Given a choice, I’ll pick facts over political posturing every time. A case in point:
Last year, the Province abruptly slashed the amount developers pay the city to provide facilities to serve new residents. They presented it as if this was somehow a good thing for anybody other than the only ones to benefit: developers.
When I called out the Ford government on this, it offered assurances that the final version of the legislation would be “revenue neutral.” Local MPP Stan Cho went further, claiming Willowdale residents would be better off.
When Stan stated this at the 2019 annual general meeting of the Edithvale Yonge Community Association, I publicly accused him of presenting false information. We agreed to revisit the issue at this year’s meeting, after the legislation was finalized. In an effort to reduce the tension, we bet a beer on it.
For a fleeting moment early this summer, it looked like I might be proven wrong. At that time, the government introduced a completely new proposal requiring developers to contribute 15% of the value of their site towards such items as community centres, child care centres, new playgrounds, and new roads.
“I owe Stan a public apology,” I told Markus, my Chief of Staff, adding that I was relieved to be wrong. Always wise, Markus advised me to wait until the new proposal became law.
When it did, late this summer, it became obvious that the rich and powerful have a lot more influence than you or I. The 15%, which would have left things more or less even, had been cut to 4%. And Willowdale residents are the biggest losers.
To compare the rules as they are now to the ones that will be in place by 2022, I looked up real numbers for three developments in the ward – a smaller older one, another currently under construction, and a larger project soon to be built at Yonge&Sheppard.
Here’s the comparison:
75 Canterbury Place
15 Holmes Avenue
4800 Yonge Street (Yonge & Sheppard)
Total Under Current Rules
Total Under New Rules
Without funds from developers, there would be no Edithvale Community Centre or Edithvale Park. There would be no child care centres at McKee, Churchill, and Avondale schools, at Lansing United Church, and no child care and Family Resource Centre opening at the Sheppard Centre. Multiple new playgrounds would not exist. The Doris and Beecroft service roads would not have been completed.
Keep in mind that a community centre costs $50 million and a child care centre upwards of $6 million. Property acquisition for new roads can cost tens of millions. And there will never be enough money to meet the urgent need for affordable housing alongside the market units built by the private sector.
To add insult to injury, the Province axed the rule that the money be spent in the community where the development occurs, requiring that it be pooled city wide. The chances of getting most of the money from Willowdale back to Willowdale are slim – for the simple reason that development takes place mostly in 5 wards and there are 20 other members of Council who prefer to spread the money around.
Last night, at this year’s Edithvale annual meeting, when it was time to declare whose information was correct, Stan Cho again asserted that Willowdale was better off with the new legislation.
Governments that put private interests ahead of public ones should be held accountable. And politicians should know it’s not cool to mislead the public.
So, to quote a couple of Willowdale guys who became famous as Rush, “be cool or be cast out.”