36th Parliament, 1st Session

L039b - Wed 13 Dec 1995 / Mer 13 Déc 1995










Report continued from volume A.



Mr Harnick moved second reading of the following bill: Bill 23, An Act respecting Victims of Crime / Projet de loi 23, Loi concernant les victimes d'actes criminels.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): We introduced this bill for first reading but a couple of weeks ago and the basis upon which this was introduced was the fact that this government will not accept a system that allows victims of crime to suffer twice, first at the hands of the criminal and second under a justice system that does not respond to and respect victims' needs.

This legislation is a major step in righting the balance between the needs of victims and the rights of the accused. It is one of the most comprehensive victims' bills of rights in this country. This bill meets our commitments to Ontarians to bring forward a victims' bill of rights, something we promised during the last election campaign, and it'll bring, we believe, meaningful change to the way victims are treated in the criminal justice system.

These changes should have been brought in a long time ago. The previous two governments both had an opportunity to pass a victims' bill of rights when it was proposed by Cam Jackson, the member for Burlington South. Mr Jackson first introduced a bill of rights in this Legislature in 1989.

This bill establishes a set of principles that sets out how victims should be treated in the criminal justice system. We will give them the recognition and the support that they deserve. Supporting victims' access to information at all stages of the criminal justice process, including conditional release of offenders from institutions, is something that I should think is basic, fundamental and should be recognized, and the Victims' Bill of Rights in fact does that.

This bill also enshrines the victims' justice fund, guaranteeing that money collected under the victim fine surcharge will be solely dedicated to providing services for victims.

The bill makes it easier for victims to sue their assailants in the civil courts by recognizing certain automatic liability and automatic damages existing in certain situations for certain crimes that will be enumerated in the regulations to the bill.

The bill is also very significant in that it amends the Ontario Evidence Act and adds to the Ontario Evidence Act very specific provisions to protect children who are witnesses in courts and court proceedings in the province of Ontario, something long overdue, something that in fact we were lagging behind the Canada Evidence Act in this respect, and this is a very, very significant part of this bill.

We are taking action to restore justice, fairness and victims' confidence in the justice system. The people of Ontario have demanded these changes and we are taking action.

Bill 23 is a codification of in essence the importance of victims who are coming through the justice system to aid the system of justice in giving evidence about what has happened to them and says, most importantly, that victims should be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for their personal dignity and privacy by justice system officials.

I know that there will be those who will say this is nothing but fine words; this is nothing by window dressing. In reality, that is a simple way to brush off what should be written down and what should be recognized and what should be understood on behalf of victims, because when victims come to the justice system, they are generally strangers to this system and if we can give them some assurance of what they can expect and how they can expect to be treated, then they who are doing a service to the system of justice can recognize and be assured that they will be treated properly. I don't think that this is window dressing, I don't think that this is trite and I do think that the system of justice tries very hard now to do all of these things in a huge system and we try and do them very well.

The people who work in the system attempt every day to look at all of the things that are in this bill and to implement them in the course of their day-to-day jobs within the justice system. But what is important about this bill is the fact that there is a recognition that those who come to the system as strangers to it can now know what they can expect and they can now know how they should be treated and they can now know how they will proceed in terms of the cases they're involved with through the justice system.

I think that's important. I think it's important to recognize what they do for the system and how the system should treat them. I think it's important as well to provide the protections we're providing in terms of the use of civil proceedings that are found in this bill and to look at the issue, as I indicated earlier about the Evidence Act and the protection of children and as well to codify the victims' justice fund account so that we can indicate quite clearly where money that comes from the fine surcharge is going to be going, how it's going to be dedicated so that the money won't go to purposes for which it wasn't created, as we've all seen happen in this Legislature before when certain funds are dedicated to go to a certain place and they just don't get there. They go into consolidated revenue and they disappear into that black hole, as we've seen and as so many people in this Legislature can attest to.

Those are the remarks that I have for second reading, and I look forward to the balance of this debate.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Any further questions or comments? Any further debate?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): This is a bill which will have, I think, a strong consensus in the Legislative Assembly among members of the three parties. I can well recall in the last Parliament, there was a considerable amount of discussion of the rights of victims and the possibility of some legislation which would assist them. While this bill is not going as far as some out there would like, I'm sure, because one of the things it mentions is within the realm of fiscal responsibility which is always a confining factor in a bill, nevertheless, it is a bill which will be, I think, helpful to the victims of crime.

Those of us who reside in St Catharines are well aware of some of the higher-profile cases that have taken place, and as a result, people in our community are well aware of the difficulty confronted by victims and the families of the victims of crime.

Doug and Donna French, who are the parents of Kristen French, have been thrust into the media limelight, not of their own wish, not of their own desire, but because of unfortunate circumstances which have confronted the family.

As a result, we who observe the court proceedings and the criminal justice system have seen these individuals going through very difficult circumstances, circumstances that are first of all extremely costly to themselves. If we were to calculate the amount of that cost to the victims' families in the cases that I mentioned, of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, I think we would find that there would be well over $100,000 in terms of legal fees and other costs incurred, and some of those costs continue to mount.

Fortunately, some people in the volunteer sector have established some funds that are of some assistance to these individuals, but the Attorney General mentioned some of the circumstances that are faced by victims -- and indeed, this was the case with the French family, who are constituents of mine -- the role that they play in terms of wanting to seek information, of wanting to see justice at all stages of the process; they, I think, were somewhat concerned, as they've expressed this publicly, with some of the plea bargaining that goes on. I am not a lawyer, I'm not involved in the legal system, I only observe it from the outside and can understand some of that, but I'll leave that to another day.

Also, a good friend of mine, Sandie Bellows-DeWolfe, was a victim of a rather horrific crime which involved kidnapping and assault. After her trial, the assailant was placed in jail, and after a period of time of some healing, though I don't think time can ever heal the circumstances that confront some of the victims of crime, she shared with people in our community and the province and the country some of the problems confronted by victims. That's why, when people say, "Why do you need a bill of this kind? Why would the Attorney General want to see this bill through this session?" that is the answer to that question.

I want to, as well, pay tribute to my colleague Annamarie Castrilli, the member for Downsview, who has expressed concerns about this field and had a private member's bill before the House, which she withdrew because she knew that the Attorney General was bringing in a bill. I know that much of what the Attorney General has in his bill, the thoughts behind it probably came from Ms Castrilli.

Hon Mr Harnick: No, it all came from Cam.

Mr Bradley: I'm hearing something else. I don't think the Attorney General expects me to pay any tribute in that direction, but I can say that Annamarie Castrilli had played a significant role.

I want to also take this opportunity, while the Attorney General is with us, and on the issue of victims of crime, to commend him on his quick action in dealing with a house which became a symbol of horrific crimes in my community. I addressed a letter to the Attorney General in September; I had the St Catharines city council endorse it through a request of mine to them so that he would see that it was a community endorsement. The Attorney General responded promptly to that letter, and I know he gets volumes of letters, in a cautiously positive way, as only he could at that time, because of the trial not being completed in all of its stages. Subsequent to that, when I addressed a question in this House to the Attorney General, he responded in a positive fashion at that time. But that points out again what victims see, the evidence which is tangible that continues to exist and how a government can assist.

One interesting aspect of this bill the Attorney General is well aware of and that every Treasurer should be aware of is the designated funds. Trying to get a Treasurer or Minister of Finance to agree to designated funds is like pulling teeth. In this bill he has indicated that some of the money that would come from additional fines, surcharges on fines, will be going into a special fund to assist victims and that that is designated; I don't know how firm that's designated but at least it's implied that that money is going to be there for those purposes.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Currently in the Provincial Offences Act.

Mr Bradley: Currently in the Provincial Offences Act, according to the former Attorney General.

Mrs Boyd: And you should recall that we passed that.

Mr Bradley: -- who I believe was responsible for bringing that bill to the House for our consideration and passage.


I believe what the bill sets out to do is helpful, that is support victims throughout the criminal justice process by providing them with supportive, respectful and courteous treatment, and that's very important.

I think those who know the system better than I know that that hasn't always necessarily been the case, and I think putting it in writing, putting it in an act of the Legislature is going to be helpful.

To support access to information at all stages of the criminal justice process again is going to be helpful to those who are the families of victims and the victims of crime who would like to have that information available to them to support access to civil remedies for victims who are seeking redress. There are instances where they want to go not the criminal justice route but the civil justice route to be able to seek redress, and that is helpful when that can be facilitated by legislation.

To support child witnesses by amending the Ontario Evidence Act to make it easier for children to be witnesses at civil proceedings, again that is of assistance, I believe, to the victims of crime and their families, and to support the provision of better information to victims about the conditional release of offenders from provincial institutions.

If there's one thing that scares people, it's that the person who committed a crime is going to be coming out of the institution, and I think they like to be aware of that information and not have it be a surprise, so that they can take whatever action is necessary themselves to ensure that their own safety is protected as well as it can be.

I mentioned the victims' justice fund and that it guarantees that the moneys collected out of the victim fine surcharge be solely dedicated to providing services for victims.

So, on behalf of at least myself, I am supportive of this legislation as far as it goes, and I look forward to its passage by the Legislative Assembly.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Comments and questions?

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): The member for St Catharines touched on events that happened in his riding over the past some time now, and I think the public recognizes now that the incidence of violent crime is increasing. The level of violence for some reason is becoming almost indescribable.

Our society has spent a long time and energy and money dealing with the criminal element, from police forces through the court system, incarceration and rehabilitation. But the idea of victims of crime and any consideration for them, although maybe in a local nature there was a sympathy there, there was never anything that went beyond that, and I think this bill is timely and well placed.

I want to say that the violence we see today is becoming, as I said, indescribable. I just want to mention to those in the House, the 19 that are here now, that in the United States, for the one known or found serial killer at any given time, there are estimated to be another 100 out and about in the public.

So I think this incidence of crime is becoming more profound, as I said, and I will gladly and wholeheartedly support this bill.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions? Further debate?

Mrs Boyd: Of course, the Attorney General is quite right, that any time we affirm, as a society, in any way, shape or form, the concern that we have for victims of crime, the need that we have constantly to be mindful that victims of crime have already suffered greatly from the criminal activity of those who have attacked them in any way, we are doing the right thing. So I think you will find in this House everyone being supportive of the purposes behind reaffirming our support for victims of crime.

I have a number of comments about this bill, however, because I think it's very important that, although this is a good step forward in terms of affirming the needs of victims of crime, it is a statement of principles. Except for the portion that deals with the child in relation to the Evidence Act, it has very little in it that really will make a difference to victims of crime.

I think we need to acknowledge that and I think we need to have on the record exactly what this bill does and doesn't do, because I think there are great expectations out there, raised quite legitimately by the member from Burlington over many years, about the fact that if we have a Victims' Bill of Rights, suddenly the world will be different for the victims of crime. That of course is not the case.

I'd like to start with the child evidence part of this act, because this is a very, very important step forward. It is a piece of legislation that has been prepared within the ministry for some time, ever since the Criminal Code child evidence at the federal level was changed, and for many different reasons simply never made it on to the agenda of this Legislature before.

The Attorney General is to be congratulated for bringing it forward. It is a very important part of the picture for children who find themselves, through no fault of their own, embroiled in the civil aspects of the legal system which are controlled by the province. The paralleling of many of the provisions with the provisions that have pertained under the Criminal Code, and indeed have been upheld by various levels of courts in this country, are very, very welcome indeed.

I think the minister will find himself congratulated by all those who work in the child welfare area, by those who work in the family law area. It is an important step forward, and he certainly has our support in doing that.

Similarly, although the issue of the fine surcharges, the special accounting for that, the assurance that those funds would go only to victim assistance, currently exists within the Provincial Offences Act and the government has felt it is an important gesture to move that into this bill, it certainly maintains a position that we took that was widely supported by victims' groups, and that in these times of real fiscal restraint gives some hope at least to victims that the kind of assistive services that they need when they are going through the justice system may be there when they require them.

In these hard times I can imagine that the Attorney General had to fight very hard to maintain that special fund. All of us who've been in government know that finance ministers, almost by requirement, have to fight special-use funds, so the minister is to be congratulated for having maintained that and put it into a codification that really ensures that there is an understanding among the people of Ontario that those funds will be collected and directed only to victims' services.

I would say to the minister that I hope his ministry does a better job of making sure that every person who sits on the bench, every justice of the peace, every crown attorney knows the importance of ensuring that those victim fine surcharges are indeed asked for and are collected and in fact swell that fund. Because, quite frankly, I must say in self-criticism, we did not do a good enough job of that, and there are many justices of the peace and judges in this province who still are sceptical about whether or not that fine surcharge will be directed to victims.

I think that it is going to be important as part of the publicity that surrounds the passing of this bill to ensure again that those who are working within the field understand the importance of having that separate fund and have an assurance that all of those funds will in fact go to victim assistance. I think that's very important.

I'm less impressed by the rest of the bill, and I've said that to the minister in response to his statement announcing it. There are a number of reasons, and I think I'd like to get those on the record fairly briefly because I know we have a lot of business to do tonight.

First of all, it's very important to understand that this portion of the bill is very different from what the member for Burlington South brought forward. The member from Burlington's bill was very clear about the kinds of services to which victims were entitled. It's not surprising that the titles of the act are quite different. The member from Burlington's bill, Bill 19 in the last Legislature, was entitled An Act to establish the Rights of Victims of Crime. This bill is An Act respecting Victims of Crime, and of course we should respect the victims of crime, but it really means something very different.


In the member from Burlington's bill, one of the most important sections was paragraph 2 of section 2:

"Victims should have access to social services, health care and medical treatment, counselling and legal assistance responsive to their needs."

Nowhere in this bill that's in front of us is there an assurance that victims should have access to any level of service of any kind. That is an extremely important difference between the member from Burlington's bill and the bill that's in front of us now.

The member from Burlington's bill was very important to the blueprint that the government members put out as part of their platform for the last election, and those words about victims having "access to social services, health care and medical treatment, counselling and legal assistance responsive to their needs" were part of that blueprint. We must not lose sight of the fact that that blueprint is not present in the bill in front of us, and in fact the bill in front of us shows a great retreat from that aspect.

Now I should hasten to add that one of the reasons I, as Attorney General, did not endorse the bill from the member from Burlington was that, given the fiscal circumstances, given the difficulties that we were facing in a budgetary sense, we did not believe it was appropriate to hold out false hope and to tell people they had a right to services that, indeed, in every part of Ontario might not be immediately available to them at the time that they first required them. We very honestly said, "We cannot commit to that in any meaningful way and it is not appropriate for us to pass that bill in that way."

I understand entirely why the government, given its fiscal circumstances, given the fact that they've already changed access to social services, that they've already decimated the health and medical services that are available to victims of crime; given that counselling dollars have been withdrawn from virtually every area, and counselling dollars that were extraordinarily important to victims of crime, particularly the victims of crime who are given special status in this bill -- victims of domestic assault, victims of sexual assault -- it is not surprising to me that we do not find that clause in this act.

I know that the Attorney General has been approached by the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses about this omission and about the import of this omission and about the fact that this omission has not been publicly admitted by the government to this point and needs to be.

In the definitions in the act, the definition of "victim" is as follows:

"`victim' means a person who, as a result of the commission of a crime by another, suffers emotional or physical harm, loss of or damage to property or economic harm and, if the commission of the crime results in the death of the person, includes:

"(a) a child or parent of the person, within the meaning of section 1 of the Family Law Act, and

"(b) a dependant or spouse of the person within the meaning of section 29 of the Family Law Act."

Similarly, in the section on civil proceedings, the presumption of the suffering of emotional distress again depends on the meaning within section 29 of the Family Law Act.

It's important to know that people who are in the gay and lesbian community are only now beginning to break silence about the violence that happens within their domestic circumstances. This bill, of course, relying on the definition within the Family Law Act at this point in time, means that those persons are not considered victims under this act and are not considered to have presumption of redress under the civil law provisions.

I think that's a shame, because, as has been true with all of the issues around domestic violence and around sexual assault, it is extremely difficult to support those who are only beginning to break silence about a very hidden problem. Unfortunately, this bill gives no encouragement for that continuing breaking of the silence in that particular community.

As we go through the principles, it's very important for us to understand and to make sure that victims of crime and their families understand the import of the language. Those of us who've negotiated collective agreements know very well the difference between the word "should" and the word "must." In this bill, these principles all state "should," as did the member for Burlington South's bill. In other words, we are stating principles that have not got any effect in terms of an assurance that those items will be provided to the person. In other words, there's no onus, no requirement on the part of anyone to provide these things. We're simply acknowledging publicly that in the best of all possible worlds that should be the situation.

As the Attorney General has said, that may be valuable in some ways. It may remind those -- and indeed the whole system of serving victims is very much under attack by certain segments of our society. Certainly victims of domestic abuse -- we see a constant barrage of literature from those who would see the special recognition of that particular and costly problem denied in this society, so it's important for us to state what "should" be in these cases. But it's important to victims to understand that it is a statement of principle and not a statement of what will necessarily be available to them at any particular time.

In that section of principles there is a real problem in terms of the way the new bill, Bill 23, outlines what happens as opposed to the member for Burlington's bill. The member from Burlington very carefully understood that unless you assign some of those "shoulds" to specific sectors, to specific jurisdictions -- of the police, of the crown attorney, of the parole board, of probation and parole -- unless that is assigned, everyone will say to the victim who goes seeking that information, "It's not my jurisdiction." We have seen that happen again and again in this province. We see the police tell victims of crime, "It is not my jurisdiction to tell you that this person has been released," and you will see probation and parole tell people that it is not their jurisdiction to do that, or they can't because of freedom of information and privacy.

So it's really important for us to understand that the lack of assignment of these duties to specific sectors makes it impossible for victims and their advocates to assign the accountability and the responsibility that ought to be here in the act.

It contrasts very strongly with the directives that our government and the Liberal government put out to police services and to crown attorneys around the investigation and prosecution of these crimes in the domestic assault area and in the sexual assault area. Very clearly in those directives, which are public information, there is a clear onus upon crown attorneys and upon police officers to provide information, to provide the kind of sympathetic services that indeed are outlined as principles in this act.

It is that kind of practical directive that ensures accountability up the line, right to the Attorney General or the Solicitor General, whichever case it is, that really means a difference for victims of crime. I think it's important for us to know that what we are doing here is not really giving that kind of accountability.

We do have other mechanisms to do that. Having this as legislation in fact gives force, I suppose, to those very directives that are already in place and I hope will ensure the intention of the government to ensure that those directives do stay in place, because I know that the Attorney General is under some pressure to particularly withdraw from some of the areas around domestic assault and sexual assault. I sincerely hope this will give him the strength and the courage and the legislative background which will enable him to resist that kind of pressure.

One of the provisions that is missing in the principles is the right of victims of crime not to be harassed in terms of their personal information. One of the real issues that we have today is the current tactic of defence attorneys to attack the victim of crime and try and go into that victim's medical history and try and bring out all sorts of factors in that victim's private life to intimidate that victim in terms of presenting testimony, and indeed to attack the credibility of victims of crime. That's particularly true in the sexual assault and the spousal assault areas, but indeed we see that this may happen in some other areas. We have seen victims of muggings accused by defence attorneys of somehow calling that kind of crime upon them, particularly if those people happen to be prostitutes, happen to be people who in other ways have not got what is considered generally to be a good character.


I think it's very important for us to understand that a victim of crime is a victim of crime, whether or not that victim may indeed in other aspects have victimized another. We really need to be very clear that if we're talking about principles, we're talking about principles for everybody. But nowhere here do we see a provision that ensures victims of crime who have the courage to come forward that indeed they will not be the ones victimized. The principle is there. We say we should not do that and the criminal justice system should not do that, but in fact that's not the case, nor, I should say, in the civil justice system.

The limitations in subsections 2(2), (3), (4) and (5) of the act are very serious and people must take account of them. The principles set out in subsection 2(1), all those principles that we talked about, are subject to the availability of resources and information: what is reasonable in the circumstances of the case, what is consistent with the law and the public interest and what is necessary to ensure that the resolution of criminal proceedings is not delayed.

This section does not tell us who makes those decisions. It does not tell us what subjective decision-making goes into determining that in fact there aren't enough resources to inform a victim of the dates and places of all significant proceedings that relate to the prosecution.

I know crowns' offices that are very pressed in terms of the work they do to try and find those who are going to testify in cases. This is a really serious, it seems to me, problem, to give an out to people that relies on available resources without saying who makes the determination of what resources are available. That's a really important issue.

I think the Attorney General meant this to apply to expectations around social services, health and medical services, counselling services and legal aid. I suspect that's what was intended there, but I would tell him that as the crunch comes in terms of the administration of justice, police forces and crowns' offices and corrections facilities and probation and parole are constantly looking for ways to avoid the costs of their particular part of the pie.

I'll give you a good example of the ongoing ridiculous fight that is happening in my own jurisdiction of London around who's going to pay for lunches for prisoners who are coming from the local jail facility to the courthouse. This has raged on for two years now and it's an absolutely absurd jurisdictional fight that continues to go on. It goes on when the person who is in charge of both Correctional Services and the Ministry of the Solicitor General happens to be the same person, ought to be able to be resolved fairly quickly. I would say to the Minister of the Attorney General that when you go between two people who are ministers, as well as two different aspects of a particular ministry, you run into even further problems, and he should be aware that's a problem in this bill.

It is very important for people to understand that, again, like in Bill 26, the government has made sure that all of this is meaningless by saying, "No new cause of action, right of appeal, claim or other remedy exists in law because of this section or anything done or omitted to be done under this section." What that means is that if a victim of crime finds himself or herself treated in a way that is inconsistent with these principles, there is absolutely no recourse. There is no way, there is no appeal; there is no way in which you can do a complaint that is new under this bill. Of course there's the police complaints commission and the whole way in which that goes, and there is of course a complaints process within the Ministry of the Attorney General. But there is nothing here that gives anything new to victims of crime -- nothing.

Under the civil proceedings, again it is good to have some support for people who do go forward with civil proceedings. What makes me nervous in this section is that we already have the victims of crime compensation act in this province, which was set up to prevent victims from having to go through a long and very difficult process of going specifically for damages themselves. That was why it was set up, and in fact what this does is throw the onus back on to victims to go out and sue their victimizer and have to carry on over, as the minister knows, usually many years a process that may continue the pain instead of helping the healing from the victimization. That's a real problem, because there's nothing in here that provides for those who do not already have the money to pay a lawyer to take these actions or the money to file these actions to take that action.

It is again a provision that only for those people who can afford legal help will they get it. We know that legal aid is not going to be available for this kind of civil action under the announced solution that was done today under legal aid. What we really are doing is saying to people, "You have the right to sue, but we know that unless the Law Society Act is changed it is not going to be possible for you to have contingency fees that allow you to sue."

The minister's nodding, and I hope that means he is prepared to introduce into this House the changes under the Law Society Act that now reflect the decisions of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and that includes contingency funds. That would certainly make this a much more meaningful situation.

Hon Mr Harnick: It's coming, Marion.

Mrs Boyd: I'm glad to hear that it's coming.

I would say that under the regulations and under the prescribed crime conditions in this area, I know that the presumption of emotional distress is there for victims of assault within a domestic setting -- except for those, of course, who are same-sex partners -- and the victim of a sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault, and that's good because we know, when we look at the statistics of the victims of crime compensation act, those who have come forward under that, that these are the most painful issues, most often of victimization, and I'm delighted to see that there. That certainly has been the way the act has been applied by the board in that case and it's great that it's there.

I would really have preferred to see the whole issue of the new stalking law added there, because the emotional distress factor under the stalking law is probably one of the most widely known issues that happen. It has only just been a crime for a little less than two years now in Canada and it is still in its infancy in terms of the prosecution and in terms of measuring the success of prosecutions under stalking, but we all know that some of the most celebrated cases that have occurred in this country have occurred in a situation where someone is pursued unreasonably by someone who may or may not have been a partner, may or may not come under the presumption -- if they have been a spouse, then they might come under the presumption -- that is there. But I think that is one of the prescribed areas that it would be a good thing for us to look at and it comes to mind immediately.

I think we will all support the act as it is. Not supporting it would be very similar to not supporting apple pie, as the member for Halton North would appreciate, but I think it is really important that we all, in talking about what is accomplished with this act, not hold out false hope to victims of crime. Very often victims of crime assume that because the police have investigated and charges have been laid, the outcome is going to be some sense of satisfaction for themselves through the criminal justice system, some lessening of their own pain, and we all know that's not always true. In fact the pain can be worse, and that's exactly what the minister is trying to ameliorate in this bill.

I think we need to be sure that victims of crime do not think that this act gives them something that is going to automatically mean that the pain of their victimization is going to disappear; it won't. But if anything in this act makes us more responsive, more mindful and more caring and compassionate about the effect of crime on its victims, then it will be worthwhile.


The Deputy Speaker: Comments or questions? Further debate?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I would just like to make a few comments with respect to this bill and tell you a little bit of my own experience in dealing with victims who have been involved in the criminal system.

First of all, as a new member, I find it somewhat baffling, quite frankly, that this legislation has not been here before. I've heard a lot about what the previous two governments were going to do, I guess, at one time or another, and I'm somewhat surprised that nothing has been done in this regard earlier.

The second point I want to make is that to a certain extent, although the bill itself is laudable, there's quite a bit of window dressing involved as well, and I would just like to pick up on some of the comments that the member for London Centre made.

Perhaps the Attorney General in his response will be able to deal with these issues. Maybe he could indicate why the preamble to the bill doesn't say, "The people of Ontario further believe that the justice system must operate in a manner that does not increase the suffering of victims of crime." I realize the legalese way of doing it: that by using the word "should," then presumably somebody can't take action against the crown or whoever's involved to ensure that it happens or to make sure that the bill wasn't complied with.

The same thing in the general principles that are set out in the second paragraph, where it states:

"The following principles apply to the treatment of victims of crime:

"Victims should be treated with courtesy" -- well, I think they must be treated with courtesy -- "compassion and respect for their personal dignity and privacy by justice system officials."

You almost wonder why this is in here, because it has certainly been my experience over the years in dealing with both the police and certainly the crown's offices, that in a lot of cases, maybe not in all cases -- and maybe that's why this bill is here; I'm not quite sure -- a lot of the principles that this bill talks about have already been complied with and have been in effect in this province for some time.

Maybe by codifying it we can ensure that it will continue to happen. But I would suggest that by not having a word like "must" in there and also with respect to the second part of section 2 in which it states, "Victims should have access to information about," and it lists about 20 different categories -- I don't understand why it doesn't say "must" there either, because it's just a permissive piece of legislation this way and there's really no force or penalty behind it in the event that these provisions aren't adhered to.

That really leads me to another point which I can't understand: why there is no penalty clause in this bill at all. There's no penalty clause that in effect states what happens to those people who are dealing with the victims of crime if the provisions of this act aren't being adhered to. It seems to me that leaves the ministry with an easy out.

I suppose they could say that they're sorry and that it won't happen again and the next time the victims will be taken into account, but in the particular case that may be at hand at that time, it's just too bad. There's really no sanction on the different offices involved in providing the victims with the necessary information to ensure that it's going to happen. It always seems to me that if you pass a law that doesn't have a sanction provision to it or some sort of a penalty provision to it then, quite frankly, you have a law that doesn't have any teeth to it at all.

What makes it even more distressing is subsection 2(5), which clearly states, "No new cause of action, right of appeal, claim or other remedy exists in law because of this section or anything done or omitted to be done under this section."

That makes it crystal clear that this is a good intent, and I suppose it'll go out to all the various offices that will deal with victims, to the effect that these are the principles or guidelines that should be followed, but if they don't, there no sanction there at all.

I think the only way that victims could truly be protected in this province in situations like this is if we had a kind of a penalty clause that insisted that if the provisions weren't adhered to, somebody, in effect, would pay the price for it.

I would also be interested in finding out from the Attorney General how much money he estimates there will be in this fund at the end of one year, because I certainly don't have any notion as to how much money we're really talking about.

Certainly, the changes to the Evidence Act are necessary, but I think that there will be some sections there that will keep some lawyers busy for quite a period of time, especially section 18.6, which I'm sure is well-intended -- I know it's well-intended -- but where it states:

"The court may prohibit personal cross-examination of a witness under the age of 18 by an adverse party if the court is of the opinion that such a cross-examination,

"(a) would be likely to affect adversely the ability of the witness to give evidence; or

"(b) would not be in the best interests of the witness."

It goes on to say:

"(2) If the court prohibits personal cross-examination by the adverse party, the cross-examination may be conducted in some other appropriate way (for example, by means of questions written by the adverse party and read to the witness by the court)."

I know what's intended here, and certainly youngsters under the age of 18 do need protection in certain situations, but on the other hand, the accused has a right as well to cross-examine a witness. My colleague here tells me that it's already in the federal act, so I'm sure that the section has been tested on a number of different occasions.

I don't want to prolong this debate, or at least my portion of it, any longer, so the final comment I wish to make is that although this bill is well-intended and goes some way in dealing with this issue, it still makes me wonder why the bill couldn't have been written in a more forceful manner and why the rights of the victims could not have been made mandatory or the ways in which we deal with victims not have been made mandatory and why there could not have been any penalty provisions in the act in the event that the act was not adhered to.

I think those are three important issues, and certainly the fact that those issues haven't been addressed makes this bill an awful lot weaker than most people, or the media, might think, or we might think, for that matter.

Mrs Boyd: Very briefly, it surprised me that my colleague from Kingston and The Islands, and indeed his colleague from St Catharines, did not in their area represent the concerns of the member for Downsview who had a similar bill.

One issue she had raised that is not in this bill is the issue of employers having to give support to witnesses who had to cooperate with a police investigation or with court action. I am surprised that my friends did not raise that as something they would like to see added to the bill. As anyone who has dealt with victim witnesses in these circumstances knows, that often is a factor inhibiting the cooperation of witnesses with both the police and the crown, and that's a problem in this area.


Mr Bradley: Very briefly, the member for Downsview, I believe, has indicated this publicly and would have hoped that it would have been in the bill. She is hopeful, I believe, of being able to return to the House tomorrow to make her comments on the bill and to indicate what she believes to be the weaknesses and the strengths of the bill. I did not want to be presumptuous enough to speak on her behalf, but I'm glad that the member for London Centre has raised that particular issue, which is one of great importance and one which I believe many would have hoped would have been addressed in the bill.

The Deputy Speaker: Did the member for Kingston and The Islands wish to respond?

Mr Gerretsen: No, Mr Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Hon Mr Harnick: I will be very brief. I appreciate very much the comments of all of the members who took part in this debate. By and large, their comments were constructive, and I appreciate hearing them very much.

I'll respond, first off, to the member from Kingston, who had many good questions. He wants to know how much money will be in the fund, and we estimate there will be somewhere between $5 million and about $9 million coming into the fund every year. But as the member for London Centre indicated, there are justices of the peace and judges in this province who are reluctant to impose the victim fine surcharge, and we quite simply have to do a better job in making submissions to justices of the peace and to judges asking that they impose the fine surcharge.

In terms of his other comments, and I will deal with them generally, the member from Kingston indicated some concern about the bill not being mandatory in nature. I don't want to go off at a tangent and begin to talk about what we've had to talk about on so many occasions in this Legislature, but quite simply the cost of making this bill mandatory and changing "should" to "shall" or "must" would make the cost of this bill prohibitive. We could not have it in the province of Ontario.

I don't want to dwell on the fact that we have a huge debt in this province. It would be wonderful if we could access some of that $9 billion that we're spending in interest to pay the charges on that debt every year so that we could have more money flowing to victims, so that we wouldn't be sending the money away to pay for the ever-escalating debt.

As the member for Kingston knows full well, even this year, with all of the cost-cutting that we've done, we still will have a significant deficit as we work to balance the budget in this province. The interest on this year's debt alone, on this year's deficit alone, will be more than the cost of running our whole community college system in the province of Ontario. The public should know that, as I know the member from Kingston knows that. The difficulty is that we wish we could make this mandatory, but the cost of doing it is prohibitive.

In terms of the criticism in regard to the Evidence Act, I can only tell the member that what we have done, particularly in the section he referred to dealing with cross-examination of children as witnesses, this is already a provision in the Canada Evidence Act. It has been tried and tested in the Canada Evidence Act, and judges have a great ability to deal with the control of these proceedings so that a witness is protected and one who is an adverse party is not detrimentally affected in terms of the evidence that they wish to lead or elicit from the witness. So those comments are specifically directed to the member from Kingston.

The member for London South made some very good comments, one particularly dealing with the stalking law. As that procedure becomes more used under the Criminal Code, it may well be a very appropriate amendment to this particular bill.

Mr Speaker, in brief, those are my comments as we complete second reading, and again I'm indebted to those who took part in the debate.

The Deputy Speaker: Mr Harnick has moved second reading of Bill 23. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon Mr Harnick: Committee of the whole.

The Deputy Speaker: So ordered.

House in committee of the whole.


Consideration of Bill 5, An Act respecting Shortline Railways / Projet de loi 5, Loi concernant les chemins de fer d'intérêt local.

The Chair (Mr Bert Johnson): Are there any amendments to the bill and, if so, which sections?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I have amendments to sections 1, 10 and 22.

I move that clause (a) of the definition of "shortline railway" in section 1 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:

"(a) that has been the subject of an abandonment order, discontinuance or a conveyance in accordance with federal laws or, after that order, discontinuance or conveyance, has been discontinued or conveyed under this act."

This is to make the language of our Legislature consistent with the Canada Transportation Act, that is, the federal legislation under which the national railways will be shedding their unnecessary rail lines.

The Chair: Shall the amendment carry? Carried.

Shall section 1, as amended, stand as part of the bill? Carried.

Shall sections 2 through 9 stand as part of the bill? Carried.

Hon Mr Palladini: I move that subsections 10(12) and (13) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:

"No agreement

"(12) If the parties are unable to agree on an independent appraiser to determine net salvage value, net salvage value shall be determined by arbitration.


"(13) If the parties are unable to agree on the arbitrator or the terms of reference of the arbitration, either party may apply to a judge of the Ontario Court (General Division) for an order appointing an arbitrator and fixing the terms of arbitration.

"Application of Act

"(14) The Arbitration Act, 1991 applies to the arbitration.


"(15) If the railway line or the shortline railway company's operating interest in it is not transferred under this section, the shortline railway company may discontinue operating the railway line and, if applicable, dispose of any or all of the assets connected with the railway line.


The Chair: Shall the amendment carry? Carried.

Shall section 10, as amended, stand as part of the bill? Carried.

Shall sections 11 through 21 stand as part of the bill? Carried.

The minister has an amendment to section 22?

Hon Mr Palladini: Yes. I move that subsection 22(1) of the bill be amended by striking out "of a shortline railway inspector" in the third line and substituting "made under this act."

The Chair: Shall the amendment carry? Carried.

Shall section 22, as amended, stand as part of the bill? Carried.

Shall sections 23 through 25 stand as part of the bill? Carried.

Shall the title carry? Carried.

Shall I report the bill, as amended, to the House? Agreed.


Consideration of Bill 6, An Act to amend the Corporations Information Act / Projet de loi 6, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les renseignements exigés des personnes morales.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I have amendments to subsection 1(2) of the bill and will seek unanimous consent to add sections 1.1 and 1.2 to the bill after I've dealt with subsection 1(2).

I move that subsection 3.1(1), (2) and (3) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:

"Annual return

"3.1 (1) Every corporation, other than a corporation without share capital or a corporation of a class exempted by the regulations, shall file a return each year with the minister by delivering it to the Minister of Finance.


"(1.1) Instead of delivering a return under subsection (1) to the Minister of Finance, a corporation may deliver the return to the minister if,

"(a) there has been no change in the information required to be included in the return since the time that the corporation last filed a return or a notice under this act; and

"(b) the filing is made in the prescribed manner.

"Corporation without share capital

"(1.2) A corporation without share capital shall file a return each year with the minister in the prescribed manner by delivering it to the minister on the anniversary of the date of its incorporation or amalgamation, whichever is later, or within 60 days after the anniversary.

"Time of delivery

"(2) A corporation that is not required to deliver a tax return under section 75 of the Corporations Tax Act shall deliver the return mentioned in subsection (1) within six months of its financial year-end.

"Same, tax return

"(3) A corporation that is required to deliver a tax return under section 75 of the Corporations Tax Act shall,

"(a) deliver the return mentioned in subsection (1), together with its tax return for its last completed taxation year, within the time period for delivery of the tax return; or

"(b) deliver the return mentioned in subsection (1) within the time period for delivery of the tax return, if it delivers a return to the minister under subsection (1.1)."

As I mentioned on second reading debate, a committee comprising my ministry and the Ministry of Finance has determined that the best way to file these returns is to have the Ministry of Finance gather the returns, save and except for non-profit corporations and for corporations which want to file by electronic means, and they will be able to do that through my ministry. It doesn't change the thrust of the act but makes these changes to make the administration much easier.

The Chair (Mr Bert Johnson): Shall the amendment carry? Carried.

Shall section 1, as amended, carry? Carried.

Hon Mr Sterling: I move that subsection 3.1(5) of the act, as set out in subsection 1(2) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:


"(5) A return filed under this section shall set out the prescribed information for the corporation as of the date of delivery under this section."

