By Connor Simonds, Local Journalism Initiative reporter
During a recent council meeting assessing the local impacts of the provincial government’s Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, Regional Councillor Jim Jones and Councillor Keith Irish proposed a report that would serve to give councillors insights on how to move forward.
Bill 23 is a province-wide legislation aimed at streamlining the housing development process. The Act aims to make it easier for developers to build homes and get necessary permits in a timely manner. However, the Act has been criticised by some communities and local councils concerned about the potential impacts on the environment, the community and the City’s finances.
Council emphasised the importance of a comprehensive review and public engagement program by the province.
They also called for a transition plan to be developed with municipalities if the Parkway Belt West Plan (PBWP) is revoked. The PBWP refers to a network of interconnected parks and parkways that surround the GTA.
The PBWP offers scenic routes for driving and cycling and offers residents access to green spaces and recreational areas. It encompasses well-known parks, including High Park, Rouge National Urban Park, and Don Valley Parklands.
In Markham, parks included in the PBWP are Milne Dam, Toogood Pond, Rouge National Urban Park, and Buttonville Pond Park. The PBWP helps preserve natural habitats and protect wildlife while oﬀering urban residents a chance to connect with nature.
Council also emphasized the need to protect higher-order transit infrastructure along the entire Parkway Belt Lands. They called for the Milne Conservation Area lands to be protected under the City of Markham’s Greenway System if the Parkway Belt West Plan is revoked. Council requested that the province refrains from selling any land in the Parkway Belt West Plan until it is planned and zoned.
Council raised other concerns about the changes to the definition of ‘watercourse’ and ‘other areas in the regulation under the Conservation Authorities Act. Council stated that they do not endorse these changes and that the protection of provincially significant features should be the top priority.