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Council calls on province for infrastructure funding

The Town of Parry Sound carried a motion on Feb 21st officially calling upon the provincial government to commit to infrastructure funding.

The funding would be for investment in new and upgraded infrastructure necessary to meet the demands of the proposed increased housing stock across the province.

The carried resolution states Bill 23 reduces the opportunity for municipalities to collect development charges on new units built, “based on a false premise that development charges are an impediment to the construction of housing stock.  Development charges that if lost, the resolution says will reduce municipalities’ capacity to invest and re-invest in the infrastructure necessary to keep pace with development growth.”

Also known as the “More Homes Built Faster Act,” the bill was passed at Queen’s Park in November, removing many restrictions for developers, as well as tools for municipalities to enforce requirements on development. The province says the legislation is needed to meet a campaign promise of building 1.5 million homes in 10 years, which includes affordable housing.

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According to McGarvey, the provincial government wants more houses but they are taking away the municipalities’ ability to pay for those upgrades or new infrastructure through reductions in development charges or even cancellations, depending on the type of development in question.

“There is no money at the moment from the province for infrastructure. Other than a formula-based infrastructure grant, as the federal government does. We received some money from that. But if we’re looking for big dollars for infrastructure projects or housing, it’s not there,” said McGarvey at a meeting earlier this month. “This is a clear and real download to municipalities which means, bottom line, the taxpayer is the one that will end up paying the bill. The province at this time seems to be forgetting that we represent the same taxpayers,” he added.

The motion also states the resolution be forwarded to the Premier, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Minister of Infrastructure, MPP Graydon Smith and AMO.

A request for comment on the resolution was made to MPP Graydon Smith’s office, however, no reply was received by the time of publication. 

In December, following a protest held at his office, Smith said he’ll continue to stand behind Bill 23. “We can’t keep doing what we’ve done– we need to do things differently. Municipalities are a big part of the conversation and the solution. I’ve been there, I’ve been in that seat. I understand the challenges, but I also see an opportunity, and it’s an opportunity that our government is taking to work with municipal partners and home buildings to grow our communities.” Smith, who serves as the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, said. 

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