Mississauga & Brampton councils denounce Bill 23 dubbed ‘the train wreck Bill’ for its dire threat to City Hall finances
Alexis Wright/The Pointer

Mississauga & Brampton councils denounce Bill 23 dubbed ‘the train wreck Bill’ for its dire threat to City Hall finances

As the PC government forces its heavily criticized housing plan down the throats of Ontario’s municipalities, Mississauga and Brampton councils have joined spreading opposition to the controversial Bill, which they say will create “devastating” consequences.

Bill 23 has been decried by residents, local advocates and environmental groups. Stakeholders have argued that without sweeping amendments it will make Peel’s affordable housing crisis even worse, put residents and businesses in existing floodplains at greater risk and blow apart current emissions reductions targets. 

Mayors Bonnie Crombie and Patrick Brown put their names on a letter with other municipal leaders, including mayors from Toronto, Pickering, Guelph, Kitchener, Cambridge, London, Barrie, Markham, Milton, Sudbury, Oakville, Kingston, Thunder Bay and more–requesting that the province continue consultations with the municipal sector before the final reading of the housing Bill, which in its current form would force cities to build infrastructure for 1.5 million new homes by 2031, more than doubling the pace of construction most municipalities have planned for. Policies that will create severe impacts on municipal finances, they wrote, need to be amended. 

“Our municipalities will realize significant tax increases over the next several years to maintain the infrastructure needed to support these developments without offsetting and/or support from other levels of government,” the mayors wrote.

For the construction of affordable housing units, the proposed Bill exempts builders from paying fees known as development charges. This goes against the traditional policy that growth should pay for growth, demanding developers pay for the necessary infrastructure buyers require, such as storm and wastewater systems, roads and drinking water. 

“The impact on the proposed changes to parkland spaces could also place an additional significant financial burden on municipalities, as we do not have the funds allocated to secure public greenspace from privately held spaces to secure safe outdoor spaces for our residents.”

The motions passed by councils in Mississauga and Brampton in opposition to Bill 23 in its current form are in direct contrast to quotes from Mayor Crombie and Mayor Brown included in a press release from the Ontario government on November 16. That release related to Bill 39, the Better Municipal Governance Act, which will create the municipal legislative powers to push through many of the proposals in Bill 23. The two pieces of legislation are directly linked. 

In that press release, Mayor Brown said: “I am glad the provincial government is looking at ways to make municipalities in Peel more efficient by removing duplication. This will help address the challenges of growth and support the construction of the homes Brampton residents so desperately need.”

Crombie described the proposed changes in Bill 39 as a “positive step toward reforming local government in a manner that addresses the concerns of Mississaugans” and that the legislation will “lead to greater fairness and less red tape for residents and businesses, so both the city and province can plan for future growth and support the province’s goal of building 120,000 new homes in Mississauga over the next decade.”


Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie have offered mixed opinions on the legislative proposals introduced by the PC government. 

(The Pointer files)


When asked by The Pointer, neither Brown nor Crombie addressed the apparent contradiction between these comments and the current stance of the councils they lead. Although the letter from municipal leaders they both signed, along with the motions approved at their councils would indicate their support for Bill 39 has waned. 

According to Peel’s municipalities– the situation is dire. 


‘Devastating’ to Mississauga 


An overview presented by City staff to Mississauga Council on Wednesday revealed the City would lose an estimated $815 to $885 million in development charges for infrastructure over the next decade if Bill 23 passes as is. 

“The impact on us is, the word ‘devastating’ comes to mind, that without compensation, this Bill will gut our capital budget or require that we increase our tax rates substantially,” City manager and CAO Paul Mitcham said, setting the tone for the council meeting.

“The financial impact over the decade, in the order of $900 million, is probably the most significant legislation that we’ve ever seen.”

According to Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, these “bold actions” are necessary to reach the PCs’ promise of constructing 1.5 million homes by 2031.

The Bill introduces changes, which, if approved, would significantly limit the City’s ability to provide important housing-related infrastructure and services resulting in increased costs for Mississauga residents.

“This is the developers will rule the world bill, that’s what it should be called,” Ward 5 Councillor Carolyn Parrish said during the meeting.  

