Ford lashes out at Crombie over housing bill, says she won’t ‘play in the sandbox’
Published Wednesday, December 7, 2022 6:04AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 7, 2022 3:02PM EST
Ontario Premier Doug Ford took aim at Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie Wednesday over criticism she levelled at the government’s controversial housing bill.
“I know we have a few mayors that don’t want to play in the sandbox and one being Mayor Crombie, and I don’t know what her issue is,” Ford said towards the end of a news conference in Brampton, where he was making a transit announcement Wednesday.
He said the province has an “ambitious target” to build 120,000 homes in Mississauga over the next 10 years as part of its plan to build 1.5 million homes across the province over that same period.
“That’s about 12,000 homes every year. And that’s far from the city’s (Mississauga’s) current annual average of 2,100,” Ford said. “And you can’t you know, the definition of insanity is continued doing the exact same thing over and over again, and expect a different result. And that’s not going to work.”
The Ford government has characterized a lack of housing supply in the province as stemming from municipal “red tape” and fees and is moving to specify housing quotas which municipalities must meet as part of its “More Homes Built Faster Act.”
Crombie voiced opposition last week to the government’s housing bill, saying that it could force the municipality to raise property taxes because of lost revenues from development fees being scaled back by the Ford government and could force the city to build housing types that would alter its character.
Crombie said she agrees that bold action is needed to address the housing crisis and that “the same old isn’t working.” However, the mayor noted that the provincial government must consult with municipalities in advance of legislation that will impact their finances.
“I’m not whining, I’m simply doing my job as mayor to stand up for our residents and taxpayers,” Crombie said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“We are trying to build a great city and accommodate growth, but as it stands, this legislation will force us to either put the brakes on these plans due to lack of funding or significantly raise taxes by up to 10 percent a year for the next decade. I think we can all agree that none of us want that.”
Crombie said she agrees with Ford that bold action is needed to address the housing crisis and that “the same old isn’t working.” However, the mayor noted that the provincial government must consult with municipalities in advance of legislation that will impact their finances.
“Reducing municipal fees will not result in more homes being built or making them affordable for homebuyers. I will continue to ask the province to make amendments to this legislation to hold developers to account to get shovels in the ground and ensure these units are affordable when they are put on the market. There are currently no guarantees that the savings will be passed on to the homebuyer,” she added.
Other municipalities have also voiced strong concern about a measure in the bill which waives or reduces development charges in order to incentivize developers to build more rental and affordable housing. Municipalities argue that the move amounts to a subsidy for developers at their expense.
A recent staff report by City of Toronto staff also warned that there is no guarantee the move will get developers to create more affordable and rental housing, and that it could ironically slow the pace of building by making it harder for cities to build the sort of infrastructure which supports development.
Ford argued Wednesday that with 300,000 newcomers expected in the province each year, the targets are necessary.
“If we sit back and think some magical thing’s gonna happen,” Ford said. “You think when people come here, we’re going to start living in mud huts? It’s not gonna happen under our government.”
He said Crombie is “out there handing out flyers and doing this” while Mississauga also waives some development fees to encourage building office space.
“You know, all I say is get on board. Stop being disingenuous, you know, with the people in Mississauga. It’s just absolutely wrong.”
But speaking with reporters at Queen’s Park Wednesday, Ontario Liberal Party Leader John Fraser said municipalities are “not being disingenuous at all.”
“Bill 23 is gonna raise people’s taxes. It will raise people’s property taxes. And I’m sure the mayors don’t want to do that,” he said. “The government is actually taking away a source of revenue — to build roads, to build fire stations, to build parks, to build the things that you make our community out of.”
He added that municipalities are “right to stand up.”
“As you know, the government likes to make a lot of promises with other people’s money. They do that routinely. And right now, they’re making promises to their developer friends, using property taxpayers’ money and it will cost renters more too.”
Crombie’s office said the mayor was in meetings and could not immediately respond to Ford’s comments.