Fact Checking our MPP on Bill 108

Willowdale MPP Stan Cho has released a “fact sheet” on Bill 108. But who’s checking the facts?  Virtually every point on the page was either incorrect, misleading or unsupportable by information on the public record.  Here are our top 10 most glaring concerns:

Claim: “Lengthy unpredictable approval processes and high costs have slowed down the building of new housing and rentals leading to a supply-demand imbalance.”

Reality: Toronto has had more development than any other city in North America. Since 2002, 226,000 new homes have been built in Toronto.  Another 144,000 have been approved by the City, waiting for developers to build them.  In Willowdale we have already exceeded the Provincial growth targets for the year 2041.

Claim: “Bill 108 will… shift costs away from home buyers, and incentivize building purpose-built rental units and affordable housing.”

Reality: Bill 108 is designed to shift costs away from developers, not from homebuyers.  There is no evidence that any costs saved by developers would be passed on to consumers, nor any requirement for them to do so.  Also, Bill 108 limits where the City can require developers to build affordable housing.

Claim: “Bill 108 will make sure that any new homes directly contribute to the increase in infrastructure needed.”

Reality: Under existing rules, Section 37 contributions from developers must be spent locally.  The projects built with this money in Willowdale have included Edithvale Community Centre, child care at McKee, Churchill and Avondale schools, at Lansing United Church, and a family resource centre in the Sheppard Centre.  In combination with Section 42 parkland dedication, it has funded multiple new playgrounds and every new park built in Willowdale over the past 30 years.  Precise details have not been released, but it appears that developers will contribute much less than they do now, which is already not enough to pay for the cost of servicing growth.

Claim: “The Ontario government is investing in infrastructure in high-growth areas like Willowdale [including] $30-billion over ten years in new infrastructure investments for roads, water/ wastewater, community centers & parks.”

Reality: If such a fund exists, we have no indication that a single dollar has been allocated to Willowdale.

Claim: “The 2019 Provincial Budget included… $28-billion for new subway infrastructure in Toronto.”

Reality: The Budget included the announcement of a $28.5-billion transit plan, but allocated only $11.2-billion of provincial funding.  The balance was assumed to be paid for by the Federal or local governments.

Claim: “The province is consulting with municipalities and communities to develop regulations for Bill 108.”

Reality: Bill 108 was announced without any prior notice to municipalities and the Province is ramming it through in a rush unprecedented for such far reaching legislation.

Claim: “Bill 108 will help increase supply in areas of the GTA that can support it…”

Reality: The Province has combined a return to OMB rules with a demand for higher densities within 500 to 800m of every subway and LRT station.  This will increase development – ESPECIALLY in high growth areas like Willowdale – without the benefit of detailed study, implications or understanding of infrastructure needs.

Claim: “These changes will not reduce the total amount of funding the City receives from new homes.”

Reality: The lack of provincial disclosure about the regulations accompanying Bill 108 makes it impossible to state unequivocally that this claim is untrue. At this point, all that is known is the City will now need to choose between parkland dedication (at a much lower rate) and securing contributions towards community facilities. Currently, the City is able to secure both. However, there is every reason to believe Bill 108 is intended to reduce costs to developers at the expense of the City.

Claim: “Bill 108 merges the Parkland Contribution and Section 37 fees only into the new Community Benefit Charge. Development Charges and Education Development Charges are still charged separately.”

Reality:  In effect, Bill 108 merges developer contributions for community facilities, and in some cases parkland, into one centralized pot that we expect will greatly reduce the total amount of funding.  Because Mel Lastman, when he was Mayor of North York, had the foresight to require the developers to pay their “fair share” when building along Yonge Street, the loss of Section 37 money and parkland dedication will jeopardize Willowdale’s quality of life for new and existing residents.

Claim: “Bill 108 will help get more of these community benefits built in our neighbourhood by mandating that a portion… of funds must be spent in the neighbourhood it is collected.”

Reality: Currently Section 37 funds must be spent in the community in which they were generated.  It appears that Bill 108 eliminates that.

Claim: “The devil is in the details”

At least they got one right.

For more facts on Bill 108, we recommend the presentation made by the City’s Chief Planner Gregg Lintern at City Council on May 15, and at John’s Town Hall Meeting on May 27.

MPP Stan Cho’s “fact sheet” can be viewed here: