Brockton mayor calls passing of Bill 109 prior to comment period ‘absurd’

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BROCKTON – At the suggestion of Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak, Brockton will be bringing forward a motion regarding Bill 109 and circulating it to other municipalities in the province.

This piece of legislation was passed prior to the election although commenting remains open. In an interview prior to the meeting, Mayor Chris Peabody called the situation “absurd – this thing is law.”

Sonya Watson, CAO, and Dieter Weltz, chief building official, prepared a report for council on Bill 109 and presented it at the May 24 meeting.

As stated in the report, on March 30, the provincial government introduced Bill 109, the More Homes for Everyone Act; it received royal assent on April 14.

The bill makes changes to a number of different acts including the Planning Act, City of Toronto Act, 2006, and the Development Charges Act, 1997. The changes are aimed at expediting approvals for new homes.

The changes that affect municipalities require gradual refunding of fees if approvals are not made within stipulated timelines.

The report referred to the timelines as “challenging” due to increased activity in development and a busy building season, in that the bill delegates site plan approval to staff. The timelines involved in refunding fees are also of concern, according to the report.

The municipality is responding to the new requirements by reviewing current procedures and improving the process.

However, Bill 109 will impact every municipality in the province, by penalizing them financially for any delays in the planning process – including those caused by other agencies.

“I strongly object to ‘fines,’” said Peabody. “A lot of times, red tape is not our fault.”

While the mayor said he’s all for reducing red tape – the purported purpose of Bill 109 – there are ways it could have been done without making municipalities financially responsible for delays anywhere in the system. The mayor went on to say that “it’s important to consult with First Nations during the planning process. Could Bill 109 circumvent that? It could.”

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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