On November 28, despite weeks of strong opposition across Ontario, Doug Ford’s conservative government pushed Bill 23 through the Ontario legislature.
This is not the result we were hoping for. Among its many flaws, Ford’s so-called ‘More Homes Built Faster’ Act will remove tenant protections and affordable housing, strip Toronto’s annual budget of over $200 million, silence conservation authorities, reduce parkland, and ignore the constitutional duty to consult Indigenous governments. The Ford government pushed through this legislation despite outcry from First Nations, municipalities, scientists, and a broad range of advocacy groups including TEA.
But, thanks to a groundswell of people like you who took action and spoke up, there were amendments to the bill which allowed some elements of municipal green standards to remain. We’re still working with our allies to unpack how these changes will impact Toronto’s green building standards. TEA will keep advocating for Toronto and other cities to continue to use their authority to implement green standards to cut building emissions and are hopeful that this important tool will continue.
One thing we know for sure is that our TEA community - and the voices of so many other advocates - have made a significant impact on the trajectory of Bill 23. We know this because the Bill could have passed smoothly through the legislature. That didn’t happen.
In a rare move, the Conservative chair of the committee reviewing the bill attempted to end the sessions early — likely because thousands of people emailed, phoned, and protested outside the offices of Conservative MPPs across the province. Even now after the passage of Bill 23, the pressure is still mounting steadily to repeal this destructive bill. None of this would have happened without the massive and sustained outcry from the public through TEA and countless other advocates working together.
The second thing we absolutely know for sure: Doug Ford’s dangerous and undemocratic actions have activated an incredible network of people against his plans to cut affordable housing, extend sprawl, undermine local government, and threaten Ontario green spaces like the Greenbelt. Over the past month, I’ve spoken with urban activists fighting for affordable housing, suburban activists fighting sprawl in their own communities, and rural activists fighting to save critical watersheds, ecosystems and habitats. I’ve heard from First Nations upset about the lack of consultation, and agricultural organizations protecting farmland from further development. There is a growing movement for environmental and climate justice within Toronto and across the province. Our voices are only getting louder and more powerful as we work together to fight attacks on our climate and our collective well-being.
I invite you to join us in this growing movement to build a more just, climate-friendly, equitable and democratic Toronto. As we move into the holiday season, many folks will take a well-deserved rest. Prepare yourselves for 2023. I sense that we’ll see a resurgence of political action across Toronto that we’ve never seen before - and we’re going to need your voice.
How-Sen Chong is the Climate Campaigner for the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA).