We, the Board of the Palmerston Area Residents' Association (PARA), oppose the proposed expansion of powers that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is seeking. The principal reasons are as follows:
1) The consultation is coming too late. This consultation is happening after the government passed Bill 197 the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 that enables the Minister to address site plan matters and apply inclusionary zoning as part of a zoning order. The government legislated these expanded powers without consultation. To now undertake consultation on a further expansion of these powers, and to ask the public how these powers ought to be used, ignores the fundamental issue that this consultation should have been held before the authorization of these powers.
2) Overuse of the MZO. Whereas there were only 3 MZOs issued in the past 15 years, the Ministry has issued at least 38 MZOs overriding municipal planning processes and suppressing community voice in these projects. We find this a misuse of the spirit and intention of the Minister's Zoning Order, which is meant to be enacted during emergencies or on matters major provincial significance.
3) Lack of commitment to support affordable housing. The government speaks about using these expanded powers to build affordable housing, but has not presented reasonable and specific targets for affordable housing, or an associated budget to support this effort. This calls into question the Province's actual commitment on this important issue as it relates to MZOs.
4) The government is seeking to expand its powers to include all site planning details. Site planning is currently the jurisdiction of municipalities, which have the site-specific knowledge to manage traffic, walkways, lighting, waste facilities, landscaping and exterior design. Without this local knowledge, the province will increase the risk of costly mistakes that will ultimately end up costing local communities and Ontario taxpayers.
For these reasons, we are writing to express our opposition to the expanded powers that the Minister is seeking and we recommend that the authority remains with the Municipality.
Palmerston Area Residents' Association (PARA)
Submitted January 29, 2021 1:32 PM