This allows the annual returns to be filed by electronic means if there are no changes to the information.

The Chair: Shall the amendment carry? Carried.

Shall section 1, as amended, carry? Carried.

Section 1.1 and section 1.2: These amendments are out of order since they seek to amend sections of the act that are not open in the bill.

Hon Mr Sterling: Mr Chairman, I would seek unanimous consent in order to put these in the bill. What the amendments do is incorporate into other parts of the Corporations Information Act references to the sections that we are amending by Bill 6.

The Chair: Do we have consent?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): No.

Hon Mr Sterling: Well, I'll explain it again, and I beg your indulgence, Mr Chairman.

Mr Gerretsen: This is not getting third reading of Bill 26, is it?

Hon Mr Sterling: No, it isn't. I move that the bill be amended by adding the following section:

"1.1 (1) Subsection 4(2) of the act, as re-enacted by the Statutes of Ontario, 1994, chapter 17, section 36, is amended by striking out `subsection 2(1), 3(1) or 3.1(1)' in the fourth line and substituting `subsection 2(1) or 3(1) or section 3.1.'

"(2) Subsection 4(3) of the act, as re-enacted by the Statutes of Ontario, 1994, chapter 17, section 36, is repealed and the following substituted:

"Content of notice

"(3) A notice filed under this section shall set out the prescribed information."

The Chair: Shall the amendment carry? Carried.

Shall section 1.1 stand as part of the bill? Carried.

Hon Mr Sterling: Mr Chairman, I have the other amendment that was agreed to be introduced.

I move that the bill be amended by adding the following section:

"1.2 (1) Subsection 5(1) of the act, as re-enacted by the Statutes of Ontario, 1994, chapter 17, section 36, is amended by striking out `subsection 2(1), 3(1) or 3.1(1)' in the first and second lines and substituting `subsection 2(1) or 3(1) or section 3.1.'

"(2) Subsection 5(2) of the act, as re-enacted by the Statutes of Ontario, 1994, chapter 17, section 36, is repealed and the following substituted:

"Record and examination

"(2) A corporation shall maintain an up-to-date paper or electronic record of the prescribed information set out in returns and notices that it has filed under this act and make the record available for examination by any shareholder, member, director, officer or creditor of the corporation during its normal business hours at its registered office or principal place of business in Ontario."

The Chair: Shall the amendment carry? Carried.

Shall section 1.2 stand as part of the bill? Agreed.

Shall the title of the bill carry? Agreed.

Shall I report the bill, as amended, to the House? Agreed.



Consideration of Bill 23, An Act respecting Victims of Crime / Projet de loi 23, Loi concernant les victimes d'actes criminels.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Mr Chair, I have amendments to certain sections of Bill 23. Shall I move those amendments?

The Chair (Mr Bert Johnson): Would you just list the sections you are amending.

Hon Mr Harnick: I will be amending subsection 2(1) of the bill, paragraph 2, subparagraph xi.1.

I will be amending subsection 2(1) of the bill, paragraph 3 and paragraph 3.1.

I will be moving that subsection 2(3) of the bill be struck out and be amended.

That is the extent of the amendments.

The Chair: Shall section 1 stand as part of the bill? Agreed.

The minister has amendments to subsection 2(1).

Hon Mr Harnick: I move that paragraph 2 of subsection 2(1) of the bill be amended by adding the following subparagraph:

"xi.1 any disposition made under section 672.54 or 672.58 of the Criminal Code (Canada) in respect of an accused who is found unfit to stand trial or who is found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder."

I have no comments, Mr Chair, but I do have another amendment to subsection 2(1).

The Chair: We'll handle this one first. Shall the amendment to section 2 carry? Carried.

Hon Mr Harnick: I move that paragraph 3 of subsection 2(1) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:

"3. A victim of a prescribed crime should, if he or she so requests, be notified of,

"i. any application for release or any impending release of the convicted person, including release in accordance with a program of temporary absence, on parole or on an unescorted temporary absence pass, and

"ii. any escape of the convicted person from custody.

"3.1 If the person accused of a prescribed crime is found unfit to stand trial or is found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, the victim should, if he or she so requests, be notified of,

"i. any hearing held with respect to the accused by the review board established or designated for Ontario pursuant to subsection 672.38(1) of the Criminal Code (Canada),

"ii. any order of the review board directing the absolute or conditional discharge of the accused, and

"iii. any escape of the accused from custody."

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a question. I'm sure the Attorney General wouldn't have any objection to the word "should" being replaced by the word "shall" in this case. We're talking about something very serious here.

Hon Mr Harnick: I have indicated quite clearly during the course of debate why I'm unable to do that. As I indicated during the course of debate, I very much wish that everything in this bill could be mandatory and that every "should" could be changed to a "shall" and that every "may" could be changed to a "must."

I can't do that, quite simply because of the debt this province has and the unaffordability we would have in financing at this particular time what would become a mandatory aspect of this bill. I remind the member from Kingston of the problems we've gotten into in the last 10 years as a result of governments that spend and tax too much.

Mr Gerretsen: I don't think that has anything to do with it. Either the bill means something, what it states in the bill, that those things should happen and victims are to be warned and are to be provided protection, or we're just talking about window dressing.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): The question is, is it window dressing?

The Chair: Shall the amendment to subsection 2(1) carry? Carried.

Hon Mr Harnick: I move that subsection 2(3) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:


"(3) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,

"(a) prescribing standards, other than for police services, to be followed in giving effect to the principles set out in subsection (1);

"(b) prescribing crimes for the purposes of paragraphs 3 and 3.1 of subsection (1)."

The Chair: Shall the amendment carry? Carried.

Shall section 2, as amended, stand as part of the bill? Carried.

Shall sections 3 through 9 carry? Carried.

Shall the preamble carry? Carried.

Shall the title carry? Carried.

Shall I report the bill, as amended, to the House? Agreed.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I move that the committee rise and report.

The Chair: Is it the pleasure of the House that the committee rise and report? Agreed.

The committee of the whole House begs to report three bills with certain amendments and asks for leave to sit again.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed.



Mr Ouellette, on behalf of Mr Palladini, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 5, An Act respecting Shortline Railways / Projet de loi 5, Loi concernant les chemins de fer d'intérêt local.

Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): We would like to thank both the opposition and third parties for their notable support on this bill.

Rail, in all forms, is vital to our economy, especially in the agricultural, mining, pulp and paper, steel and chemical industries. For example, Ontario exports more than $500 million worth of grain by rail every year. Almost three quarters of all grain shipped by rail is destined for the United States. In the past few weeks our government has introduced a number of measures that clearly show our support for business and for a stronger, healthier economy. Bill 5, which will make it easier to create shortline rail companies in Ontario, is a key part of those measures. We will give business the tools it needs to maintain an important part of our transportation system to protect those thousands of jobs across the province and the communities that depend on them.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I just want to make one point about what this act is doing. We should be clear that there has long been an argument around what happens with successor rights with regard to collective agreements and how railway workers would be affected under this act. I want to put on the record that what this bill does, with the majority of the Conservative caucus, is to take away the successor rights of employees in those particular short-rail-haul areas. The government continues what they've done under Bill 7 and other bills, taking away the individual rights of people to what they've negotiated under collective bargaining agreements with their members.

I'd like to put on the record that what the government is doing here is making it possible for private sector promoters or developers to come in on this particular area and ignore the rights of workers in this province, the successor rights to the new employer. That's not the right way to go.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Mr Ouellette has moved third reading of Bill 5. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.




Mr Flaherty, on behalf of Mr Sterling, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 6, An Act to amend the Corporations Information Act \ Projet de loi 6, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les renseignements exigés des personnes morales.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I would like to take this opportunity to thank all members who have supported this bill and who recognize the value of this initiative. This legislation will simplify the way we collect corporate information in Ontario while maintaining the accuracy and integrity of the public record. This measure will reduce government inefficiencies and red tape and will result in lower administrative costs and less paperwork for business. The integrated data collection system will mean Ontario is the only province in Canada with an integrated reporting system.

The business community has told us they don't need handouts, incentives or grants to keep their doors open. All that businesses in Ontario need is for government to stop adding to the red tape and the regulatory burden that results in even more compliance costs. Streamlining the reporting process and eliminating the corporate annual filing fee, which this bill does, will allow businesses to create jobs and contribute to the growth of the economy.

In closing, I would like to encourage all members to support this bill, which will effectively remove a cumbersome and unnecessary burden which has hampered Ontario's business community. This government has committed to becoming more efficient and businesslike in its operations. This measure, which streamlines the reporting process and eliminates the nuisance $50 fee that accompanied it, gives businesses in Ontario a level of service that all Ontarians deserve and have come to expect.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): With all due respect, we have supported this bill, but to say that it helps the economy and creates jobs is really stretching the point a bit. What it does is eliminate a $50 filing fee, which we agree with. I don't think that will create one job anywhere in this province, and we should be straightforward about that.

As far as reducing red tape is concerned, you still have to file every year, so small companies and large will still have to put forward the same amount of paperwork, notwithstanding the fact that they won't have to pay $50 along with it, which we agree with. Anything the government can do to reduce red tape, create jobs and help the economy, we support, but please don't take credit for having done any great thing except taking away the $50 filing fee, which was considered by many as a tax grab.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I want to put on the record that what we have here is a good case in point of what this Conservative government is all about. On the one hand this Conservative government under Mike Harris is socking it to the working people and socking it to the unemployed in this province by cutting back their benefits, if they happen to be on welfare assistance because they're unable to find a job, by 22%. We're moving out of the non-profit housing sector. We're going to be doing away with rent control. We've already done away with many of the laws in regard to protection of workers that existed in Bill 40 under the NDP government.

In exchange, this government is telling us it doesn't want to give any handouts to the corporations of the province of Ontario. But it's interesting that what this bill does -- I think we need to be clear -- is that it eliminates the need for employers and corporations in this province to pay their filing fee when it comes to their licences.

If on the one hand you're telling welfare recipients and a number of other people in this province that you have to cut their benefits and their assistance to balance the budget, I find it highly hypocritical of this government to give a cut in what the most wealthy corporations in this province pay, which can well afford the minimal charges that were charged under this act as passed under the New Democratic government.

I would say this is an indication of what this government is all about. It's about giving a hand up to those people who can most afford it and stepping on the heads of those people who can least afford it and driving them into the ground. Hopefully, after four years, they'll be able to come back up again.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The provision of this bill is something which was called for by the official opposition in the last Legislative Assembly session, previous to the election. It's not so much the $50 itself as the inconvenience of going through the process, particularly for many small businesses and, interestingly enough, some volunteer organizations out there which are complaining of this. What was happening was that some that had either ignored the provision or didn't understand the provision or perhaps were not receiving the instruction because it was going to a wrong address or a different person were caught in a situation where there would be a significant penalty for not filing and for not providing this fee.

One always has to look at whether it is worth it for government to go through this process of collecting this fee. I understand in some cases it was for recordkeeping purposes so that the government would have this information on hand, but on balance it seems to me that it is reasonable that this legislation pass so we can get rid of what is essentially a nuisance for people.

Again, $50 often is not going to break anybody, but you have to look at the fact that it's yet another intrusion, in this case perhaps unnecessary, on the operation of business. There are some intrusions that are justified. I think one has to be very careful to determine which are justified, which serve a useful purpose and which do not. On balance, I think the removal of the $50 filing fee is probably worthwhile and something business will greet with some degree of enthusiasm.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I'd just like to add one comment to those I made earlier about this bill. I think it's the right thing to do, as well.

I have a bit of a different view from my colleague here. To refer to it as a nuisance, which is basically what the member for Durham Centre did -- if we call this $50 fee a nuisance, what about the $2 prescription fee people have to pay on their drugs now if they're involved in the Ontario drug benefit plan? If you regard $50 as a nuisance, certainly the $2 involved for those people is a nuisance as well.

Mr Crozier: You're agreeing with him. If this is a nuisance, then $2 is a nuisance.

Mr Gerretsen: I always agree with my colleague from St Catharines. He's a very wise and able and brilliant individual, and one of these days he's going to get the MRI for St Catharines. I just know it. The government will see the wisdom of that and give him the MRI for St Catharines.

There's just one other comment I should make. I'm probably guilty of this myself at least on one occasion; that is, the rhetoric in this House. We've heard the government charge the opposition with using nothing but rhetoric about this, that or the other thing. I think the member who made the speech on Bill 6 on behalf of the government is guilty of exactly the same thing. To suggest that the fact that this $50 filing fee will no longer be charged is somehow going to improve the economy of this province is outrageous and certainly stretching it. If they could tone down their rhetoric, I will gladly reduce my rhetoric as well.

There's just one final point I want to make, that there is a cost involved in filing all these returns. The ministry people do get paid, so to suggest that there's no cost involved is not correct.

Mr Flaherty: I listened with care to the debate on second reading of Bill 6. In that debate, the member for Kingston and The Islands indicated that the government didn't go far enough and shouldn't make corporations file at all unless the directors change. That's the Liberal member for Kingston and The Islands, the member opposite. The NDP member for London Centre said we should keep the law as it is and make businesses pay more.

These are the two extreme views, of course. Our government, as the government, has to find the workable balance, which I believe we have done with Bill 6. We've accomplished the goal of moderation. This is further evidence, of course, that we are a government of the moderate centre, with a majority of support.

Mr Bisson: I'm going to try to do this without any response at the end. I want to clarify what the position of the New Democratic Party is.

While in government, we brought this initiative forward to make corporations pay their filing fee because we thought it was important that corporations in this province pay their fair share and pay their way when it comes to the cost of administering the registry system and all other fees in the province.

What I tried to say to the member just shortly before was this: You need to be consistent. If you're saying the government has to cut in order to balance your budget and you go off and cut social assistance recipients, charge people user fees for their drugs etc, etc, you have to be consistent. To go to the corporations in this province, which are most able to afford to pay this $50 filing fee, is somewhat hypocritical in terms of the approach your government is taking.

The last point I'll make is that we're not saying corporations should pay more; we're just saying they should pay their fare share, as everybody else in this province has to in terms of how we balance the deficit over the longer term. For the government to give a break to the corporate side and to say to workers and others that they have to pay the whole shot is unfair and not the way to go. I would like to see some consistency on the part of the Conservative government on this issue.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Mr Flaherty has moved third reading of Bill 6. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


Mr Leach moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 20, An Act to promote economic growth and protect the environment by streamlining the land use planning and development system through amendments related to planning, development, municipal and heritage matters / Projet de loi 20, Loi visant à promouvoir la croissance économique et à protéger l'environnement en rationalisant le système d'aménagement et de mise en valeur du territoire au moyen de modifications touchant des questions relatives à l'aménagement, la mise en valeur, les municipalités et le patrimoine.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I am pleased today to move second reading of Bill 20. This bill will help the economy by cutting red tape in Ontario's land use planning system.

As the members know, the Planning Act was changed last year. Municipalities, developers and other interested parties said at the committee hearings on Bill 163 that they were concerned. They were still concerned when the bill became law last spring.

The planning system that resulted was tied up in red tape. Getting through the approval process still took too long and still cost too much. The system was supposed to let municipalities make decisions, but the municipalities tell us it doesn't. They say changes need to be made.

Bill 20 fixes the problems with Ontario's planning system. Before we drafted it, we talked to a wide range of groups. We talked to the groups that represent municipalities, we talked to groups that represent environmentalists, and we also talked to groups that represent developers.

We drafted the legislation that does three important things. First, it creates a faster, cheaper, more understandable system, a system guided by clear, concise policies dealing only with issues that are really important to the province. Second, it lets municipalities make local planning decisions, since they are the people who best understand local circumstances. Third, it protects the environment while clearing away obstacles to growth.

These goals are reflected in Bill 20, and let me give you some examples. Planning decisions will no longer have to be "consistent with" provincial policy statements. We're going back to the requirement that decision-makers shall "have regard to" provincial policies. This will let local decision-makers meet local needs while following provincial policies.

We will cut the time frames. A simple official planning amendment won't take the current 405 days. We will also ease notice requirements.

Equally as important, we will make the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing the one provincial ministry that can appeal planning decisions to the Ontario Municipal Board. For the first time, the province will speak with one voice at the OMB. This should mean fewer appeals as provincial concerns are identified and dealt with earlier in the process.

Over time, most provincial planning approvals will be eliminated. For example, approval authorities may exempt a municipality from an official plan approval. In that case, council's decision to adopt an official plan or amendment would be final, subject only to OMB appeal.

This will reduce overlap of responsibilities. This will allow the province to focus its limited resources. We'll develop a policy to lead planning. We will review and provide input on documents up front, and we'll help educate and train those involved in planning.


In addition, more municipalities will be given approval authority. For example, counties with new official plans, adopted under the new system, will be able to approve lower-tier official plans. We're also giving a number of counties new powers to approve subdivisions. Regional governments already have these powers. Provincial review of these documents is an unnecessary duplication.

Some people have suggested that this is downloading. On the contrary, municipalities have been asking for more authority to make development decisions. In fact, many are already making such decisions, and these new measures will cut out the overlap.

Bill Mickle, who was president of AMO last year, wrote me a letter in the summer. He said Bill 63 was "an unwarranted intrusion into the traditional authority of local government with regard to planning." He went on to propose a number of changes. These changes are reflected in the bill we're considering today.

As the members know, the provincial policies that guide planning under the existing system and the new system are not actually part of the legislation, yet they are an important part of the planning system. While this bill deals with process, the policies provide the direction. The policies in place are cumbersome. They deal with many issues that really should be decided locally.

We have reviewed the policies. Soon we will release a new draft policy statement for consultation. It will provide clear, concise direction and it will deal only with issues that really are important to the province. It will focus on results rather than on process. The new policy statements will protect the environment, but municipalities will be able to make local decisions that reflect local needs.

The government will consult on the new policies with all of the major groups interested in planning. Others may obtain copies of the policy statement directly from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, or they can get one through the Environmental Bill of Rights registry. They are all invited to send their comments within 60 days to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. We expect to have the policy statement finalized next spring so the whole system can come into effect in the late spring. The 600-plus pages of guidelines produced by the former government will also be reviewed, and they'll be made a lot shorter.

Bill 20 includes a couple of other sections not strictly related to the planning process, but they do have an impact on development.

One deals with apartments in houses. This legislation gives back to the municipalities the authority to decide where apartments can be added to houses. The last government, as part of its Residents' Rights Act, took this power away. They took from municipalities the authority to plan local neighbourhoods by forcing them to allow second units in houses.

Most municipalities did not like Bill 120. They said the law took the decision-making out of their hands and it didn't give them the tools to make sure second units were safe.

