FUN opposes proposed changes to Ontario’s land use planning framework

New housing north Oshawa

On April 6, 2023, the Ontario Government announced new components of its Housing Supply Action Plan, which seeks to encourage the construction of 1.5 million homes by 2031. Two key elements of the announcement are the introduction of Bill 97, the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act, 2023, which is currently at second reading stage in the Ontario Legislature, and the release of a draft Provincial Planning Statement, 2023 (the “Statement”), which is out for public comment until June 5, 2023. The Statement, if it is adopted by the Province, will replace A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe(“Growth Plan”) and the Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 (“PPS, 2020”).

Under the new draft Planning Statement, density targets have been watered down or eliminated altogether, and municipalities given flexibility to expand their boundaries. This change is expected to remove the requirement for municipalities to prioritize infill development before expanding urban boundaries to overrun natural lands.

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FUN Presentation on Bill 97

Suburban sprawl Ontario

The legislative changes relating to land use planning passed by the current government under Bills 3, 23, 108, and 109, among others, have resulted in:

  • a massive overhaul of the land use planning process and heritage and environmental protection,
  • a new set of directives focussed on supply, rather than demand for homes,
  • reduced the role of duly elected municipal councils, and
  • eliminated appeals by residents who devote their time and energy to contribute to their communities’ development.

We now have Bill 97, another omnibus bill dealing with land use planning and landlord and tenant matters.

The tenant protection measures in Bill 97 are a mixed bag – some welcome, some concerning.

The land use planning measures are welcome if you are a land developer, but otherwise very concerning to Ontario residents.

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An assessment of Ontario public opinion regarding Bill 23

Pickering Development

On-line survey research was conducted in the period December 2022 to March 2023, to assess Ontario public opinion regarding the recent measures by the Government of Ontario related to Bill 23 and its potential impact on housing and the Greenbelt.

The on-line survey research was carried out independently by SPR, an expert survey research group and not funded by government or other sources. Dozens of NGOs and community organizations from across Ontario participated in the stakeholder portion of the survey.

The results show widespread opposition in Ontario to the Government’s Bill 23 and measures affecting the Greenbelt and affordable housing.

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Seventy-eight organizations province-wide oppose changes to Greenbelt

Greenbelt wetland trees, shrubs and grasses

We, the 78 undersigned organizations, are strongly opposed to the Ontario Government’s proposal to remove 7,400 acres of land from the Greenbelt. Opening these lands to development would destroy vital wildlife corridors, negatively impact woodlands, wetlands and watercourses, and result in the loss of over 5,000 acres of farmland. The government’s rationale – that these lands are needed for housing – is unfounded and untrue. We urge you not to proceed with this proposal for the reasons outlined below.

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FUN open letter in opposition to Bill 23

Queen's Park, Ontario Legislative Assembly

We agree that there is a housing supply and affordability issue in Ontario and support the broad goal that new housing should be built and be available across a spectrum of incomes and needs. However our dreams are not focused on detached single-family homes with ‘white picket fences,’ but include a diverse range of dwelling types for both renters and owners, and all income levels. The focus of all orders of government should be on liveable communities where all residents can thrive and grow.

We have identified ten substantive and specific issues with Bill 23. The legislation does many regressive things, but of the ten key items of concern the most egregious is #10 – to prohibit any third party (ie. citizen/resident association) appeals of development applications to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

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Bill 23: Omnibus bill means that suddenly everything is at risk

Markham, Ontario housing development

… ravines, conservation lands, housing, municipal revenue and citizen rights, but housing is still unaffordable

Residents’ associations across the province anxiously awaited the details of this pending legislation on Tuesday, October 25th. Alas, the news was worse than we feared.

Sweeping new legislation has been introduced under the banner of “more homes built faster.” Residents’ associations have long maintained there could be residential intensification in existing built-up areas while also ensuring that neighbourhood scale and character was maintained.

However, legislation that supports intensification should not come at the expense of existing environmental protections, such as ravines and parklands and threaten municipal ability to pay for the infrastructure required for growth.

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In Memoriam – Sheila Harrison Dunlop


Sheila Harrison Dunlop, Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods (FUN) director, Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations (FoNTRA) steering committee member, and long-time board member and secretary of the South Armour Heights Residents’ Association (SAHRA), passed away in her 73rd year on August 25, 2022, after a short illness.

Sheila’s death leaves a big hole not only in the hearts of those who knew her, but also in the organizations for which she volunteered. FUN, FoNTRA and SAHRA will miss her greatly. A formal obituary follows and can be found online as well. We will keep you informed of further information as it becomes available.

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Do we need a strong Mayor or a City with increased powers?

Toronto City Hall

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the legislation that would give “strong mayor” powers to municipal mayors – initially the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa… 

This legislation is unprecedented and marks a huge shift in governance of Ontario’s municipalities. Urban municipalities are governed by democratically elected City Councils. The decisions of civic governments have been the collective responsibility of those elected City Councils not the singular responsibility of one member. While democracy isn’t always perfect, citizens of urban municipalities have generally been satisfied with their form of representative government.

Bill 3’s Schedule 2 permits the Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing to designate municipalities to be subject to its provisions. It is our understanding that Minister will designate Toronto and Ottawa under Schedule 2, despite no consultation or consent from its citizens on the necessity of this arbitrary move. We oppose this initiative.

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Sprawl, Tall, or Infill – Are These Really Our Only Choices?

FUN AGM Presentation – Saturday, June 18, 2022

Guest Speaker: Graham Churchill, Executive Director, A Better Richmond Hill

Sprawl, Tall, or Infill – Are These Really Our Only Choices

With the Ontario government expecting the GTA to grow by an additional 2.9M people in the next 25 years, we need a sensible growth plan. The politicians aren’t doing it so citizen groups need to come together to create one. Graham Churchill has a plan, and he’s looking for like-minded community groups to help refine it.

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President’s Report – June 18, 2022

Thank you for your Association’s membership in FUN and for your (virtual) attendance at this year’s AGM on June 18.

While we are still meeting virtually we are seeing some semblance of normality, despite the changed behaviour regarding work and home. The long-term implications for neighbourhoods can be no more than conjecture.

The events of the past (over) two years reinforce the critical role of residents associations at the local level, and federations of residents associations, at the regional and provincial level, to address policy issues. The mantra “municipalities are a creature of the province” is regularly demonstrated in decisions, and legislation introduced and passed by the provincial government, some positive, but many with long term negative implications for such areas as cultural heritage, urban sprawl, and climate change.

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