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Bill 23

The passage of the Government of Ontario’s Bill 23 spells disaster for everything from conservation authorities to farmland to democracy.

Muskoka © Missy Mandel

The Issue

With Bill 23 – the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 – nature, farmland and democracy are under attack. This omnibus bill brings sweeping changes to the province’s natural heritage and land use planning legislation and policy. It amends many laws (e.g., the Planning Act, the Conservation Authorities Act), removing and weakening environmental protections and excluding the public from meaningful involvement in land use planning and decisions affecting their communities.

At the same time, related to but separate from Bill 23, the government is proposing several significant policy changes that would exacerbate the profound and devastating impacts of the bill on Ontario’s natural heritage.

To top off the bad news, the provincial government is also proposing to remove lands from the Greenbelt for development. See this joint statement from the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance Steering Committee opposing the proposal.

Bald eagle, Grand River © Anca Gaston / Grand River Conservation Authority CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Exposing the Myth

The provincial government frames all the above changes as efforts to address the housing crisis, obscuring the fact that Bill 23 satisfies first and foremost the interests of developers, delivered on a silver platter. In fact, the shortage of land for housing is a myth. As Ontario’s Housing Affordability Task Force explained in its 2022 report, we do not need to sacrifice environmental protection to address the housing crisis:

“… a shortage of land isn’t the cause of the problem. Land is available, both inside the existing built-up areas and on undeveloped land outside greenbelts. … Most of the solution must come from densification. Greenbelts and other environmentally sensitive areas must be protected, and farms provide food and food security.” (Housing Affordability Task Force report, p.10)

This Bill 23 backgrounder summarizes our main concerns. For more in depth discussion, watch the webinar, Bill 23 is a Wrecking Ball, hosted by Environmental Defence and featuring Anne Bell, Ontario Nature’s Director of Conservation and Education. You can also read our blog: “Bill 23 – What You Need to Know”.

Oak Ridges Moraine © Bill Lishman

What We Are Doing

American bullfrog © Peter Ferguson

What You Can Do

Niagara Region Farm © Tim Hagen

Grassroots Opposition Matters

Despite the provincial government’s determination to push these hazardous law and policy changes through, we can push back.

When the government introduced Bill 66 and the Schedule 10 “open-for-business” by-laws that would have overridden protections for water, natural heritage and farmland in municipalities across Ontario, we pushed back and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced that the provincial government would remove Schedule 10 from Bill 66. That opposition was bolstered by our Nature Network of 150-plus member groups.

Now it is time to push back again. We are grateful for our many members and supporters who are helping build the grassroots resistance. Share with your networks and have your voices heard – Ontarians do not want to sacrifice environmental protections and democratic land use planning processes.

Stop Bill 66 Rally, Ajax © Kevin Thomason