Bill 20 will give power back to the municipalities. They'll be able to use official plans, zoning bylaws, site plan agreements and plans of subdivision to control where houses with two units will be allowed.

Municipalities will also be able to set up a registration system for apartments in houses. This will make it easier to enforce safety standards for houses with two units. For example, a municipality will be able to require an inspection as part of its registration program. However, even if a municipality chooses not to set up a registration system, current safety standards will still apply. Existing two-unit houses will have to meet fire code standards by July 1996.

This new legislation repeals the apartments-in-houses provision of the Residents' Rights Act, but it also grandfathers units that were put in under that legislation. This means second units that existed legally on November 16, 1995, will still be allowed. This will also apply where a building permit or a change-of-use permit for the second unit was issued prior to November 16, 1995, as long as that permit has not been revoked.

This legislation today does not affect two other parts of the old Bill 120 which concern garden suites and care homes.

Another part of this bill deals with the Development Charges Act. Development charges add to the high cost of housing. In fact, the Urban Development Institute says a development charge now adds between $15,000 to $20,000 to the cost of an average single-family home in the greater Toronto area.

This government will review the Development Charges Act, and we will talk to key stakeholders about focusing development charges more on hard services. We intend to introduce a new Development Charges Act next year.

I know some municipalities have bylaws that will be expiring soon, and we will let municipalities extend these bylaws until the new act comes into effect.

Municipalities can lower their charges, but they cannot bring in new ones or increase their existing charges. Any increases after November 16, when the bill was given first reading, will need my approval as minister. It would have to be a pretty special case for me to give that approval. One example might be where a major development is ready to go but can't go ahead without a new or increased development charge in place.

This legislation will also make municipalities more accountable. The way it is now, treasurers must present a summary report of development charges accounts to council each year. This bill proposes that treasurers keep records of separate reserve funds for each service contained in the development charge bylaw. Also, treasurers must send to me, as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, a copy of the report within 60 days of it being presented to council.

This is a very important bill for this province. A streamlined process will mean faster decisions. Construction will be able to proceed, creating jobs and economic activity. That will cut the cost of development. Developers won't have to sit on valuable land, paying high carrying costs while waiting years for a decision.

Planning and development decisions will be made by those closest to the community. Provincial interests will be protected by the policy statement and through early involvement by provincial staff in the development of municipal planning documents.

Bill 20 represents a new era in provincial-municipal relations. The province knows municipalities will make the right decisions for their communities. We don't need to be continually looking over their shoulders.

The former government's Bill 163 was passed just about a year ago. At the time, the member for Renfrew North was quoted in a Canadian Press story that appeared in papers across the province. He said: "Bill 163 is a Trojan Horse pregnant with much difficulty and great deception. It's full of policy statements that are going to be enormously restrictive and controversial." I couldn't agree more.

Well, this is a horse of a different colour, and I'm pleased to say that we're fixing these things. The revised policy statement will recognize the diversity and the needs of municipalities, and it will ensure that good development projects can move quickly while the environment is still protected.

Some people have suggested that this government is proposing an anything goes system where the only goal is to get things built. Nothing could be further from the truth. We're not opposed to good planning, we're opposed to slow planning, inefficient planning, and we're against a planning approval system that discourages any kind of development because it can't say yes or no in a reasonable period of time.

And we're not backing off on environmental protection. As the Premier has said, we can have the toughest environmental regulations in North America, but why does it have to take three years to say no? That has to change.

The planning process will still include tough environmental protection measures. The Planning Act will still require a full review of the environmental impact of a development. The policy statement will protect provincial interests.

The goal here is simply to put in place a system that delivers good planning -- good decisions -- in an efficient, cost-effective way. That's what the people of Ontario elected us to do: to bring common sense back to planning and to open Ontario for opportunity.


Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I think the minister is absolutely right. I think we have to streamline the Planning Act. I never agreed with Bill 163, for the simple reason that I didn't think it was streamlining the process, it wasn't improving the process. But I do have a few questions of the minister.

The minister is making an amendment to 163 where it said in the Planning Act "shall have regard to," now "be consistent with" the Planning Act. Now, will the minister have the power -- and this is addressed to you, Mr Minister -- when you say "shall have regard to" instead of "be consistent with," I would like you, whenever you have a chance, to explain it to me, the responsibility of your ministry or of yourself.

The second question is the basement apartment, the second unit. I'm very much interested, Mr Minister, in finding out about the power of entry of the fire marshal, building inspectors, all of these great municipal people who don't have access to basement apartments. What will you do about illegal basement apartments, the tens of thousands of illegal basement apartments in Metro and in the Ottawa-Carleton area? What will you be doing about the power of entry for the municipal people to legalize them and bring them up to date?

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I am going to do this a little more in detail a little bit later in my opening comments on this debate, but I just want to say to the minister that, in fairness to my good friend the former Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ed Philip, Bill 163 was brought forward after an extensive consultation through the process of the Sewell commission, which did an extreme amount of work to consult across this province with people who are involved in the actual process of planning in order to make sure that in the end we have a system of planning that reflects both sides of the planning issues: not just the side of developers in regard to the wantingness on the part of developers to get the shovel in the ground and get the project going so that we can bring revenue back to our company that's building whatever project we're in charge of, but also taking a look at it from the longer-term prospect of saying to the community that we will make sure that we guard your interests when it comes to what future ramifications may be in regard to the project itself, and at the same time making sure that we don't allow urban sprawl to continue the way it has continued across this city and the rest of this country, in some cases, to the detriment of our communities.

When I hear the minister talk about what you're not opposed to is good planning, that you're in favour of -- the comment I think you said is that you're not opposed to good planning but you're in favour of a shorter time period in planning.

I don't think anybody argues that we need to be able to find a way to streamline, but when I look at this particular bill, what it really does, first of all, it does download the responsibility of making actual decisions about planning back to the local municipalities.

The danger with that is that there are a lot of municipalities out there that are very much under the influence of developers, and what you're really doing is tipping the favour in the hands of developers, to the chagrin of many people who live in those communities who will have to pay for the costs of particular development projects.

I don't see this as something that's good for the economy in the short run; I see it as something that'll cost us a whack of money in the long run.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The minister has two minutes to respond.

Hon Mr Leach: In response to my friend in the NDP, Ed Philip did do a good job. I will certainly agree that the consultation process that was carried out by the previous government was excellent. You travelled the province, you got the input from everybody. We have the advantage of having all of that input and all of those reports, all of the planning studies. We've talked to John Sewell. John did an excellent job.

It's the problem that we saw when the bill was put together that it became too cumbersome. I think that was evident by the number of development proposals that have been put through since the bill came in. Since March of last year there has been a handful. That was also, I think, recognized with the flood of applications that were made on March 27, the day prior, when developers and municipalities were trying to beat the process.

There are many, many good things in the present Bill 163, which is the reason that we didn't repeal the bill and start over. We want to take advantage of all the good work that was done, and we'll give credit where credit is due.

To my friend in the Liberal Party, "have regard to" gives more leeway to the municipalities. I think everybody in the industry -- municipalities, environmentalists and developers -- knows what that means. They know how to work with it. We think it's a more appropriate clause.

With respect to apartments, second units as a right, I think, was wrong. I think that it took away the ability from municipalities to plan and control their communities, as they should have a right to do.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): It's certainly a pleasure to have an opportunity to share some thoughts with the House this evening on Bill 20, and I think it's equally appropriate to speak on land use planning reforms when you're the elected person from London and Middlesex. Certainly over the past six or seven years we've had a period of time that's been characterized by development freezes, boundary arbitrations, annexation and the passage of new planning legislation. I'm sure my colleague from London Centre would probably concur that there's a great deal of sensitivity that still exists around the process that was followed.

That aside, the minister of the day made decisions to move on and certainly that is why we're here this evening: to talk about new reforms with respect to Bill 20.

When I reviewed the document that the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs tabled with members two weeks ago entitled Table Talks '95, I found most interesting that there was terminology reflected in that from the public -- some 1,300 individuals who were participants in the process representing agricultural and rural communities across the province -- terminology, such as "rural economic development," "regulatory burdens," "enhancing capacity of local leaders" and the endorsement of a "one-window approach" for the delivery of government services.

I really don't think there's any irony between what was identified in the minister's document and the types of things the Minister of Municipal Affairs is speaking of in Bill 20. Certainly the objective with this legislation is to create a planning system that promotes economic recovery by cutting red tape and getting rid of obstacles to growth. I think we need to pause on that for a moment, because too often we reflect on growth in a very negative context. For many small communities some growth is necessary. Under the current provisions it's very difficult for growth to be realized in our smaller and medium-sized communities.

For that reason I am very pleased to see that the minister has brought forward a complete package, a package that really addresses three components, in my mind, those being legislative changes, a review of the comprehensive policy statements and service delivery improvements.

With respect to the legislative changes, I think it's important to address the issue of local autonomy. It's particularly important to do so given the debate we've heard this week with respect to Bill 26 and the repeated concerns expressed about centralization of power and authority. I think it's important to realize that Bill 20 is all about the opposite. It's about transferring planning responsibilities to the local level of government, which I believe is a recognition of the increasing awareness that has been demonstrated by both elected officials at the local level and administration.

I myself, as a practitioner in this field, have witnessed a number of significant changes in the approach to planning by client municipalities, specifically the municipalities that I have been involved with over the last eight years. My personal observations are such that it's very evident that there's an increasing awareness of and a commitment to sound planning principles.

Secondly, I also think there is a growing sophistication in the local application of planning policies and a better understanding of the legislative framework. In reality, many municipalities already incorporate municipal planning practices which far exceed the obligations required of them statutorily. Therefore, I am confident that the knowledge base and expertise to which the minister has referred consistently in this House about our local governments is there and exists already and that they will easily be able to accommodate the responsibilities handed to them.


The second part that I feel is important, and the minister alluded to this, is certainly the review of the policy statements and guidelines, which is a process that I strongly support. I believe strongly that refinement is very necessary, and particularly so for the associated guideline documents.

I would also like to add, and this is as much directed at the minister as anyone else, that following the review process, I think it's very important that the government take every step to ensure that provincial interpretation of policy statements is consistent from region to region and that the discrepancies which do occur presently are mitigated.

The third part that I just briefly want to address as well -- and certainly this is, in my mind, a critical component of the bill -- is the improvement to the administrative changes that the minister has spoken of in his deliberations. I think this brings the package full circle and makes it somewhat complete, because, as government, we can do all that we want with respect to legislative changes and policy changes, but we also have to assess the procedural or administrative requirements that will deliver on those policy changes.

With that, I'm referring to the one-window approach to plan review and the one-window approach to appeals. This is something certainly I know many municipal partners and those who are advisers to municipal partners strongly endorse, and in my mind it ties directly back to the feedback that the government received as a result of the Table Talks document that the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has tabled with many members and which I've already referred to.

Some 1,300 people we talked to consistently identified a one-window approach to government services as a preferred approach: one lead agency for the coordinating of planning services and one lead agency for Ontario Municipal Board appeals. I strongly believe that's a step in the right direction.

To briefly summarize I guess, in conclusion, because I know the members of the opposition wish to carry their debate on this particular bill as well, I think there's one other critical component to the bill, and that addresses as well the issue of development charges. Certainly the government's position has been clearly identified with respect to the support of development charges that address hard services only. I think as we move through that area we will see the types of variations that have occurred under the current provisions and the obvious need to tighten the current arrangements that are provided for within the legislative framework.

In my mind, this bill is not about returning to the bad old days of land use planning, as some opponents to the bill have described, but I believe, in conclusion, it's about defining, or perhaps redefining, the provincial role in land use planning, a process that I hope will not stop following the adoption of this bill. Secondly, I believe it's a process that needs to find balance between environmental concerns and the concerns of the development industry through a renewed planning system. But above all, I think the most important aspect is that the bill is about giving municipalities the local planning authority and the ability to be accountable for their decisions, a task and a responsibility that they've been asking for for some time.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments? Further debate.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I seek the permission of the House to have the Liberal Party divide its 90-minute leadoff time.

The Deputy Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the Liberal Party divides its time? Agreed.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): No, it won't be five minutes, because I've got quite a bit to say about this act, and the process that has been used as well.

I always find it interesting when a new bill like this comes forward and the old bill is attacked as to how we get to that. Of course, in the propaganda that the Conservative Party put out during the election campaign, you may well recall, it stated unequivocally that Bill 163 was going to be dismantled and was going to be annihilated and was going to be totally wiped off the books. So I'm very pleased to see the minister tonight acknowledge the fact that what he has basically done is made amendments to Bill 163, which is the position we took at that time and that we're taking at this time as well, and that is that there are many good things about Bill 163 and there are also many things that are wrong.

Let me just start off by telling you a little bit about my own involvement with planning issues over the years. I suppose it's the one issue that brought me into local government some 20 years ago. The planning process, the way in which municipalities and our cities and towns and rural areas are planned in this province, is something that is of great concern to me, especially coming from such a historic city and area where certainly planning is of extreme importance to ensure that we maintain and enhance the quality of life that we enjoy in Kingston and also the general ambience of our community. I think it's fair to say that if it had not been for good planning over the years, then a lot of the limestone buildings that we enjoy in our community probably would have been destroyed, taken down or certainly dismantled to a large extent -- and some of them were before good planning came along.

As I went along in my municipal career, however, I became more and more aware that the one thing the system -- and I'm talking about both the municipal system and the provincial system -- probably needed more than anything else was a speed-up process in which approvals of any kind, whether we're talking about Planning Act approvals or whether we're talking about any other kind of approval mechanism, can be speeded up, because time is money and the individuals who eventually end up paying for it are the consumers.

Whether we're talking about a new subdivision, whether we're talking about any kind of development whatsoever, the consumers end up paying. The people who are buying the units, who are renting the units, end up paying for the sometimes extremely long time delays that occur in the approval process. Therefore, I made it my sort of personal goal to speed the approval process up as quickly as we could at the local level, and to that extent I applaud the minister in improving the approval processes that are involved in the planning process.

It's unfortunate, though, that the one group of people that has been left out of all of the consultations, that I have not heard anything about at all during any discussion that has taken place with respect to Bill 20, and indeed with respect to the municipal sections in Bill 26 as well -- we've always sort of talked about what the municipalities want and what their rights are, and I'm a great believer in the municipal process. I believe that government as close to the people as we can possibly bring it is the best kind of government. And we talk of course about our own rights as the province, what our rights and obligations are.

But the one group that has been totally left out of this is the public, the people who we all serve and who elect us to no matter what level of government we're elected to. It's very interesting that the public has certainly been left out of a lot of the matters as they relate to these new provisions of the Planning Act.

Let me just give you one little example right at the beginning, and that deals with the whole question of minor variances. We all know that minor variances are those applications that come before usually a committee of adjustment whereby a particular property doesn't meet all of the necessary zoning requirements and there are some minor changes required.

Usually, what used to be the process is that you went to a committee, notices were sent out to people within a certain radius and they would come to the meeting and they would either agree with what the applicant was proposing or they wouldn't. Once the committee had decided, then if somebody really felt strongly about the particular minor decision -- we're talking about minor variances here -- a person could appeal it to the OMB. Now, that has been completely taken out of this.


That may be good for municipalities, and I agree with the minister: The municipalities will now have the final say, unless they decide to appeal a minor variance decision a committee of adjustment has made to the OMB.

But let's just put ourselves in the position of the general public, or even the applicant, where a very minor matter, for whatever reason, is not approved either by the committee of adjustment or by the local council. That person will now have no further right of appeal. That person has been taken out of the system, on sometimes very minor matters, such as whether or not you have the right side yard requirement or front yard requirement or other various setbacks etc. What we're doing to that individual, whether it's the applicant -- in most cases it's the applicant -- is we're saying to that person, "If the committee of adjustment doesn't agree with you, or if council ultimately doesn't agree with you, you've got no further right of appeal, and the only way you can change that is through a zone change." I don't think that's very fair to the general public.

The problem with the OMB, the way I've seen it over the years, has had nothing to do so much with its decisions. There have been good members of the OMB and there have been bad members of the OMB. And when the minister first introduced his bill some four or five weeks ago, he made the point, as a matter of fact, that the speed with which applications are heard by the OMB has greatly improved, and I agree with that. I can remember situations where I, in acting on behalf of somebody or when I was involved with the municipality in Kingston, would wait sometimes for a year, a year and a half, two years, for a hearing date on some things that were quite often very minor matters.

What's going to happen in a case like this, as I've indicated before, with a minor variance, is that that appeal process is no longer there for that person.

I think if the minister really wanted to be fair, not only to municipalities but also to the general public and the applicants, what he would do is basically set up a mechanism, through the OMB, so that a person who doesn't get satisfaction from the committee of adjustment or the council itself could go to the OMB, but not be put in the main stream of hearing -- the OMB, as we all know, is involved with some major official plan amendments, it's involved in some major joint hearings, it's involved in some major development hearings etc -- but put it in a separate stream. In other words, dedicate five or six members, perhaps on a rotating basis, within the Ontario Municipal Board itself who will do for a certain period of time nothing but minor variance appeals, so that those matters can be heard in a matter of, let's say, a month after the matter is referred to them. That has been -- and I'm utterly convinced of this -- the main problem in our planning process, or at least the main problem once a decision has been made and somebody hasn't liked that particular decision, just the time delays it would take to have a matter heard.

I think there ought to be another level of appeal, because although I have the greatest faith in municipalities, I'm sure that there are situations where a particular individual with a particular minor variance application that is truly of a minor nature may not get the kind of decision that I think a reasonable, independent person standing aside from that, which is what an OMB chair would be in a case like that, would decide.

So leave the appeal there for the OMB, but make sure from an administrative viewpoint that those appeals can be heard very quickly. I am convinced in my own mind that that wouldn't take an awful lot of resources or an awful lot of manpower to implement, because I understand that only about 15% of all the matters that come before the OMB -- and this is from the minister's own staff that we had an opportunity to meet with some time ago -- 15% of all the matters that are referred to the OMB deal with minor variances. So that's the first thing that I'd like to say.

The second thing that I'd like to say deals with this other issue, and that deals with these new policy statements dealing with the environment. It's my view that it would have been fairer, in dealing with this legislation, if those policy statements had in effect been part of the package. They may have been in a different form or a different way. They obviously couldn't be within legislation because I realize it would be too difficult perhaps to change them later on, but at least the general public and the municipalities would know exactly what we're dealing with.

We don't. All we've got right now is a process document, and we've got the minister's assurances that some time in May or June, or maybe earlier in the spring, the policy statements will be forthcoming. But without the policy statements, and without knowing the extent to which they go, we really don't have any idea as to how they will affect the planning of our municipalities, because they surely form an integral part of the planning process.

