build more and faster is a real gem.
Like the development industry overall, and specifically developers with plans and money to build more sprawl development on lands that used to be protected by being in the Greenbelt. They’re thrilled. Especially those who, coincidentally, purchased some of that land in the not-too-distant past, who will see the value of that land go sky-high as soon as the first developments are approved.
Isn’t that a stroke of good luck? They bought Greenbelt land, and it happened to be soon before the government announced it would make it available for development.
And even more coincidence — some of them donated a lot of money to the Progressive Conservative party of Doug Ford. What a crazy world.
You would almost think those developers knew something was coming. But that would mean that someone in the government told them, and Ford assures us that isn’t the case. So nothing to see here, the premier says everything’s just fine. Mind you, he’s the same premier who said not long ago that he wouldn’t authorize development on the Greenbelt, so perhaps his earnest assurances should be taken with a grain of salt.
And how about the people of the lovely town of Erin, not far from Guelph? To their surprise, they learned recently that 7,000 acres of their town and region are being added to the Greenbelt, part of the government’s pledge to replace more than what it is taking. Of course, most of the land in the area is agricultural and is being used for that purpose, and it’s unlikely it would ever give way to development in any event.
Erin folks now have Greenbelt protection they didn’t need in the first place.
In addition to the town of Erin, the province will also add into the Greenbelt 13 publicly owned lands in so-called Urban River Valleys across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Consider the words of Kevin Thomason of the Greenbelt West Coalition, who said to Torstar: “This is already protected land … this land is already owned by the government — the areas around creeks and rivers that face no development threat and had no possibility of ever being developed.”
Anyone see a trend here? Take prime agricultural land from areas like Niagara and the Duffins Rouge Agriculture Preserve, which have some of the best farming soil in the country, and replace them in the Greenbelt with lands that are not development candidates to begin with. Then call it an even swap. Clever, non?
New Hamilton city councillor Ted McMeekin, also a former provincial municipal affairs minister, today delivers a cogent and impactful summary of what is wrong with Bill 23. It’s recommended reading.
As is the story by Spec journalist Teviah Moro about the impact of the legislation on Hamilton’s tax base. Because Bill 23 removes or reduces development fees from much new construction, Hamilton will forego revenue of between $14 million and $25 million each year. That revenue would typically go to pay for infrastructure such as sewers, roads, bridges and services to support new housing.
Here again, developers certainly win by paying lower or no development charges. They get improved profitability, while Hamilton and its taxpayers get — well — Scrooged.
Fortunately, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark says municipalities hit hard by revenue losses could be “made whole,” assuming the province agrees with their business case. Mind you, he was talking about Toronto especially, and also about getting the federal government to use its Housing Accelerator Fund to compensate municipalities.
So, the province changes the rules causing municipalities to lose millions, then it says it’s up to Ottawa to fix the revenue shortfall created by provincial policy. See how they did that?
There you have it — Bill 23, the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks Santa Doug. (The Hamilton Spectator)
From sketch to finish, see the current way Graeme completes an editorial cartoon using an iPencil, the Procreate app, and a couple of cheats on an iPad Pro … These sped up clips are posted to encourage others to be creative, to take advantage of the technology many of us already have and to use it to produce satire. Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comforted.