Staff and councillor comments came a day before the initial deadline for municipalities to make submissions to the province on Bill 23. The deadline to submit comments has since been extended to December 9. 

The fast-tracked timeline to push the legislation through before new councils have settled in after the October 24 municipal election was among the concerns discussed during the Mississauga council meeting. The PCs also tried to ram controversial legislation through last year as the holiday season set in, when the public was particularly preoccupied. 

Katherine Morton, manager of planning strategies, said although staff generally support the aim of increasing housing supply, that support is outweighed by apprehension over the blanket reductions to development charges and parkland fees. 

There are also many unanswered questions around how Mississauga is going to deal with the amount of growth the City is being mandated to ensure under the PC government’s proposed Bill.  

If passed, it would allocate the construction of 120,000 new homes – 15,000 units per year – to be completed in Mississauga by 2031, adding hundreds of thousands of residents to the increasingly dense city. Bill 23 also has the potential to reduce the number of affordable units by capping them at five percent of all new units built in projects going forward.  

In 2021, Mississauga issued building permits for 5,500 new units. In 2022, the City issued building permits for 6,100 new units – a record year – yet these figures still fall far short of requirements legislated under the Province’s new housing plan. If Mississauga is to meet this provincial target it would need to more than double its current levels of housing development.

Staff are estimating implementation of the Bill could cost the City $815 to $885 million over the next 10 years. Of that amount, an estimated $325 million in revenue from growth-related infrastructure will be lost and changes proposed to parkland dedications and parkland cash in lieu could lead to financial impacts of $490 to $560 million – a 70 percent loss to the City’s revenue stream. 

Without corresponding provincial and/or federal grants, these losses will make it next to impossible for the City to fund infrastructure required for the mandated hyper-growth. City Hall would need to cover the costs due to lost revenues either through reducing services or transferring the price tag onto the tax bills paid by property owners, Morton explained. 

Ward 4 Councillor John Kovac echoed the alarming sentiments expressed around the council table.  

“It’s disappointing and one wonders really where this is coming from, politically or in any way where this is coming from and boggles the mind that to some, this is going to be treated a bit like an early Christmas gift: excited about the potential, excited about getting more homes built and there are positive aspects to that.”  

“But for the most part it's going to be feeling like taking a lump of coal in the stocking for the majority of people who live in Mississauga.”

Kovac expressed his vexation, stating councillors are being frozen out from the process by the PC government, also noting his distaste for the lack of consultation time to provide feedback, calling it a “travesty” and “ridiculous”.

“The idea of empowering those who already have power, we need to be a little bit careful on that front,” he said. “It’s very risky business.”


Mississauga Councillor John Kovac was one of many at City Hall to express disdain about Bill 23 and its potential impacts on local residents. 

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)


Some of the proposed changes could speed up the approvals process for powerful developers. However, other alterations could undermine important planning considerations, like not allowing architectural and landscape details to be considered during site planning, cutting the public out of the traditional collaboration that allows residents to help decide how their community will look. 

In a summary of City staff’s top requests – 21 pleas in total – to the PC government, staff requested the Province provide offsetting grants to cover any loss in revenue resulting from the legislative changes to development charges and cash-in-lieu; remove non-residential development charge discounts and restore the City’s ability to set its own rates; and restore parkland rates, or at least remove the land value caps placed on rates, among other asks. 

The Pointer reached out to Mayor Crombie for comment on the proposed legislation, the implications it will have on the City and recent supportive comments she made last week on the just proposed Bill 39, which is complimentary to Bill 23, effectively creating a stripped-down municipal governance structure to allow provincial priorities to be pushed through council. She did not provide a response to the questions asked. 

The City’s chief financial officer, Shari Lichterman, pointed out the reality that the City needs to find a way to make up the revenue losses that would stem from the proposed legislation.

For cities, including Mississauga and Brampton, currently facing growing infrastructure gaps in the hundreds of millions of dollars, Bill 23 has the potential to cripple them financially. 

