Stronger powers are to push housing development faster under Bill 23. File image

Durham’s lakeshore mayors get stronger powers

Mayors of Durham lakeshore municipalities have cautiously welcomed stronger mayoral powers handed out by the provincial Doug Ford government yesterday.

The Government of Ontario yesterday expanded strong mayor powers to 26 of the province’s large and fast-growing municipalities, including all of Durham’s lakeshore municipalities, in order to meet its target of building 1.5 million new homes by 2031.

Mayors were generally welcoming wanting to know more about the impact on their municipality’s particular needs.

“The diverse housing needs of individual municipalities call for tailored tools and approaches, and the granting of strong mayor powers will empower us to achieve our new housing targets. I understand the responsibility that comes with this authority.  I am committed to transparent and inclusive decision-making, and actively seeking input from all stakeholders prior to exercising these new powers,” said Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe.

“I welcome the opportunity to learn more about how this tool can help address local housing needs and meet our target of 13,000 new units by 2031. Different communities require different approaches, but regardless, residents expect us to do all that we can to deliver on this important issue,” said Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster.

Mayor vs Council

The mayors were keen to stress that the stronger powers did not imply a possible schism between the mayor and council.

“I want to assure members of council and Whitby residents that consensus-building and collaboration will continue to be my focus. One of my top priorities for this term of office is to bring council together as a team, said Whitby Mayor Elizabeth Roy. “I believe strongly that councillors must be able to represent the interests of their constituents and that the principle of majority rule is how council should conduct the public’s business.

“At the Town of Whitby, we are fortunate to have a team of highly skilled public servants whom council relies on to provide expert advice — there are no plans to change that approach,” she said.

“I will be cautious and respectful when it comes to these new powers, aiming to strike a balance between the Town of Whitby’s responsibility to deliver on the province’s priorities and the need to safeguard democracy at the local level,” Mayor Roy added.

“Affordable housing is a fundamental right, and I am fully committed to taking decisive action. Through collaboration and meaningful dialogue with members of council, staff, residents, community organizations, provincial agencies, and the private sector, we will explore innovative solutions that meet the diverse housing needs of our residents,” said Pickering Mayor Ashe.

“As the mayor, I believe it is critically important that Clarington Council continue to work together to solve tough issues like housing. Collaboration with my colleagues has been and will continue to be my focus as we navigate the rapid growth in our community,” said Foster.

“These new tools will further empower the mayor’s office, with council, to support the development of more homes, faster,” said Ajax Mayor Shaun Collier.

Bill 23 and funding development

Pickering Mayor Ashe pointed out that it is crucial that we continue to work towards the development of a long-term funding and service delivery model from the senior levels of government. “As our population continues to grow, we must ensure that we have the necessary infrastructure and services in place to support our community effectively.”

Ashe went on to say he also “recognized the importance of balancing responsible development with preserving our neighborhoods and commitment to sustainability. We will ensure that decisions regarding housing are made with careful consideration for the overall quality of life in Pickering.”

The Region of Durham has said (see below) it expects to lose $281 million over five years as a result of Ontario’s More Homes Built Faster Act 2022 (Bill 23).

Whitby Mayor Roy said Ontario is facing a housing crisis and it is incumbent on municipalities to support the province’s efforts with respect to creating more housing. In March 2023, Whitby Council pledged to facilitate the development of 18,000 new homes by 2031.

Ajax Mayor Shaun Collier said he looked forward to the rollout of strong mayor powers for Ajax and the heads of council for 26 of Ontario’s largest and fastest-growing municipalities.

“Today’s announcement will result in more agile and efficient local governments. Ajax has consistently proven our willingness to take bold steps to support growth and intensification in our community. In addition to our housing pledge to build 17,000 new homes by 2031, we’ve embraced the Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator and minister’s zoning orders as mechanisms to move projects forward in a responsible and predictable manner.

Related Stories

Bill 23: Durham expects to lose $281mn over five years

More Homes Built Faster Act may have a $5.1bn tag

You May Also Want To Read

Ontario allocates $730mn for GO train to Bowmanville

Clarington Fire volunteers in big centres to be phased out

Vandalism at Ed Broadbent Park, Garden of Human Rights

All Durham beaches posted as unsafe for swimming

Durham Drive Alert: Road line painting to last till November

Share with:

Leave a Reply