UPDATE: On November 28, 2022, Bill 23, New Homes Built Faster Act was passed into law. Heritage Ottawa will be working with heritage community groups and the City's Heritage Planning staff and Built Heritage Sub-Committee to advocate for changes in the Bill and to anticipate the impacts and implications for our heritage buildings and historic districts.
Now we know why the government of Ontario took over a year to approve Ottawa’s new Official Plan: it is called Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act.
OTTAWA'S NEW OFFICIAL PLAN
City Council passed Ottawa’s new Official Plan over a year ago, setting the course for development for the next 20 years. Years of hard work by City staff, members of Council, community groups and local residents went into developing a carefully considered Plan with a focus on neighbourhood character plans and sustainable development while increasing housing supply.
After sitting on the new Official Plan for over a year, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing finally approved it on November 5. Approval, however, comes with a requirement that 30 modifications be made to the Plan that include allowance for taller buildings, expansion of the urban boundary by 550 hectares, and removal of policies intended to protect existing rental housing. The modifications — which cannot be appealed — unilaterally alter the Official Plan to coincide with draconian measures found in Bill 23.
BILL 23, MORE HOMES BUILT FASTER ACT
Released on October 25, 2022, one day after the municipal elections, Bill 23 proposes sweeping changes to how development will proceed in our city, beginning with the imposition of a housing target of 151,000 new homes through 2031 that, according to City staff’s analysis, far exceeds the amount needed to meet projected growth.
Already passed Second Reading, this massive, wide-reaching omnibus bill will require amendments to multiple statutes that will impact the Ontario Heritage Act, the Planning Act, and the Ontario Land Tribunal Act, among others.
“With this bill, the Ontario government is leveraging the housing crisis to cut through heritage-related protections in our communities,” said Heritage Ottawa spokesperson David Flemming. “Bill 23 is focused on quantity over quality, setting heritage conservation back 10 years.”
City staff’s analysis of the new bill, released on November 7, 2022, is grim. Among its potentially devastating effects, Bill 23 will give Ministerial power to override heritage protection, cripple the Heritage Register by making it impossible to keep a property listed for more than two years, change the criteria required for heritage designation of buildings and districts, and eliminate third-party appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal by community organizations and residents (only developers and municipalities will have that right).
In addition, Bill 23 will prohibit municipalities from seeking details about development projects through Site Plan Control on matters pertaining to sustainable design, building appearance and landscape features. These restrictions will “impact the City’s ability to create desirable streetscapes, attractive spaces and promote sustainable development,” states the City staff report.
And development projects with 10 or fewer residential units will be exempt from Site Plan Control entirely.
Bill 23 will also allow the development of three units per residential lot in the city, which could significantly compromise the carefully prepared guidelines to protect designated heritage conservation districts and devastate non-designated heritage character areas.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? TAKE ACTION!
Let the government of Ontario know that leveraging Ontario’s housing crisis to cut through hard-won heritage protections is not a solution.
Bill 23 has been sent to the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy to receive comments from the public and recommend any amendments. Public hearings in November are only taking place in the Greater Toronto Area. None are scheduled for Ottawa. Written comments can be submitted until November 17, 2022.
The comment period has been extended from November 24 to December 9, 2022. Click HERE to make your comments on Ontario's website.
Write to your MPP. MPPS have a responsibility to advocate for their constituents and our communities. Find you MPP here.
CLICK HERE to read Heritage Ottawa's letter to Minister Clark and members of the Standing Committee.
City of Ottawa Comments on Bill 23, Homes Built Faster Act 2022
Appendix A -- City of Ottawa Comments on Impact of Proposed Changes in Bill 23
City of Ottawa staff have analyzed the local impacts of the province’s new housing bill, and their conclusions are grim, Ottawa Citizen, Taylor Blewett, November 8, 2022
Ottawa’s new official plan has finally been approved, with the urban boundary pushed further out by the provincial government, Ottawa Citizen, Taylor Blewett, November 5, 2022
‘The devil is in the details’ of updated official plan given back to Ottawa, CBC News, Avanthika Anand, November 7, 2022
Province approves Ottawa’s official plan with taller buildings, wider urban boundary, CBC News, November 5, 2022