Of course, the other very interesting thing is that there is a significant change in the legislation that whereas under the old act, planning had to "be consistent with" the policy statements, now they will only have to "have regard to" the policy statements. Although the difference may not be all that apparent to the layperson, let me just say that for those of us who have been involved in this and who know anything about this process, there's this very significant change.

If they're "consistent with," well, then basically the policy statements have to be followed by the municipality, whether they like it or not. If it's a matter of just "having regard to," then it's just a matter of the planning director or the planning board or the council saying, "Yes, we've looked at the policy statements and we've taken them into account, but basically we don't agree with them, and that's why we don't take them into consideration" in any planning matter.

Now, again, we're talking about only two bodies here basically. We're talking about the province here and we're talking about municipalities that apply the act. But the general public has been left out of that. The general public has been left out of that, and there's been no comment about how the general public fits into these policy statements and what their input may be. I know the minister will say, "Well, a municipality can hold public hearings, can hold a public meeting," etc, etc. But that isn't necessarily so, or that's the way it appears to me, in any event.

The other significant change, of course, deals with the whole area of the Development Charges Act. I can remember, in my days with AMO back in the mid-1980s, that this was always a matter of great concerns.

What this basically means to the general public that may be viewing this is that a developer, in developing a piece of property or in developing a subdivision, can be charged for certain costs that are associated not only with developing that specific subdivision but also with respect to the so-called soft services, such as the potential of a future library or some of the other services that may not be a hard service for that particular municipality, and there were always debates as to what it should or should not include.


What of course it always basically boils down to is that if you don't provide for any of the soft services in the Development Charges Act, then the only way those soft services can be paid for is by the general taxpayer in that municipality. That being said, the developer doesn't pay for it; he develops his 200- or 300-lot subdivision, but the general taxpayer picks up the entire amount. What it means, I suppose, is that the developer initially puts out less money, obviously, and the general taxpayer picks up the amount of money that may be required for that.

Now, what the minister has done, and it really runs totally contrary to what he's been talking about in this House over the last --

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): Do you agree with this bill or don't you?

Mr Gerretsen: Do I agree with the bill? I agree with certain sections of the bill, but I certainly don't agree with the entire bill.

Mr Murdoch: You must have, as a municipal politician. You must.

Mr Gerretsen: Absolutely not. And I'm glad to see that the member has awoken and is taking a keen interest in this, because it's too bad that in a debate on a subject-matter that's as important as this -- and I know it's not parliamentary to refer to the absence of the members in the House for whatever reason, and I certainly don't intend to do that -- but it is unfortunate that a bill of this high a significance in the province would come at this late stage in a session like this. It would have been, I think, much better if it had come either earlier or if it had waited until the spring.

Because, Mr Minister, I do not agree with you at all that the reason why there have only been a handful of applications is because of the adverse effects of Bill 163. The reason why there's only been a handful of applications across the province, quite frankly, is because of the kind of economy that we've lived in, and perhaps in the fact that the approval processes that are involved both at the municipal and at the provincial level have taken so long. That's the real reason, probably. I really have no idea how many subdivisions or developments have actually been approved under Bill 163, but I don't think Bill 163 has been there long enough for us to really get a good handle on.

Mr Murdoch: I don't think there were any.

Mr Gerretsen: There haven't been any. No, because it's only been seven or eight months, and we all know the approval time probably takes two or three or five years.

But getting back to the Development Charges Act, I honestly don't understand why the minister, who has spoken of autonomy -- you know, this was sort of the tradeoff at the municipalities. I can see it now, and it made for good politics, and I've got to congratulate the government on that respect. They basically took their grants away from municipalities, halved them in a matter of two years, and said, "But we're finally giving you a lot of the autonomy that you're seeking."

Mr Murdoch: And you wouldn't have done that? You're telling me you wouldn't have done that in the red book?

Mr Gerretsen: Oh sure, sure.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order, please. Take your seat. The member for Grey, you will have ample opportunity in an hour and 11 minutes for questions and comments. In the meantime, I would ask you just to refrain from heckling.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

He's talked about autonomy, he's taken money away from municipalities, and he's also said, "We know you're not going to increase taxes," yet he's giving them an awful lot more opportunities to tax more and have all sorts of direct taxes in Bill 26 that we've hear a lot about over the last couple of days.

But the problem, Mr Minister, is this: If you want to give municipalities autonomy, the way you've stated at AMO etc -- why have you felt it necessary, under the Development Charges Act, under these new amendments you've brought in, that municipalities cannot pass a new, more stringent Development Charges Act than what they currently have in place? I just cannot understand that.

Hon Mr Leach: They can.

Mr Gerretsen: No, what they can do is pass a law which extends whatever law is in effect right now; they cannot make it more stringent unless they get your approval. If you trust municipalities so much, give them the power to do whatever they want with respect to the Development Charges Act. They are, after all, your full partners in government, as you've said. "Give them all the powers they need, and they'll do the right thing." You've said that three or four times in the House to questions that have been raised the last few days, that they will do the right thing. So why do you limit them to in effect only extending the existing Development Charges Act?

Hon Mr Leach: Only while the act's being repealed.

Mr Gerretsen: Only while the act's being repealed. Then why didn't you bring that act forward at exactly the same time as you brought the new provisions to the Planning Act. It is just too inconsistent. It's too inconsistent, and that's all I'll have to say about that.

Mr Murdoch: You were just complaining that we were too quick. You can't have it both ways.

Mr Gerretsen: I'm certainly pleased that the member seems to be in a lively mood this evening and just keeps going. That's very nice to see.

Mr Murdoch: I've got to keep you on track.

Mr Gerretsen: I try to keep on track as much as I can.

The other interesting situation deals with the new rules for apartments. I know that in the province of Ontario, prior to the NDP law of some two years ago which legalized a lot of the basement apartments, we had a real problem, not only in Metro Toronto, not only in Ottawa. We had a real problem in a place like Kingston as well, where we had dozens upon dozens of illegal basement apartments that had, in many cases, existed for a long time. For years, we didn't know what to do with it at the municipal level. What do you do from a practical viewpoint? Let's deal with it from a practical viewpoint.

There've been people living in an apartment. They may be living in a single-family area, they were not legal non-conforming uses, so what do you do with them? The municipality had one of two choices. You could kick them out and put all these people out in the street, especially at a time when there wasn't enough housing, and you may well recall we were in that situation not too long ago. So the government took what I believed was a very reasonable position at the time and said: "Look, we've got to legalize the situation. We've got these hundreds of thousands of illegal apartments in this province and we've got to legalize them."

Mr Murdoch: Tell us what you did.

Mr Gerretsen: Just a minute, now. Now the minister is saying, "We're going to make those units legal, because they were legalized under the old act." That's fair enough. They should be grandfathered, I agree. But we're going to allow municipalities the right not to allow these apartments to be created in the future.

What I find very inconsistent about the Conservative approach to that is that you are the party of free enterprise. You are the party that would just love to have government go away so people can do their own thing. You are the party of property rights. Mr Jackson came to Kingston and gave the most thunderous speech I've ever heard to the Kingston and Area Real Estate Association two or three years ago about property rights. If you want to be consistent and you want to be all in favour of property rights, why are you now allowing municipalities to take those property rights away from the single-family home owner who wants to create an apartment in his building?

All I'm saying is that if you want to be consistent and if you truly believe property rights are a person's own domain etc, then stay away from it. If they want to build a second unit in their house, why stop them? It seems to be very much against the property rights values you espouse.

Mr Murdoch: Did you agree with the NDP bill?

Mr Gerretsen: I certainly agreed with the notion that something had to be done in this province. The municipalities had been struggling with this problem for years and years on a non-partisan basis. We had all these thousands of apartment units that were illegal at the time, and something had to happen. You either allowed people to flout the law when we all knew that these apartments existed all over the place, or you legitimized them, or you shut them down. The way that was taken at that time was the most reasonable way, as far as I'm concerned: to legitimize the situation where otherwise thousands of families would have been involved. Obviously the government agrees with that as well, because you're not going to outlaw them, and I think that's the right thing.

But if you want to be consistent with your own position in terms of property rights, why did you find it necessary to put in an amendment which would allow municipalities to no longer allow these basement apartments to be built? That, to me, is totally inconsistent. I know why you're doing this. You have been lobbied by an awful lot of single-family home owners, and municipalities on behalf of single-family home owners, to take that action.


Mr Murdoch: Why don't you to speak to AMO next time?

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I am trying to listen to the member's speech in regard to what he has to say on this bill, but I can't hear him, sitting next to him, with the heckling from the other side of the House.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you for your help. It's not a point of order, but it's well received.

Mr Gerretsen: I would have been happy to take up that position with AMO some time ago. You know, AMO wasn't always that consistent. Let me just tell you about a very interesting situation that I well remember, and I think the record will bear me out.

Mr Murdoch: We all remember when you were president.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Grey, you are disturbing the peace, honestly. You should not interrupt the member for Kingston and The Islands while he has the floor. Wait for the occasion for you to ask questions or comments. In the meantime, I would ask you to refrain from heckling, please.

Mr Gerretsen: I can well remember that municipalities, through AMO, of which I was on the executive for eight years from 1980 to 1988, had been advocating for years: "We want more power, we more authority, we want more this and that. Please give it to us." Of course, the Conservative government, that met with the executive on a monthly basis, always said: "No, no, you're a nice group of people. Here, have a cookie, and here's the coffee." The member from Owen Sound even came with us to a number of those meetings, and basically nothing happened.

Then, when the Liberals came into power in 1985, they were fresh and they were eager to do something. We even had meetings with the whole cabinet, when the whole cabinet would come out and meet with the AMO board. Finally, that government had an idea.

My confrères may not like this all that much, but we're in a different position now and I'm well-known for speaking my mind. Mr Peterson had to get rid of a very difficult problem, the Sunday shopping problem. I can remember it well, the meeting at the Royal York, when he wanted to unload it on to the municipalities. I can still remember being at a board of directors' meeting -- I believe I was past president at the time -- and this thing came up: "Do we want Sunday shopping or don't we?"

Everybody, to a person, except for three people of the 88, of which I was one, said: "No, we don't want the Sunday shopping decision. That's too much of a political hot potato. Leave it with the province." My approach at that time was: "If you want Sunday shopping in Kingston or Windsor or Niagara Falls or Sault Ste Marie or downtown Toronto, that's a local decision. That's where it belongs, that's where it should go." Of course it went there and eventually all the municipalities made their own decision and now Sunday shopping is no longer an issue with the vast majority of people in this province. It's interesting to note that a lot of the people -- not all of them but a fair number -- who were totally opposed to Sunday shopping I see now shopping on Sundays. In other words, what was a major issue then is no longer an issue.

The thing was that the municipalities, that were always looking for more authority and more autonomy, didn't want that one at the time because it was too much of a political hot potato. I realize full well that if municipalities want to be consistent, they should take the good with the bad. But the problem is that the ministry and the government are inconsistent as well, because they are preaching autonomy on one side, and on the other side they're in effect taking powers away from them.

In that regard, I would just ask the minister once again to review those sections of Bill 26 that deal with restructuring and with setting up a commission and the huge powers he has given to himself to be able to impose by way of regulation on a commission he sets up, where basically a municipality will be totally unable to act on anything whatsoever or with respect to any act whatsoever unless they have the approval of the minister.

Hon Mr Leach: John, your nose is going to grow.

Mr Gerretsen: Well, it's there. I'm sure you've read the bill since yesterday, and I'm very pleased to see that.

Mr Murdoch: Are you getting off Sunday shopping now?

Mr Gerretsen: No, I'm not getting on Sunday shopping. I keep hearing an echo in this place, Mr Speaker. I don't know where it's coming from.

There's another area that I find interesting and, from an administrative viewpoint, the right way to go; that is, to make the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing the lead ministry, the ministry through which all the various other ministries' comments on developments etc are funnelled. I think that's a good idea.

The problem, though, is how does the public get hold of the various inputs from the other ministries that are funnelled through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing? Right now they are quite readily available. Once it becomes completely an internal process, I'm not sure what mechanism is in place so the general public -- not necessarily the municipalities; they're going to get the input and get all the reports from the various ministries, no doubt. But how is the general public going to get access, for example, to environmental reports done through the Ministry of Environment and Energy and funnelled to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing?

Hon Mr Leach: Just ask.

Mr Gerretsen: The minister says, "Just ask for it." Or somebody said, "Just ask for it," Mr Speaker.

Mr Murdoch: You're hearing things.

Mr Gerretsen: I am hearing things.

It may be so, and undoubtedly while the minister is the minister -- of course we don't know how long it's going to be, but while he is the minister -- I have his word now on the record that all we have to do is ask for those records.

But now what happens? The problem is that with any law we pass here, it doesn't just deal with the present minister and his goodwill towards municipalities, but who follows him or what government may follow him? Unless it's actually written in the act that the public will have access to the records and the information funnelled by the other ministries, after comments, to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, we have absolutely no assurance that will actually happen.

Mr Murdoch: I'm going for a walk. It's too boring in here.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you very much. I suppose there is a rule against locking the door to certain members, is there, Mr Speaker? Anyway, I'm glad to see that the minister has a sense of humour and that he can laugh about this, because I'm sure some other people might think this is pretty sad.

It's very interesting, just dealing with how the general public is involved in this, that public meetings no longer are a requirement with respect to land severances. I don't understand why that is so.

I know what the minister will say with respect to all of these items, that it has been done to speed up the process. I know there's a requirement in some cases that people have to appeal within 20 days rather than 30 days etc, and sure, that helps a little, but that's not where the delays are. Let's be practical about this. Under the act where it says, "Municipalities shall deal with an application within a month," from a practical viewpoint, they don't deal with it within a month; they can't handle it within a month.

The real, practical problem with respect to this is the fact that to get an answer back, whether it's from the ministry or from the local municipality etc, quite often simply takes too long. The process has to be speeded up, not so much with legislation but administratively in our municipalities and within the provincial government service. That's where the problem lies. I'm absolutely convinced of that, and I speak with 20 years' experience not only in the municipal field but also in having been involved in some of these applications on behalf of my clients from time to time.


The actual time limits are not the problem at all; it's the administrative process time limits. Let's face it, if a developer knows his application is moving along quite smoothly, he is not going to object to the fact that a ministry may take an extra two or three weeks or an extra couple of months, because doing that may very well jeopardize the approval process with respect to that application.

The real problem lies within the administrative processes of the municipalities and of the provincial government itself. I think it would be a lot better if both municipalities and the provincial government started looking at some of their internal processes, because the people who ultimately end up paying for this are the people who buy the lots, who buy the houses, who are the consumers of these services. Maybe we should take a look at our own house before we start changing the actual rules and regulations.

I'm almost to the end of my contribution.

Interjection: Thank God.

Mr Gerretsen: I see that some people may be happy about this.

I certainly think the act goes a long way in dealing with the time periods involved, in trying to speed the process up. On the other hand, I really do not think the manner in which the general public, the people out there, have been excluded -- it's all right for the minister to say, "I've spoken to AMO." AMO is a great organization, but they do not necessarily speak for all the people of the province. If all the people agreed about what was happening in each municipality, you wouldn't have any appeals whatsoever. That indicates that sometimes the people in the various municipalities don't agree with what's happening. It's unfortunate that the general public and their role in the process have to a large extent been lost.

There's one final point I wish to make. Regardless of how one feels about AMO or the local municipalities -- and I've already indicated to you that I hold most municipalities and most municipal politicians in high regard. Generally speaking, municipal politicians are the closest to the people, deal with them on day-to-day basis and have a better feel and instinct for what's going on in their communities and the wishes and longings of that community than certainly we here at the provincial level or at the federal level.

Having said that, I fear that what's happening, not only in this area but also in many other areas -- and it really deals with the ideology of the government and the direction in which it wants to head -- is that the government is abdicating its total leadership role in planning matters. There is a role for the province to play there, and there is a role for municipalities. As I indicated before, both of them should play their parts a lot quicker.

If there's one thing I've learned in politics over the years, it is that most people, when it's a negative decision about any aspect, whether it's administratively or politically, would prefer not to make a decision at all. Unfortunately, I think that's what's been happening, to a large extent, within the municipalities, for example, on development issues. Rather than telling a developer he's way off base and, "Come back with an entirely new plan," what usually happens, rather than saying no, is that matters are delayed and further negotiations take place etc. I'm a great believer in telling an individual where the municipality stands or where a government agency stands on a particular matter a lot quicker than is normally the case. To that extent, time is certainly money.

I hope the minister will think through some of these ideas I have talked about and that, undoubtedly, others will as well. There has been a basic inconsistency in approach. On the one hand, we're saying to municipalities, "You're our partners and we're giving you greater autonomy because we haven't got the moneys to give to you any more." But in some key areas the government is still keeping the powers. The best way is in this whole restructuring model I spoke about earlier under Bill 26, where the minister has kept for himself some pretty stringent powers if he wishes to impose them through regulations etc.

I say to the minister, try to be consistent in the legislation you bring forward. I don't think you are, and this act certainly isn't doing it.

Mr Bradley: I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes to the Planning Act. My views may not be precisely the same as those of some of my colleagues in the House, including some of my own colleagues in the Liberal Party. That's the great advantage of this Legislature: It does allow us an opportunity to talk about legislation that's forthcoming and whether we believe it's wise.

If one were to ask the question, "Is it desirable, where there is good development about to take place, for that development to take place in a timely and appropriate fashion?" I think most fairminded people in the province would agree that should be the case.

My concern is that very often, when people are talking about speeding up the process, what they are in fact talking about is removing some of the impediments which have been of benefit to the people of the province, not of detriment.

This bill I see as a desire on the part of the government of Ontario to remove many of the environmental controls which have been placed in this province over the last several years and to replace them with a rather wide-open system in which developers would have almost free rein to develop the province as they see fit.

I think it's there because, first of all, there's a philosophy in this government that virtually all government is evil and the less government you have, the better, because government is an intrusion into what they call the natural market forces. But government has been established as an instrument of fairness -- in its best sense it should be an instrument of fairness -- and on some occasions an instrument of redistribution of wealth.

It is also desirable that government act in a way that would allow, if not the determining of outcomes -- that is not very possible -- certainly providing equal opportunity for people in the province.

The amendments to Bill 163, which was introduced by the New Democratic Party after wide consultation across the province, in my view are designed to lighten the environmental load on those who wish to become involved in development, whether it's those at the local level in local public office or whether it is those who wish to be the developers. If I were a developer who wanted to see wide-open development, I would certainly be in favour of the Progressive Conservative Party and the legislation that's forthcoming. Probably a lot of support would have gone to the Conservative Party.


