Oshawa councillor calls Ford a “dictator” for latest legislation to ‘assess’ regional governments

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Published November 16, 2022 at 3:39 pm

Chris Young, Canadian Press

Oshawa Regional Councillor Brian Nicholson says Premier Doug Ford is “declaring war” on elected councils in Ontario with legislation introduced Wednesday that would further extend the ‘strong mayor’ powers and appoint facilitators to assess the regional governments in Durham, Halton, Niagara, Peel, Waterloo and York.

It would also reappoint the existing regional chairs in Niagara, Peel and York.

The bill is all part of Ford’s plan to make sure 1.5 million more homes are built in Ontario and to ensure the people in power in municipal government will make that happen, regardless of environmental issues or public dissent.

“Nobody is arguing we need more housing but the way he is going about it is like a dictatorship,” Nicholson said. “Nothing surprises me about this guy anymore. He seems to want to impose his will just because he’s the Premier.”

Brian Nicholson

The impending legislation follows Bill 23 – More Homes Built Faster – which has earned its share of criticism for its narrow focus on eliminating red tape to speed up construction and for eliminating protection of the environment, and the recent swap of protected greenbelt lands – despite promises made that he would not touch the greenbelt.

It was that latest piece of legislation that Nicholson called “draconian” and an “ambush on municipalities perpetrated by the provincial government.”

Wednesday’s news is even more of an attack on local councils and considering many councils in Ontario lean to the right political, even more surprising, Nicholson added. “Why he is declaring war on his own people is beyond me.” He said, suggesting Ford’s own caucus may be the only voice that could make him stop.

“Who elected him to do this? He’s playing god.”

Durham Region Chair John Henry has already been vocal in his criticisms of Bill 23, particularly the removal of regions from their traditional role in housing decisions and the elimination of development charges from what the Province deems “affordable housing,” declaring that “growth should pay for growth.”

A spokesman for Henry’s office said they had just learned of Ford’s latest legislation and would need time to digest the information before commenting, however.

Steve Clark

The bill, introduced by Housing Minister Steve Clark, would also let the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa propose bylaws on provincial priorities – such as building more homes – and enable council to pass them if more than one-third of council members vote in favour.

Clark already has another housing bill before the legislature, which would in part freeze, reduce and exempt fees developers pay in order to spur building, but municipalities have expressed concerns that would leave them without enough funding to construct supporting infrastructure.

Ontario’s fall economic update from earlier this week showed that the province has revised projections for new home construction downward, but Clark says he still believes the province can hit the 1.5 million target.

With files from Canadian Press

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