Seven years ago, Mississauga had an infrastructure gap of $60 million; in the 2022 budget document, staff predicted that over the next 10 years, the City’s infrastructure gap would sit between $400 and $450 million. This represents the total value of upgrades, repairs or replacements to existing infrastructure that are required, but have no funding source. 

“Municipalities aren’t going to be able to survive this sort of hit to capital programs that are already being decimated by things like inflation and really the rapid growth itself,” Lichterman said. 

The City has policies in place that will assist Mississauga in achieving the provincial targets, but staff question whether the development industry is prepared to bring those units to market given economic conditions, including persistent labour and material challenges.

Mississauga has been planning for growth beyond its Regional allocation of 100,000 units so no City planning policy changes are needed to reach the provincial pledge. However, the Bill has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of money available to the City to provide the infrastructure required to create complete communities in these planned growth areas. 

City staff and councillors also discussed apprehensions around the looming repercussions when Mississauga residents see their skyhigh tax increases. 

“The challenge that we’re going to have frankly is that we are up against a lobby that has set the narrative for a number of years, now, that we as the municipalities are the problem,” Rob Trewartha, director of communications and initiatives, said. 

“From a messaging perspective every time we speak about this we have the challenge of playing into the narrative that we again are the problem.”

Ward 7 Councillor Dipika Damerla echoed the sentiment, stating that while the City is fighting a number of issues with the proposed changes in Bill 23, what it is really fighting is the narrative that municipalities are to blame for the lack of available housing and slow residential growth.

“This is the most self-defeating, stupid move made by any provincial government because this is going to be a triple whammy to every citizen of Mississauga,” Damerla stated, adding the “$850 million in development charges is a gift…straight from the pockets of the residents of Mississauga into the pockets of developers,” over the next 10 years. 

The same was said by Colin Best, the president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), in a submission to the province in which he wrote that Bill 23 in its current form “benefits private interests at the expense of public interests.”

“All members of the Provincial Parliament will need to consider in whose interest they govern,” Best states. “The province has offered no evidence that the radical elements of the bill will improve housing affordability…It is more likely that the bill will enhance the profitability of the development industry at the expense of taxpayers and the natural environment.”

City council voted in support of the report’s recommendations, authorizing staff to submit detailed comments on Bill 23 to the Province during the consultation period. The motion also included direction for Mayor Crombie to work with the Ontario Big City Mayor’s caucus on a public relations campaign to try and counter the messaging coming from the powerful development lobby. 

A “train wreck” for Brampton 


While Mississauga councillors discussed the impact on their City, Brampton was doing the same–and Council members did not mince words.

The PC government wants more housing units in Brampton by 2031 than what the City’s Draft Official Plan anticipates by 2051.

Data provided to Brampton Council by City staff on Wednesday, showing the forecasted housing numbers through Bill 23, which are way above the City’s plan.

(City of Brampton) 


“This is very concerning, especially the changes to the environment, especially the financial sustainability in the long-term,” Councillor Harkirat Singh said. “I think every municipality is going to be concerned about that, but particularly Bramptonians. It’s going to have a long-lasting impact. So it seems like this is going to be a joint effort on behalf of all of Council to lobby their local MPPs to work through FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities), AMO, the Region of Peel, because it looks like we’re going to have to make some noise on this in a coordinated way.”

A motion passed unanimously requesting an extension on Bill 23’s commenting period for an additional six months, which will be sent to each MPP representing the City. 

Councillor Michael Palleschi said Bill 23 can be officially dubbed, “the trainwreck Bill.” 

“I look forward to picking up a fight if we have to on behalf of the City and figuring out what we need to do before the province just bulldozes this over us,” newly elected Councillor Gurpartap Singh Toor, said.

Their comments followed a staff presentation from Andrew McNeill, the City’s Director for City Planning & Design. He reported that if Bill 23 is passed as is, it would have devastating impacts on the City

Significant tax increases, lack of affordable housing, poorer quality parkland, unsuitable living conditions for residents along with other negative consequences were laid out by McNeill.

The City anticipates if Bill 23 is approved as written, based on the loss of revenue from development charges, cash-in-lieu of parkland and additional infrastructure hits, it can expect to lose approximately $440 million. To make up this lost revenue, without a corresponding increase to provincial grant funding, it would require an 80 percent increase to the current property tax rate for homeowners.

Rapidly increasing housing costs in recent years have already put significant pressure on households. In 2021, there were 28,000 households on Peel Region’s Centralized waiting list for affordable housing subsidies and approximately 28 percent (7,700 households) were Brampton residents.

The City reported that additional impacts to development charges may also result from proposed changes under Bill 23 which would alter what is classified as affordable housing. The current classification system defines “affordable” as housing that requires less than 30 percent of a household's monthly income. Under Bill 23, this would change to housing that costs 80 percent of average market value.

For Brampton, it could result in additional loss of revenue of between $260 million and $800 million depending on what percent of future developments meets this threshold. This would be equivalent to a one-time property tax increase of between five and 16 percent. 

To service the additional required infrastructure, the City anticipates needing an estimated $2 billion beyond the current estimate, or $200 million annually.

In addition, McNeill said the Bill will threaten 385 properties that are “valuable to the community.”


“This Bill is a huge umbrella and has a lot of things under it. If us sitting here at a table are having a hard time grasping the implications of this Bill, I don’t know who's going to help the residents understand it.”

Councillor Gurpartap Singh Toor


Councillor Rowena Santos called the presentation shocking, while Councillor Martin Medeiros pointed to the “glaring lack of community engagement.”

“To Councillor Medeiros’ point, we just had a meeting with staff just yesterday talking about Springbrook tertiary and the pressure the province is putting us under,” Santos said. “This certainly increases those pressures, but our residents don’t know that. They don’t understand the implications of what this is, and unfortunately it’s not being dictated by us and now we’re having less and less say on what we can do.”

The potential loss in revenue from changes to the way cities can collect cash-in-lieu of parkland revenue is estimated to be $700 million to $1.05 billion over the next decade for Brampton. This means reduced revenue for parkland and recreational facilities, but also fewer parks across the city due to a cut in the greenspace required for developers to include as part of their projects. 

In McNeill’s report, he recommended the City request the province not to proceed with proposed changes or provide alternative revenue streams; scrap the proposed development charge exclusion; lower the housing targets; engage with the City of Brampton to determine an appropriate number of new housing units; include more realistic targets and discount calculations for affordable housing; and maintain existing cash-in-lieu parkland calculation methods.

Other impacts include less Council oversight in neighborhood redevelopment, potential overcrowding in certain areas that lack the infrastructure needed to support the explosive growth and unsuitable living conditions for residents.

“The major growth centres, of which Brampton is at the top of the list, are absorbing the brunt of this through the larger share of growth,” McNeill told Council. “Smaller towns in northern Ontario won’t feel the impact. They will feel the impact through development charges, etcetera, but the amount of growth that they’re dealing with—we’re definitely unique in that aspect.”

Environmental damage is also anticipated. The proposed changes are expected to lead to reduced ability to protect, conserve, enhance and manage the natural heritage system, leading to the loss of protected lands, as well as changes to the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System that will weaken its protection potential, leading to critical wetlands being vulnerable to development. 

As a result, City staff is recommending the Province not proceed with the proposed natural system changes, and to reconsider removing conservation authorities from much of the development approval process. Bill 23 would significantly reduce a conservation authority's ability to protect the watersheds in their jurisdiction and ban them from consulting with municipalities about the environmental impacts of proposed developments. 

Staff also recommended that the province maintain current Greenbelt protections, remove the “designate it or lose it” approach to preserving irreplaceable cultural heritage, and prioritize the protection of Brampton’s unique history based on the value to the community.

Santos requested staff look into the possibility of creating a taskforce to address the impacts of Bill 23.

“While they’re very quick to rush a ton of people into the City of Brampton, even with our growth targets originally, we were not able to build enough roads to accommodate the movement of people. Transit is obviously key,” Santos said. “That being said, I think based on what may or may not happen with this new legislation tomorrow we definitely need to regroup and figure out how to advocate very strongly with respect to transit and some of the other issues that are going to be peripheral damage with this new legislation.”



Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JessicaRDurling

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