My friend Morley Kells, the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore now, used to write for the Urban Development Institute a rather interesting newsletter. Mr Kells is a very bright person, in my view, and though I disagreed with many of the things he wrote in there, I think he had a good analysis of development in Ontario and he put the case in his newsletter for those who wanted to see development take place. He often was critical of environmental controls, but he allowed for and engaged in what I would call an intelligent debate of the issues of the day. I want to commend him for that, even though I disagreed with him on a number of the issues he brought to our attention. He still provided a service in that he put those issues before the public and had them debate it. The public ultimately makes that choice and we as elected representatives I believe have an obligation to respect that choice, though an obligation at the same time to intervene where we believe it is important to intervene.

I have been a long-time advocate in my area of the preservation of prime agricultural land, and that is because in the Niagara region we have considerable prime agricultural land. It's prime for a couple of reasons. First, much of the Niagara Peninsula, although not all of it, it is class 1 farm land, and almost throughout the peninsula one of the advantages we have is climatic conditions. It is estimated that there are probably 27 or 28 more growing days or frost-free days below the escarpment than above the escarpment. This allows us to produce some products in the area that are not easily produced in other places. It's called the tender-fruit area of the province. There are some harder fruits as well, such as apples and pears, but they can be grown in other areas. We're essentially talking about those which, if exposed to frost late in the season or very early in the season, can have considerable damage. So we have a rather unique area.

Everyone thinks Canada is a large country, and we are a large country, but if you look at Canada, not much of it is really arable land. Yes, we have more arable land than a number of European countries, but much of it is a mass in the very north part which doesn't grow very much, for two reasons: (1) the soil conditions, and (2) probably more important in this case, or of at least equal importance, the climatic conditions.

So where we have prime agricultural land, where we have good soils and weather conditions or climatic conditions that permit the growth of certain products, I believe we have an obligation to preserve that land. I was disturbed today, for instance, when I heard the announcement that the government was going to sell off lands around Seaton. I know there are natural forces out there, people will tell me, but looking at Metropolitan Toronto, I've watched it expand over the years into good agricultural lands. Some of my colleagues from eastern Ontario tell me that some of the land along the 401 could not be characterized as good agricultural land and would, if economic determinants told us so, be good land for development purposes. I'm not anti-development. I simply want to see development taking place in what I consider to be under appropriate conditions.

I've always wondered why -- I haven't wondered why; I know certain economic reasons for it. If you look along the 401 to the west of Toronto, you find a lot of good agricultural land, and unfortunately we've decided to put a lot of our apples in that basket in terms of development instead of along the 401 to the east, where they have less favourable climatic conditions and less favourable topography.

That is why I think the province has a significant role to play in the preservation of these agricultural lands. This was a major issue, I recall, with the Globe and Mail in, I'm going to say, 1975, 1976, 1977. Stephen Lewis, who was then the leader of the New Democratic Party, rose in the House on many occasions to say that 35 acres an hour or something of prime agricultural land were going to development.

I think we have to be fair to differentiate between that which is prime and that which is not. I understand economic circumstances that militate in favour of development, but I find it difficult to accept, as I've said to members of this House on a number of occasions, as I drive from St Catharines to Toronto or Toronto to St Catharines, some of the development I'm seeing taking place along the Queen Elizabeth Highway.

Mississauga and Oakville and Burlington are developed, and that's accepted. They have subdivisions there. Some very attractive development has taken place; some less attractive development as well. But you often have these warehouses right along the highway. I guess it makes economic sense for those operating that business to have it right along the highway, but I must say that when I see it creeping past Hamilton and into the Niagara Peninsula, where there was prime agricultural land and where we had tender fruit growing -- and I recognize the problems, I must concede there are real problems for farmers today and that we have to save farmers if we're going to save farming -- how nice it used to be, just from an aesthetic point of view, to be able to drive into the peninsula and see that. Now all we see are these warehouses that employ 10 or 20 people, and that's nice.

If, I suppose -- and one has to understand sacrifices -- there were an 8,000-person plant being built on a site, one might still say, "I do not like the fact that the agricultural land is disappearing," but at least one could see an immediate benefit to it. When you see the kind of development taking place, listen, I know the local people like subdivision development. If you talk to the mayors of the municipalities, most -- no, I shouldn't say "most"; many municipal politicians believe that until every last centimetre of property within their city is developed they somehow haven't achieved success, that growth is automatically good for a community and that they should be trying to expand their boundaries.

When I was on St Catharines city council back in 1977, there were a few of us at that time -- and there's been a change, by the way, because many of the farmers at that time were in this battle -- trying to preserve that agricultural land, trying to restrict the growth boundaries of St Catharines at that time. You know, as municipal politicians that's usually not the way to go, that's usually not what's popular, because as municipal politicians you usually want as much territory within your boundaries as possible and as much potential for growth.

I can tell you that in the north end of St Catharines, where I reside, some of the best agricultural land was there and there were houses and subdivisions built on that. I understand the QEW was put through the northern part of the Niagara Peninsula and that this has attracted development, as have the railway lines. Nevertheless, there is land which is less attractive, in terms of its agricultural use, south of the escarpment that probably should have been developed, if development was to take place.

I look at Grimsby now. The mayor of Grimsby, I'm sure, is delighted to see the new subdivisions going up. But you know, you used to go along Highway 8 and you'd see just a beautiful territory as you went through there. I'm not a person who is necessarily enthralled with this as much as other people might be, but there was a beauty to that land as you went down Highway 8 and looked at the escarpment, which was largely undeveloped to one side, and the plush agricultural land and the trees in that area. They're putting in subdivisions now and some people will say, "Isn't that great? That's progress," and it is in some cases progress when you put in subdivisions. But who are the subdivisions for?

Because Grimsby itself is growing, because there's a new industrial operation there, a new business operation, the answer is no, those subdivisions provide cheaper housing for people who work in Toronto and perhaps other areas that are just outside of Toronto. So there's no real, net benefit to that community to be building houses and destroying this agricultural land to serve Toronto. I don't blame the people who reside there for that -- it's very legitimate that they're seeking lower-cost housing -- but here we are destroying that land for that purpose.

Now it's creeping towards Beamsville and Vineland, and as I've said before, and I will no doubt annoy my friend the mayor of Lincoln when I say it, for the life of me I cannot see why we're putting subdivisions into Beamsville and into Vineland. Last time, when the New Democrats were in power, they had pressures from people who wanted new additions to schools. I would have to go out and look at the situation and say, "Yes, indeed, it looks like you need a new addition, or certainly more portables," and nobody likes portables. But the reason that was happening was they were building new housing developments in Beamsville -- not for the people of Beamsville, but for people who resided somewhere else.


To me, there is very little benefit to a community to be a bedroom community for a large metropolitan centre such as Toronto, and that's what I fear is happening in the Niagara Peninsula. Intensification is part of that answer. I see the member for Markham is here. I have noted some interesting development that's taking place in there and in other communities as Toronto expands. It's often a difficult pressure to resist, but I really wonder, when we look at some of the land out there, if some of the land should be developed, if that should be the case. It's a philosophical difference that I certainly accept when I see that kind of irreplaceable land, because once you put the development on it, you can't take the development off and start putting agriculture back. When I see that happening, I become very concerned.

I see the member for Durham West is here, and she has within her constituency some very good agricultural land, and while a less favourable climate for agriculture than say the Niagara Peninsula, nevertheless one which is more favourable than many other areas in the province. I would lament losing a lot of the agricultural land that would be located in her area, and no doubt she finds it somewhat nice to have as well.

This bill concerns me for a variety of reasons. It may not be as drastic as some have suggested, but I think the bill is moving in the wrong direction, for a couple of reasons. First of all, there's a presumption that development in a community is of benefit to the community in terms of assessment. Dr Joseph Kushner, who has been on St Catharines city council since 1976 and is a professor of economics at Brock University -- and I should add to those of you who don't know Dr Kushner that he is in fact a small-c conservative in his approach to economics -- has put out a paper which I thought was very good, one several years back called The Effect of Urban Growth on Municipal Taxes. I recommend that to people in this House, because it will clearly demonstrate, particularly to those who know municipal politicians, that this kind of growth of assessment isn't necessarily beneficial to a community when one looks at the total cost to the community of that development.

Second, and coming out in the next edition of The Canadian Tax Journal, is another paper, called The Determinants of Municipal Expenditures in Ontario. Both of these are worthwhile reading because they debunk some of the myths that are out there, perhaps some of the understandings that people have had about the automatic benefit of development, because when a community does have residential development, for instance, there are a lot of costs that must go with that. Those costs are both what we call soft services, such as recreational services, school services, libraries and so on, and hard services, which involve such things as sewers and the provision of water and things such as garbage service and so on.

Mr Murdoch: Where would the member put everybody? Do you want everybody to live in high-rises?

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Grey-Owen Sound will come to order.

Mr Bradley: So there is some considerable cost that comes with that.

I'm not saying that there aren't some benefits; I'm saying there's an automatic presumption that this is an overriding benefit. I think if you read these papers -- keep in mind they're written by a small-c conservative economist, certainly not any wild-eyed liberal by any means, as he would tell you if you were to talk to him. They certainly would tell you that the benefits of development aren't always what they're cracked up to be.

The bill gets into a situation where it starts changing some of the items, some of the provisions of the previous legislation brought in by the New Democratic Party. Now, I didn't agree with everything the New Democratic Party did, but one of the steps I thought that was progressive on their part was the development of Bill 163. Again, there are some people in this province who don't adhere to NDP philosophy and don't necessarily always agree with their economic suggestions or some of their social policies, who will tell you that, despite that, they thought that -- and these again may be small-c urban conservatives -- Bill 163 contained the kinds of provisions which would allow us to protect some of the better things that we have in Ontario. We are now going to change, I am informed, the requirement that planning decisions be "consistent with" provincial policy statements, delete that and replace it with the former requirement that they have "regard to" provincial policies.

I think the province has an obligation to consult widely and then to develop policies for the whole province. I happen to believe that the people of Manitoulin Island have a stake as well in the Niagara Peninsula, as I have in Manitoulin Island. We're all part of one province. I'm equally proud of all parts of this province. As I do in this country consider the oil fields of Alberta and the lumber of British Columbia and some of the water resources of Quebec and so on, the fisheries at each coast, to be as much mine as a Canadian as they belong to the people who reside in that area, I look at Ontario in somewhat the same way, which is why I think it's important to develop good provincial policies.

The Ministry of the Environment, in years gone by -- I can assure you, a number of years gone by -- was a ministry that had little to say, at least little influence within government. When it clashed with Municipal Affairs or Transportation or Natural Resources, any other ministry, it was elbowed aside quickly. It was given few resources, few staff, and was unable to carry out what I felt was its legitimate obligations. I know that it is a sin today to talk about having expanded or having developed new programs. The Ministry of the Environment, from 1985 to 1990, did in fact expand, not only its mandate, but also its resources and also its influence within government. I think it was positive for the whole province that for once the Ministry of the Environment wasn't elbowed aside by some other ministry.

I requested of the Premier of the day, for instance, that the Ministry of the Environment have control over the Niagara Escarpment Commission and Niagara Escarpment Plan, which used to be under the purview of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, and that was because the mandate of the escarpment was to protect that escarpment land. I wish to give credit on this occasion, as I have in the past, to Premier Davis and to the present Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Norm Sterling, who both played a significant role in the establishment of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, because they were people who wanted to preserve what they felt was best in this province. When you talked about the term "Progressive Conservative," they genuinely wanted their party and their government to be a Progressive Conservative government. I want to commend them for taking that initiative, which I think enjoyed widespread support among the three parties in the Legislature.

I understand there are those who are opposed to it. I don't reject their views -- I'm very tolerant of the views of others -- but I think that was a major step forward and I think it's not a step forward when I see Municipal Affairs now taking control of many aspects of the government because the government wishes to speak with one voice. Listen, I had people in my own cabinet at that time who would agree with what you had said in those terms. What I thought was a good dynamic for our previous government was that you had in fact two or three different ministries unafraid to indicate what their views would be on an issue. Instead of one emerging and bossing the others around, there was a choice out there.

I watched as the Minister of Agriculture and I both fought a particular development in the province of Ontario which was, to me, very, very bad planning. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs was all for it moving forward. The person who was the developer was a very influential person who had certainly great influence over the local people in the area and was going to get his development through. It was the comments of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of the Environment which eventually made that development not a viable one in terms of government approving it, because it was detrimental according to all planning concepts.

That is not going to happen if only the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is going to have the final say, if the government speaks with one voice. Those arguments will take place, and some will say it's advantageous to have the arguments in government take place behind closed doors and then you emerge, as you do, with a caucus with one unified position. I think there's an interesting dynamic when various ministries publicly make their views known. Then the government has to make its choice, and I understand that whatever choice the government makes, it certainly has to live with.

I want, as well, to express the concern that some of my own colleagues do not agree with and some others in the House may not agree with, and that is that when you turn more and more local control over development over to local people, you place a greater pressure for development in their hands. Let's put it this way: It's much easier for developers to have influence on those at the local level, because they live in the community very often, they work with people in the community, they may belong to the same service clubs or other organizations, churches and so on, and so their ability to influence the local council towards development is far greater than it is to influence the province.


People often criticize the province. I don't necessarily always criticize the province. There are occasions when that's going to happen, when it makes policy that is consistent across Ontario. I think there's a danger in turning too much of this power over to the local people who will bend to development. Why is that going to be even more of a problem now? It's going to be more of a problem now because the provincial government, because of its economic circumstances, has made a decision not to transfer as much money to local government. Instead, it has transferred power or it has, supposedly -- I haven't seen that yet, but I may see that -- a stated intention that it wishes to turn more power over to local government.

The problem with that is these people are going to be desperate, in many cases, to get more revenue. We've had a discussion in the House about some of the potential sources of revenue. What I would want to address this evening during this bill is the fact that revenue will be a goal for many and that they will try to obtain that revenue by allowing developments they normally wouldn't allow within that community. The developments, in the long term, are not going to be good for that community, and that's why I have a great concern about that.

It says that time frames for processing applications will be shortened. In theory, that's good. There are a couple of ways of doing it. The government will reject the first. I should share with some of the members of the government, there was something called Project X that was in another ministry when I was Minister of the Environment. That's what it was labelled by, I think, some of the people in the news media and some, perhaps, in the environmental community.

Essentially it was, as I refer to it, a cell in the Ministry of Finance, and that cell was there to try to find ways of circumventing the Ministry of the Environment, in my view. Some of my colleagues suggested a conspiracy theory or paranoia setting in. I couldn't quite agree with that, because I happened to know what was going on. But essentially it was there to circumvent the Ministry of the Environment, which had grown considerably in influence.

Their view was that everything should be speeded up. Indeed it could be, but to do it appropriately you would have to have -- and this is something governments never want to hear these days -- more staff to be able to do it, to do the same job in a shorter period of time. I understood there were problems. When you have several different ministries commenting -- sometimes they didn't comment in a timely fashion -- I could understand the frustration of some who wanted legitimate and good developments to get through and who were held up. But you will buy a lot of problems if you simply bypass these various departments of government and allow developments to take place with just a glance at some of the plans and not looking into the future at some of the potential problems. I described one the other day in this House as a development which took place in Kitchener, right near an old garbage dump. They had an explosion. They had constant problems in the development because of methane gas nearby. Those kinds of developments taking place are not positive for this province.

I go back to: "The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will be identified as the only provincial ministry that can appeal a planning decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. This will ensure the province speaks with one voice on planning matters." This is the problem, that only the Ministry of Municipal Affairs will be able to do that. I think other ministries of government should be able to do that if they see fit. I think that's a good dynamic of government. It's not quite as efficient, it isn't centralized, but I think in the long run it benefits the people of this province.

It says, "A new official plan process will be implemented to allow the minister to exempt municipalities from the requirement for ministerial approval of official plans and official amendments." I don't think that's wise, again. I think if there are going to be those amendments, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs should comment, should determine whether they adhere to provincial policy or not, and then decide whether they should be able to proceed. Otherwise you have a hodgepodge of planning across this province.

The New Democrats in their legislation had a provision giving the province direct authority to prescribe the content of official plans, and that will be deleted. Again, if you want to have a consistent policy in the province you cannot delete that and still have it.

Here is something which is particularly of concern to me: "The government will review the environmental standards set out in provincial policy statements over the winter of 1995-96. The review will investigate whether the policy statements which guide Ontario's land use planning systems are clear, concise, deal only with issues that should be under the jurisdiction of the province and focus on the expected results rather than the process of achieving those results." I'm concerned when I see that happen, because I know what's happening in Ontario now.

The Ministry of Environment and Energy has been told to be more business-friendly. Well, that means only one thing when they're told to be more business-friendly: that means that you start watering down environmental requirements.

There are two sets of people who are badly affected by that: First, the general population, which must put up with the environmental problems which are always worse when you have to deal with them many years down the line than they are when you deal with them through prevention. Second, it is the companies, the corporations, the municipalities, that have already spent the money, that have already trained their employees and educated their employees, that have already put the resources into environmental improvement, who when these laws get watered down, look down the street at others who are now having an easy time of it.

If you want to see where that is happening, it's the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement, the municipal section, where I know they're being watered down.

The people complaining are not necessarily the public, because the public don't know about it yet. They're not environmental reporters, because heaven knows they're not allowed to put much in the newspapers any more because other issues have been considered to be more important. They are in fact those companies who have already spent the money on these environmental improvements, who've been good corporate citizens, who've complied with the laws of Ontario, who now watch as the Ministry of Environment and Energy allows others off the hook and thereby allows others an economic advantage, as well as an environmental disadvantage for the people of the province.

As the Minister of Environment is left with fewer staff and fewer resources, she will find -- and the government will find -- that that ministry will have less of an opportunity to carry out its appropriate mandate, a mandate which, I think if you scratch the surface, you will find the people of this province want. They're not going to list the environment as their number one issue today, because economic issues are dominating and there are other important issues out there, but once you ask them to get by those issues, they will tell you almost to a person, regardless of their political affiliation, that in fact they have a concern about the environment.

When I see the province going to review all these, there's only one reason it's going to review them and that's with a view to watering them down and weakening the environmental system in this province, and I think that would be a step backwards.

The amendments to the Development Charges Act will allow municipalities to extend existing municipal development charges bylaws indefinitely. These amendments do not affect the education development charges, and after November 16, it is stated: "New development charges bylaws or amendments to existing development charges bylaws will require the approval of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The minister's decision is final in these cases. Approval will not be required to extend the term of existing bylaws, decrease charges, place a moratorium on charges, phase in or index charges."

What I'm concerned about here is, you're going to say to municipalities: "We're giving you less money. We're going to give you more control, but you're not going to be able to get that money through these kinds of development charges." I know there's a feeling over there among some people that they should be restricted only to hard services, that is, such things as sewer and water services and road services, and that development charges should not take into account the increased burden on the municipality that comes with new schools being required, but more appropriately, I guess, if I want to be fair, in terms of strictly municipal charges, libraries, swimming pools, baseball fields, hockey arenas and so on. Yet all of those soft services are required when you have new development. What we're in effect saying is that that cost will be assumed by all of the people of a community, even though those people have very often already paid for those through their taxes and through the original development charges that may have been levied on their houses.


So I think to say to the municipalities that you're going to get less in the way of transfer payments, that you're going to get less for transit, you're going to get less for a variety of other operations -- library service, for instance -- but you cannot -- at least, we're going frown upon you having development charges which would apply to soft services, I don't think is fair to them and I don't think is appropriate, although I know there are some who disagree.

I see two of my former colleagues from the Ontario Legislature, who were in the New Democratic Party, this evening, Mr Ron Hansen, the member for Lincoln in years gone by, and Ms Christel Haeck, who was the member for St Catharines-Brock, and who no doubt are enjoying my speech this evening in the Legislature.

I want to talk as well about the seven new provincial policy statements that were to be implemented in the official plans to guide people in development decisions. They took into account the following areas: the natural heritage, environmental protection and hazard policies, economic, community development and infrastructure policies, housing policies, agricultural land policies, conservation policies, and interpretation and implementation. Generally the new policy statements were more restrictive against development and vague.

There's one reason why you want to have some consistency, I think, in the province, and that is, you don't want to get into the American system. Thank goodness, we don't have this. I heard somebody saying we should have it, and I think it would be disastrous, and that is, in the United States, where you can compete with one another. The way you compete in the United States -- in fact, they give money or give tax breaks to people community to community. In fairness to the government, I've not heard the Minister of Municipal Affairs or any other member of the government talk about this and I know that they know the evils or the disadvantages in the United States of that system which allows competition. The minister is nodding in agreement, or nodding off at my speech, one of the two. I can understand the latter this evening. But I hope we don't get into that system and I certainly place that before the members of the Legislature. I've heard nothing that the government would say which would indicate that would happen. In fact, the government is moving in the opposite direction. It has made a decision not to provide assistance to businesses and corporations on a direct basis, and that is a policy decision which some may hail in this province and would be somewhat consistent with many of the other things done. So I would give the government credit for consistency in that regard.

I hope we don't get to that system, but let me point out that if we allow these kinds of variations from the provincial policy statements locally, it could have a bit of a similar effect, where some would say: "Let's go to community X because community X has lower environmental standards. They'll look the other way if we do this or that, whereas community Y tends to be more in line with the provincial policy statements or what the province has stated it wants." That again can happen and that again can be a problem.

I want to deal with the issue of land severances in the Niagara region, because land severances are, in my view, the death by a thousand cuts that can happen. The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is now considering, I guess, a program put forward by the regional government in Niagara which would allow what they call economic severances. I know there are people who disagree with me; there are people who want to meet with me to convince me that I am wrong, and I appreciate their point of view. Again, I don't discount the points of view of others, but I happen to believe that the severance route is the route to long-term ruination, unless you really want to see urban development take place, unless there's a policy decision to do so. To allow these severances simply allows for a conflict.

Some of the rural members will know exactly what I'm talking about when I talk about urban people who want to move out into the countryside. And it is nice out there because it's supposedly a little quieter. You don't have the rush of traffic. It's supposed to give you peace of mind when you're out there, and it usually does, until, in our area, you hear a bird-banger. A bird-banger, by the way, is a machine which is supposed to scare away birds from the fruit trees in the area, and it makes a lot of noise. Or there are agricultural vehicles which make a lot of noise. There is dust. There are odours. You can't have a pig farm without having odours or a chicken farm without having odours. And so the people move out there and then they start complaining about the farmers and say, "Isn't this awful," and they phone the Ministry of Environment and Energy, they phone the local councillors, they phone everyone to complain about a circumstance that was there, thank you, before they arrived. They wanted the country estate, but they don't want the other conditions which exist in the country. That's why I think it's unwise to allow those kinds of severances for that reason.

There's a second reason, and that is because they demand, they believe legitimately, urban services once they get out there. "It's nice to have that country setting, but can I please have street lights? Can I please have sewer and water? Can I please have my roads up to the conditions the roads are in the other parts of the municipality," and that is the urban parts.

So I think if the government were to allow that severance policy to proceed, a very liberal -- small-l liberal -- severance policy to proceed, I think it would be unwise. I have pleaded with the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs not to do that.

Now, does that mean we should abandon the farmers? The answer is no. Again, there are a lot of agricultural people here. One of the reasons, I think one of the legitimate complaints, and when we get into the planning process, that farmers will put forward when you're asking them to retain their land and agricultural settings is that we don't pay for the food. In North America we don't want to pay the farmer what the farmer should get for the food. Very often this is the case. It's a chancy business. It is subject to climatic conditions. It's subject to natural disasters of all sorts. I believe there is an opportunity for the government of Ontario to assist the farming community in marketing our products.

We've got excellent products all across this province and with the appropriate marketing I think frankly, with pressure that some of us as individuals can put on the major retailers to have Canadian product and to advertise Canadian product within their stores, that we can be very helpful in that regard. In the Niagara Peninsula, I think we can retail at the farm gate a lot of the products that are there and advertise that as a tourist attraction, because one of the success stories we have is the success story of the grape and wine industry. That required a substantial investment by the federal and provincial government, but that investment has paid off, I think, in terms of millions and millions of dollars into the provincial treasury in the form of taxes that have paid off, if you will, that investment which was made in the grape and wind industry.

So I hope that the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will not proceed with that option, that in fact will find other options. The previous government had an option, which it rejected. I was supportive of that. But if the government can find other options in terms of assisting with the marketing and retailing of those products, I'd be very much in favour of that. But I think if you allow that development in the rural lands, then you end up with bad development.

There's also an argument which is made that the land -- they say, "Well, you know, the land is lying there fallow, nobody is using it, it's not being farmed for agricultural purposes, so shouldn't it go to development purposes?" Well, very often that land is purchased and deliberately left to not be used for agricultural purposes, so that argument -- I call it crackpot realism -- can be put forward that the land isn't being used for agricultural purposes, therefore we should allow development.

I think orderly development is good for Ontario. I think, since I've been in this House since 1977, there has been an effort by individuals within all three political parties to establish good land use planning. Remember in the Niagara Peninsula the land use plan that's there, and I felt it was not restrictive enough but fair enough: The provincial government of the day had fairly restrictive land policies, because it wanted to see development take place in a confined, urban area. It may well be, and some of us may have to change our views on this in terms of what we're prepared to permit internally within our municipalities, that we may have to develop in a more intense way than we have in the past. That's a hard transformation for those of us in North America who have been used to having a lot of land out there and the possibility of virtually everybody living in a single-family home with a reasonable piece of property surrounding it.


I think the government then is, in my view -- and I emphasize that my view isn't always that of my colleagues and when we debated this bill before, I'm sure my colleagues who voted against the NDP bill had found reasons for it not to be a good bill -- I, in some cases, thought it didn't go far enough and in some cases perhaps it had other flaws in it.

I want to deal as well, while I have the opportunity and the minister in the House, with the Niagara Escarpment Commission and with the fact that I see that in the Niagara Peninsula now that the Niagara Escarpment Commission is down to one employee. It had six employees, six planners, and I think could speed through the process more if you wanted to see the process speeded through with its six planners. It is down to one planner and I essentially believe that the Ministry of Environment and Energy is abandoning the Niagara Escarpment Commission, which I mentioned earlier in my view was one of the hallmarks of the Davis government, of the Progressive Conservative government of William Davis and of Norm Sterling, now the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations who, I think, was the provincial secretary for resources development at the time.

I hope that the government does listen to those who believe that the escarpment should be preserved. I tell you, it is a real attraction. It is a biosphere reserve, recognized by the United Nations. I know there are some people within the government and others who want to see that designation lifted so that it would be easier to develop. Go through the United States and look at some of those areas. You've got those huge signs beside the highways, you've got commercialism through a lot of their natural land and I know it produces some economic benefit, but is it ever nice to be able to drive through Ontario, our Ontario that belongs to all of us, and note the natural beauty of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. People used to wonder when I was Minister of the Environment why I wanted to save Temagami and save other areas because I wasn't that much of a hiker and outdoors person at all, but I wanted to make sure that it was available for others, particularly for our young people, particularly for the future.

And that's what planning is all about. Planning is about the future of our province and how our province will look. I hope that all of us have similar goals as to what we wish the province to look like 20, 30, 40 or 100 years from now. I hope that planning is based on sound principles. I hope that we don't vary from those principles simply because of pressure, particularly locally, from those who believe that everything should be developed. I hope that we do not allow the kind of annexations that I see in Bill 26. I didn't mean to mention Bill 26 because we're talking about a different bill, but it has an effect on this bill and that is in Bill 26 where there can be annexations take place. I remember the annexation debate that took place with, I think it was Westminster township it was called, adjacent to London.

After a lot of debate and public hearings and so on, it finally went through the Legislature, but under the new provisions that we will see in another piece of legislation, cities such as Stratford will be able to annex the adjacent property without the consent of the Ontario Legislature, and I think it's always good to have a debate in this Legislature.

Listen, in my own city, there are probably people in St Catharines who would like to annex Thorold and annex the town of Lincoln and annex the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. I'm not one of them, but there are people who'd like to do that, no doubt, and if they could do it, and because we're in a regional municipality that's probably not possible, but if they could do it without the approval and the hearings that are implicit in provincial legislation, they would do so.

So I think a lot of the rural members here particularly will find in various pieces of legislation, including Bill 26, which has an effect on the planning process in Ontario, that you're going to have large municipalities wanting to annex adjacent municipalities, gobble up that farm land for development purposes, and they'll be able to do so at the nod of the cabinet because it's being done by regulation as opposed by legislation. As we all know, legislation allows each one of us in this House, regardless of our political affiliation, regardless of the constituency from which we come, to have our say in this Legislature. It also allows the people who can get at us and no one else to have some influence over those ultimate policies.

I hope that my comments are taken into account. I recognize that they're not the only view on issues related to planning in the province, but I appreciate the opportunity to advance this case.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments or questions?

Hon Mr Leach: I just wanted to thank the member for his very fine remarks. I think he did an excellent job of presenting his case. It's surprising the number of issues that we agree on. I think we all agree that we're opposed to sprawl; all three parties would agree to that. We all support good development and we all agree that there is a tremendous need to protect the environment. All three parties, again, would support that and it's a matter of degree of how you go about that.

One area that I would like to have an opportunity to discuss perhaps at another time with my colleague opposite is the one-window approach for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, because it's not a matter of domination, as was indicated; it's a matter of coordination. One of the most major complaints I have heard in the short time that I have been here is the frustrations that municipalities and developers and all agencies that try and move through the province of Ontario's various ministries -- you may get approval from five ministries and the sixth one will take you to the OMB and just tie up a proposal for years and years. What they're looking for is, "Even if the answer is no, at least let us know as fast as you possibly can," because time is money and when you tie up your capital for two or three years and then get frustrated at the last moment, it's very difficult. So it's a matter of an attempt on our behalf to coordinate the process so that it works smoother. Probably the member would agree with some form of that.

I'd also like to comment on the member for Kingston and The Islands's approach, and I again agreed with many of the points he put forward on this issue.

The Deputy Speaker: The minister's time has expired. Comments or questions?

Mr Bisson: I just want to comment very quickly on the position that Mr Bradley has put out. The member is from St Catharines. I know him to be a member who has always been a strong advocate for being able to protect the environment and to take a look at an integrated approach to how we allow development to go forward. I was hoping he was going to go as far as to support the efforts of Bill 163 under the former minister, Mr Ed Philip. I don't think he got that far, but I take it there was some support for the general direction of where we were going.

I just want to very quickly comment on the point that he made about the one-window approach. The member pointed out well to the minister directly: It is not a question of allowing just an easier process to be able to get your development plan approved by the OMB; you really do need to have a process where the various interests of the province of Ontario through the ministries and their responsibilities to the particular interests are really looked at seriously and brought forward before the Ontario Municipal Board if there is a real concern. I can tell you, as I'm sure the member for St Catharines can talk about, how particular developments across the province in our own municipalities at times have been looked at a second time because of concerns that either MNR or MOE or the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines or whatever ministry may have on a particular issue to bring forward that may not be thought about by the Minister of Municipal Affairs or the ministry itself.

So I think it's important that we outline one of the things that's happening in this legislation: Allowing just MMA to appeal to the OMB is really allowing a lot of power in the hands of the minister to be able to muzzle some of his cabinet colleagues in being able to bring forward real concerns that might be raised on the part of constituents within our own ridings. That's one area of the bill that we need to look at in a little bit more detail in committee.

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I want to comment on the member for St Catharines's comments, largely centred around the agricultural issue. There's no doubt that the Niagara Peninsula is one of the most beautiful spots in Ontario, indeed Canada. Of course, it has a growing advantage, guarded by the escarpment and the water, and he's indeed correct that they can produce crops of a higher quality and of a different type than most places in Ontario.


The preservation of farm land is an issue that is of concern to myself as well.The pressures of the urban centres, no matter where they're located -- and there are other places other than Toronto that bear these pressures, even into my riding -- are of concern. Even within the farm community there is a view that perhaps to preserve the farm prices we would all like to enjoy, those being higher prices, one way to achieve that is to pave over, dig up or build on prime land, and that concerns me very much, that there is a minority of people in the farm community who think that's a way of achieving pricing. That's misguided, to say the very least.

I appreciate the comments of the member on the agricultural component of planning, and he's quite right that once you destroy prime agricultural land, it's gone forever, and we have to be very certain that in the future we keep our minds on food preservation, which comes from land preservation.

Mr Smith: I'd certainly like to congratulate the member for St Catharines. It was certainly a thorough presentation and very informative.

I would like to make a brief statement with respect to the comments by the member for Kingston and The Islands, and specifically with reference to the minor variance appeals. I think really what's at the basis of this is determining what truly is a local matter and differentiating between that particular item and determining what is a matter of provincial concern.

I would have to argue that I think certainly a minor variance -- the determination of side yards, fence locations, front yard setbacks -- are truly matters of local concern, and it's difficult to accept the criticism that the member put forward when in one sense he criticizes that and yet, on the other side of the coin, he's supportive of apartments as a right in basements. Essentially, you could proceed with an apartment in a basement but you would have to have minimal appeal mechanisms available to you with respect to the construction of a fence outside of that basement, for example.

I think there's some inconsistency there, and I'd certainly like to draw that to the member's attention. I think clearly the message from the minister is that the government is prepared to assess and redefine what truly provincial interests are, leaving the local issues in the hands of the local municipalities.

Mr Bradley: I appreciate the comments on my remarks, and I'd like this opportunity that members have to be able to do this to direct questions or make suggestions related to those remarks.

To the NDP member for Cochrane South, I should mention that at the very beginning of my remarks I did pay tribute to the previous government for bringing forward this bill. I thought in some cases it didn't go far enough and I was critical of it on that occasion. It did not go far enough, in fact. In other places, it probably went a little too far; it's hard to say.

But I think all governments have tried to bring forward legislation which would benefit planning. At least this has been the case since I've been in the Legislature.

Mr Murdoch: Don't forget my votes, Jimmy.

Mr Bradley: I should mention the interjection. I'm not supposed to respond to them. The member for Grey-Owen Sound gets an additional thousand votes every time he establishes that he's on the opposite side of an issue to me, especially if it's a planning issue, so I don't want to give him the opportunity to have an additional thousand votes in the next provincial election.

To the minister's remarks, I appreciate exactly what you're saying with the one-window approach. One of the problems I saw within government was exactly that, that there may be seven or eight different ministries commenting, you may have the approval of six of the seven, and the seventh, at the very last minute, comes in and says you cannot have approval. So there is a virtue to trying to get those ministries together, at least, to get each other's comments.

I think the valid remark that you make, which everybody seeks, is that the person who is proposing a development knows yes or no early on in the game. If there's one complaint I heard which I thought was legitimate, it was the timing of the disapproval indicated of a development or proposal, that it would go several steps down the line, only to be stymied at the end.

So there is some virtue to that. I simply hope that the Ministry of Environment is not elbowed aside by other ministries.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bisson: There are a number of points to be made in regard to Bill 20. I guess the first thing I'd want to say to the minister -- and I appreciate that he's here tonight in order to hear some of the comments by my colleagues from the Liberal Party and myself in regard to this bill -- is that I think we need to go back a bit and take a look at the process that was undertaken by the former government in regard to trying to bring to head some of the issues, quite frankly, that were thorns to developers and were thorns to municipalities, and in some cases the general public, in regard to how planning takes place in the province.

The one thing that we've long agreed on, both developers, as you well know, and municipalities and stakeholders, is that there really has been an inconsistency in how we approach planning in the province of Ontario -- I would say even further than that, across other jurisdictions across Canada -- in regard to how they affect our local municipalities, both in regard to the services that they provide and at the same time in regard to how communities work and how communities work together.

Let me be a little bit more specific here. The member for St Catharines pointed out something that was I think somewhat telling: If you take a look at the development around the GTA and you look at the development going off towards the Hamilton area, quite frankly there hasn't been an attempt on the part of any of the municipalities in that area to take a look at how we're able to protect the interests of the developer, who wants to be able to develop in order to make a profit -- and, after all, that is part of what makes our economy go -- but there hasn't been really an attempt to take a look at how we safeguard the community interest when it comes to the ecology and it comes to the environment that that development has taken place on.

I think if you take a drive down the QEW and you take off from Toronto and go down to Hamilton or into St Catharines, you will see a number of, I would say, travesties about how planning has taken place in this province. We've seen entire areas of farm land basically bulldozed over by communities and their developers in order to be able to allow certain projects to go forward for economic reasons.

But what we haven't done through that whole process is to take a look at, what are the long-term costs of allowing that to happen? Does it make sense from the perspective of the community, and does it make sense from the perspective of the economy, to allow that to happen? Because in the longer term, I would argue, Mr Minister, some of that can end up in the end costing us a heck of a lot of money. If we allow bad planning to take place and we allow the bulldozing over of prime agricultural land, I think that in the long run our communities quite frankly are hurt by that.

I think if we look specifically to what happened over the last four or five years, at the very beginning of the Sewell report that was commissioned by the former government under the leadership of Bob Rae and the then Minister of Municipal Affairs, Dave Cooke, there was a cry I think on the part of both developers and municipalities that we needed to figure out a way to be able to bring all of those issues to a head so that when we go ahead with planning in this province, we do it from the perspective of reality and we look at, how do we balance off the interests of the developer, which are real interests, against the interests of the environmentalists and the environment, which are also real interests?

