Affordable Housing and Daycare Could Be at Risk Under Ford’s Proposed Community Benefits Charge

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City programs that support residents’ quality of life, including parks, daycares, and affordable housing, may no longer receive funding from local developers as part of proposed rules from the provincial government.

The Ford government proposed the new rules on Friday, which include instilling caps on how much a city can charge developers for “community benefits,” such as land for parks, affordable housing, and child care facilities.

READ: More Than 283,000 Families Are On An Affordable Housing Waitlist

As reported by The Star, Toronto currently has three different tools under provincial legislation that the City uses to collect money or direct benefits from developers. But under the newly proposed rules, the province wants to collapse those tools into one new “community benefits charge” or CBC.

Under the new rules, the Ford government proposed capping this charge in Toronto at 15% of a development site’s land value.

Councillor Josh Matlow says the new “planning scheme” appears to break the promise the province made to municipalities that any changes would be revenue-neutral. Matlow says what’s most concerning is that if municipalities move forward with a CBC they would lose the ability to require parkland from developers.

“The Parkland Dedication provision has allowed the City of Toronto to provide much-needed green space for local residents. Without the dedication provision, it will be very difficult to purchase new park space in many Toronto communities due to soaring land prices,” said Matlow.

Matlow went on to suggest the proposed community benefits charge is “another Doug Ford giveaway” for his developer supporters, coming at the expense of Ontario residents.

“The CBC does not provide a single new tool to increase the supply of affordable housing, despite claims from the province and their friends in the development industry. Municipalities will see their ability to provide services such as parks, daycares, recreation facilities, and libraries reduced. These amenities are essential to ensuring that the communities most affected by rapid growth are able to enjoy a high quality of life.”

Meanwhile, the major associations representing Ontario developers praised the province’s proposal, calling it an important step in addressing the housing affordability challenges in the region.

“By focusing on increasing supply with the province’s Housing Supply Action Plan, increasing the speed of approvals and taking actions such as the CBC system the government is taking decisive steps to address the supply and affordability crisis in the GTA,” said Dave Wilkes, President and CEO of BILD.

BILD also said the proposed changes would help to address some structural deficiencies in the previous system.

“In 2019, BILD commissioned a study that found between 2006 and 2017 municipalities across the GTA had collected $1.13 billion more in parkland charges from new residential development than they had spent on new parks,” said Wilkes. “But more importantly it showed that how these charges were being assessed acted as a disincentive to denser and high-rise development, which has been the policy objective in Ontario for decades.”

However, the public has been quick to share their opinions on the proposed CBC, calling it a move for Ford to support his “developer friends.”

The public has until March 30 at 11:59 pm to provide feedback on the proposed components.

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