I think the minister agrees, and I know certainly I've heard in some of his comments over the past, that the Sewell commission looked at all of those issues in great detail. It was the most extensive consultation ever, I would say, on the question of development in the province of Ontario, because we believed as a government, and as we still do now as a party in third place in this House, that before the government could move forward in being able to make specific rules, both in legislation and in regulations, about how we move forward with planning, we really needed to get a handle on what all of those issues were and how you're able to pull them together and how you can make sense between balancing off the interests of both the environment and the needed developers.

After very, very extensive consultation, the Sewell commission come forward with a number of recommendations, and the minister of the day, Mr Philip, who is no longer here in this House and hopefully will return, because I've always enjoyed Mr Philip's company within our caucus in this Legislature -- I think he brought a lot of experience to this House, and I think he looked at what happened with the report on the part of Mr Sewell, and with his ministry and the people who work for you now within your Ministry of Municipal Affairs -- people who understand these issues, I would say, far more than yourself and myself, you as minister and myself as critic, put together -- looked at all of that and made a number of recommendations about how we can come to terms with the recommendations of the Sewell commission and put them into legislation.


We went through an extensive period of consultation and through second reading debate in this House on Bill 163. We moved that forward into committee. It was commented on by a number of presenters at the committee level, and not everybody was in agreement. I fully acknowledge there were developers and there were municipalities that really had problems with what we were trying to achieve under Bill 163, because at any time you try through legislation to be able to give very direct direction -- pardon the pun on the words -- to municipalities on how they deal with planning, they react badly to that. They see that as an intrusion on to their power and they see that as an intrusion on to their right to be able to decide what's good for their communities.

Their argument is that if I'm the municipality of Timmins, first of all, I'm in the best position to be able to make decisions about planning in my community, and who the heck is the province, or Queen's Park, to tell me about how planning is to take place?

I understand that from the local perspective, and I guess it makes some sense when you look at it from there, but really I think the issue is that you have to look at planning from the perspective of the province as well, because we're both stakeholders in this, and what Bill 163 tried to do was try to marry the ideas of how the municipalities felt and how the province felt and how developers felt and how the environmentalists felt and about how you're able to bring that all back into some kind of terms that make sense from a planning perspective.

I think if you look at the writings of a number of people who've looked at Bill 163, after it was put forward, people who do truly understand the planning issues and are not looking at it from strictly a profit basis, which is I think part of what your builders are trying to accomplish under Bill 20, because in the very title of the act -- and I'll come to that later -- you talk about, right in the preamble, "An Act to promote economic growth and protect the environment...." I think the onus here is to allow development to go forward in a much more user-friendly way, the premise being that that will lead to a better economy.

I would say yes, you have to allow development to go forward, and there have to be some rules that are consistent, and there has to be a process that makes sense to developers, and you have to be able to move through the process in a fairly sane way. But to say that development should be put forward strictly on the basis of an economic argument I think is really dangerous for our economy, and I think it's dangerous for our communities.

If we take a look at, for an example, just on the economic side, to give you a bit of an argument this way, we know here in Ontario that many, many companies, when they look at where they're going to establish and set up their organization, let it be a manufacturing facility or let it be an office building or whatever it might be, many companies nowadays, unlike the bad old days, look at, how healthy is the community? They say, "If I'm going to spend millions of dollars" -- and in some cases tens or hundreds of millions of dollars -- "in investing to build a new plant in a community, or investing to build a new office tower," or whatever it might be, they say: "What kind of community can I provide to my employees? Because if I'm going to be able to attract the best possible employees for my company so that I can be profitable, I want to make sure that I'm able to offer my employees and their families a good, safe community that they can live in, that we can provide them with good schools, that there are good schools around and they're close to the vicinity of their homes, that there are good recreational opportunities," etc, etc.

I would argue that part of what you're doing under Bill 20 and making some of the changes away from the direction of Bill 163 I think really tips the balance back in the hands of developers, who don't look at those issues with the perspective that I think we need to as a community. I really feel, when you look at the bill and you read it -- and we can go through this in some detail -- it really tips the balance back to the hands of the developer.

I understand the argument that the minister makes and the Premier makes, because I think we're all in agreement that we want to be able to make it easier for projects to move through the planning process. I think that's an area where we don't have an argument -- nobody, no matter what side of the House you're on. But I think the danger is that you really tip the argument to the side of the developer, so that some of the issues of community are really not taken into account when it comes to being able to deal with how we move forward with that particular project.

I come from, I consider, a special place of Ontario, northern Ontario, and one of the issues we all understand in the north and we all feel about is being able to find opportunities, economic opportunities for our citizens by attracting investment into our communities.

One of the things that always struck me, as I met with companies who were looking at establishing facilities in Ontario -- and I would go there as a local member along with the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Ms Martel, and the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Ms Lankin, and the Premier, Bob Rae, before -- is that they would look at, "Well, if I'm going to go spend all these bucks, where am I going to go?" I'd be out there saying, "Come on, come to the north, there's some great opportunities up there." They would look at: What are the hospital situations? What are the community situations? What recreational activities are there for employees when we set up? And because there was not good planning I think in the north initially, we lagged a little bit behind, until 20 or 25 years, ago with being able to afford those opportunities to our citizens.

I think that greatly curtailed the ability to attract professionals to service our communities in regard to the professional services that we need, in regard to medicine, education etc, but also curtailed to a certain extent the economic development that could have happened in northern Ontario 20, 25 years ago, if we would have tried to deal with that at the very beginning. I think that's part of the shortsightedness of where this bill goes.

I would hope through the committee process that we're able to talk about some of those issues so that we can really try to find that balance, because again we don't argue with the minister that we want to make planning easier for people. I think it's important that if I'm going to spend money as a developer on a project, I need to know what the rules are going into it, so that I don't spend my time spinning my wheels and trying to figure out which way I've got to go in order to get a permit and what's going to be allowed and what's going to happen. You can spend a whole bunch of money there and be frustrated in the process, and that investor may decide to go elsewhere.

I agree with the minister. We need to be able to balance that. We need to be able to fix that, I should say. But I think not at the expense of protecting our environment and protecting our quality of life in this province.

One of the things that I just want to touch on very quickly is the question that the minister in the bill, in the title, talks about economic growth. The only other thing I would want to say on that is that if we want promote economic growth, I think it's not just looking at how we deal with development. I wish that the government would go back on the broader terms and take a look at what kind of tools we can offer to investors to be able to invest in the province of Ontario, or our local citizens to do the same.

I would only note that a number of programs that were very important to northern Ontario to be able to develop northern Ontario -- the economic development corporation or the heritage fund etc -- have been cancelled, and I think that's going to have a negative effect. So to say that in the title of the bill we want to promote economic growth I think rings a little bit shallow in regard to some of the approaches that your government has taken up to here.

The other thing I would say just quickly on that point is that we have a number of things that we're able to do in order to be able to make it easier for developers and for municipalities to deal with how we approach planning by looking at how restrictive, to some extent, our system is when it comes to getting permits to be able to go forward with construction and how we do inspection, how the inspectors relate to the building codes they have to follow. I think there's a whole bunch of other issues that we could be looking at that, in the end, would really allow development an easier time to be able to go forward.

I think this bill falls short on that because I was hoping especially from this Conservative government, seeing that they're supposedly the friends of removing red tape, that we would be looking at those kinds of issues -- not giving developers a free ride, because I don't think anybody in our society should get a free ride. I think that we all have to be responsible citizens and, be it a corporation or an individual, we should all pay our fair share and pay our way through society, but I think we should be looking at how development ties in to some of the problems of the bureaucracy that we find within municipalities and some of that bureaucracy within some of our own provincial ministries and federal ministries.

I just give you a very short example: There was a developer in my riding -- who actually didn't come from my riding; he comes from Toronto -- who was looking at developing a lodge up on -- I'm trying to remember the name of the lake. I call it the Cache, but that's only part of it. That's an interesting one. Everybody back home is going to say, "You don't remember the name of that lake." Anyway, up along the Cache -- I'll remember the name of the lake later -- he was trying to develop a lodge so that he would be able to attract people to do conferences in sort of a secluded setting and be able, at the same time, to attract families to come up and do their holidays up in the area by experiencing the fishing and the wilderness in the area around this particular lake.

One of the things that really frustrated that developer, Mr Santos -- I don't know if you would have heard from him by now, because I can tell you, I heard from him on a regular basis in our term in government -- was really the inability on the part of both levels of government, both the municipality and province, to be able to really set the rules that were needed for him to decide right at the beginning if that development should go forward, yes or no.

Part of the problem that we have, and I'm going to be very candid here, I think at the danger of annoying some of my own municipal council people in my own community, one of the things that I remarked that happened with that particular project, if we really want to talk about how we deal with the abuses of the OMB, was that there was a fight among cottagers on that particular lake about should that project go forward or should it not. There was an even split of people who had ears of municipal aldermen or council people within that council. So a number of fairly influential people in our community who owned cottages along that lake went to a number of our aldermen and said, "We don't want this thing going forward." At the same time they were being lobbied by Mr Santos, and the councillors said, "Jeez, we don't want to make the decision and be looked at as the bad guys," so they threw it off to the OMB.


I think quite frankly that's part of the problem that we have at times, is that you say that you want to be able to give the tools to municipalities in order for them to do their jobs. I think the question becomes that we have to really figure out clearly what the lines of decision-making are between the province and the municipalities. I would agree with you, to a certain extent, that a number of things could probably be best dealt with within the municipal level, provided there were clear rules about how we dealt with planning in the province of Ontario. That's what Bill 163 was all about. Because we said under 163 that the province, for the number of years, had been developing and come to the point of developing rules about how development should go forward.

There were some 600 pages that you talked about earlier in regard to policies about how development should go forward. I would admit that those 600 pages were not drafted golden text that was perfect, but I think it was the beginning of how we were able to give municipalities the tools that they needed to be able to take a look at: What do I do in this particular situation when somebody's applying to move a project forward? Does this meet the rules and the policies of where the province wants to go? How does this fit in with the municipality itself? In the end, they could be in a position to make a decision and, without having the OMB involved and the ministry involved, of determining if it falls within clear, established guidelines set out in legislation, regulation and policy.

Unfortunately, one of the things that you're doing in this legislation is you're doing away with the provision under 163 that said that developers had to be consistent with policies in regard to development. Now we're having to move over to a situation where you only have to have regard for it. I think the danger with that is -- there are two points.

First of all, it goes contrary to what you're trying to say to municipalities, which is, "We want to give you the tools to be able to do your job so that you can be more responsible communities." I think this takes away from that, because clearly how can a municipality be expected to make a decision about planning if they don't know what the game plan is with the provincial government? If they're looking at the rules and they say, "You know, if I take a look over here, it says we shouldn't do X in a certain situation, but the rules say I don't have to follow that, I just have to have regard for it, while the municipality down the road has done it one way and a municipality down the other road has done it another way." It leads to all kinds of inconsistencies, I think, in regards to how individual municipalities will deal with the questions of planning, and that leads to a whole set of other problems that I'll talk about a little bit later.

But the point that I want to make to the minister is that if we're truly serious about giving municipalities the tools that they need, in the words of the minister himself, and about how they are given the tools that they need in order to make decisions about planning, you've got to give them the rules. How in heck are they supposed to decide how to make a decision if they're looking at rules that are inconsistently applied across the province? It's ludicrous. That's part of the problem of where you're going with this.

What 163 tried to deal with was to say to municipalities, "Here's what the province wants you to follow in regard to policies when it comes to development, and we want you to be consistent with these rules." The reason that we put "be consistent with" was not because of some namby-pamby, environmentalist kind of feeling that the government had; it had nothing to do with that. It had to do with clearly the developer needs to know what the rules are. If the developer knows up front and the developer doesn't have to go to the OMB to figure out how to interpret those rules, the developer can go to the policies and say: "Here's how you deal with this particular situation. I've either got a project or I don't."

What I would have been more willing to participate in with the minister, and I would have applauded him -- and if you do this, quite frankly I would have no problem standing up and saying, "I support the government 110% on this" -- would be to go back and take a look at those policies and have some discussion, at a committee level -- I don't know exactly how you would do that on a standing committee, but maybe on a select committee -- about how we deal with those policies and make them work for both developers and municipalities and the stakeholders.

I think if we were to fix up some of the problems that you see with the policies, you would be able to leave 163 fairly well intact with a few minor adjustments and make it work well so that developers in the end know what the rules were, know what it is going into the situation. I think it would really make your bill do what you want it to do, which is to promote economic growth, because I agree that if I've got a million bucks to invest or $10 million or $100 million or whatever, I want to know what the bloody rules are before I go in. If I don't know what the rules are, I'm going to be somewhat leery of making that investment. I agree with that premise.

But I think Bill 20 is going to lead away from what your idea is, which is to promote economic growth. I think it'll leave it in the hands of municipalities to where I, as an investor who wants to develop a particular project in community X, Y or Z, is going to go down and say: "In Timmins they do it this way, so maybe I'll go and invest in Timmins, because Timmins wants to do it this particular way. Oh, but take a look down the road there in Sudbury. They're doing it a little bit different. They're not applying this rule the same way. Why is that?" Because they don't have to be consistent with the rules. They only have to have regard for them.

I think you're going to end up with -- and this is the real danger -- all kinds of appeals at the OMB because quite frankly the developer will have the right, and you know this, Minister, to appeal the decision of a municipality in regard to the policies of development. So if I'm a developer and I'm going to invest and I say, "I want to invest this in Timmins because it's a great place to do business and we just love that member for Cochrane South. We want to go spend our money there" -- did I lose you on that one?

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Yes, I think so.

Mr Bisson: I think I lost them on that one. The point is that if they want to go and invest there and they see that Timmins is not treating them the same way, say, that Toronto or Sudbury is, they're going to say: "Hey, this ain't right. I'm taking the community of Timmins to the OMB." I think this is a real rats' nest waiting to happen. Quite frankly, it's part of the problem that we had -- well, I see the minister is shaking his head in the negative, but I ask you to be fair-minded because when I got up tonight, I thought to myself: "You know, I can get up and I can do an hour-and-a-half rant on this thing and try to grandstand, but I don't think in the end that would get us anywhere. What I'd rather do is to clearly lay out what some of my concerns are so they can be taken into consideration, because I think that's a real concern."

I've had the opportunity since Bill 20 was tabled in the House to speak to a number of developers, not only in my riding, but developers I had dealings with from across the province in our term in government. I just raised that question to them, and at first they went, "What are you really talking about?" I'd explain it to them. I'd say: "Let's say, you want to develop a hotel conference centre somewhere. One municipality treats you one way and the other municipality treats you the other way. What would you do if you really wanted to invest in a community and they didn't allow you to do it, but the community down the street did?" They said, "We'd take them to the OMB."

I think if we're serious about trying to do away with red tape, we need to have clear rules and clear policies about how we apply the system of development in this province. I just raise that because I think it is a real problem waiting to happen. We've got ourselves a bit of, as the old saying is, a basket of snakes and we don't know how many heads are in it and we're afraid to put our hands in it because we might get bitten.

I think that we'll stand in this House -- at least, I hope that I'm lucky enough with the people of Cochrane South to stand in this House again five, six years from now -- and we'll be able to look at how Bill 20 was applied to development, and I will bet you the number of appeals to the OMB will go up. You shake your head, but I really think that we have a bit of a problem.

I think the responsible thing to do and I think the fiscally prudent thing to do on the part of the government, because I know you have a lot of other horses to tackle, would have been to say, "Let's leave 163 in place for now." The bill only came into law in March 1995. All the appeals we're dealing with now at the OMB, which is a problem, are appeals that were launched under pre-163 development. We really haven't got to 163 development yet. I think it would have been a lot smarter and a lot better for developers and communities and stakeholders if we had said: "Let's allow 163 a little bit of time to work. Let's take a look at the experiences under 163. Let's see how it works out." Then if the minister wanted to come to the House next spring, which would have been a year later, or the fall, a year and a half after, in 1996, and say, "The NDP might have been going in the right direction, but I've got some problems with their bill and I want to make amendments to Bill 163, and I call it Bill whatever," I could have accepted that.


But the problem is that I see the government coming in and depositing Bill 20 into the House and tabling it with the table clerks at the beginning of September, October some time, even before they've had the opportunity, and I think the advantage, of looking at how Bill 163 works.

I know the clerks are really interested because they're looking at me at this point to the affirmative. You are, Deborah; I can see you.

What happens is that you've got the bill coming here early, before 163 ever had a chance to start, and you ask, what is this really all about? It brings me back to the first point, which is that this government is intent on giving developers the upper hand, as simple as that, because they truly believe environmental concerns are a nuisance to development.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs in his speech to the Canadian Bar Association said something that I thought was most telling. I'm going to paraphrase because I can't find the quote in my notes quickly enough. He said he sees environmental issues being a detriment to development. Why would the Minister of Municipal Affairs go to the Canadian Bar Association, at a public gathering, and say something like that, then all of a sudden, less than a month later, come into the House with Bill 20 and call it an act to promote economic growth and protect the environment? There's a bit of a contradiction in terms.

The minister in his statements to the Canadian Bar Association said, "I agree with developers." Not all developers are irresponsible, because there are some good ones out there, and a few of them are my friends. My good friend Lionel Bonhomme is a developer, and he's been most responsive and responsible, along with many others. But there are some devious ones. I don't think the devious ones are in the majority, but in those cases where you have bad developers, they end up giving the good ones a bad name. But they've really got the ear of this minister and of this government, and he's allowing himself to be hoodwinked into making changes to Bill 163 that are really not warranted and in the end will buy us a lot of trouble.

The minister chose an interesting title for the bill: An act to promote economic growth and protect the environment by streamlining the land use planning and development system through amendments related to planning...blah, blah, blah, blah. The point is that it's a bit of a contradiction. He says he wants to promote economic growth and protect the environment. Yes, he's promoting economic growth, no question about that. There will probably be more development, given this act, because it'll give sweeping powers to developers to develop in areas where they would not be allowed to under Bill 163.

But "to protect the environment" I think is a gross misrepresentation of the intent of this bill. I go back to the point that the bill says you shall "have regard" for the policies of the government of Ontario and you shall not be "consistent with" them.

You've really got to ask yourself the question. The ministries across this government have, over the past number of governments going back to the time of Mr Frost and even before, developed policies based on experiences we've had in the province of Ontario. Why? Because when you have environmental disasters, you want to learn from them and make darn sure you don't allow something like that to happen again, so you develop a policy so you prevent environmental disasters from happening.

I'll give you an example, one that's quite close to home for me. My own father owns a building in Timmins that used to have a gas station next to it. At the time the gas station was put in and for the years it was there, it was allowed to put in -- I forget -- I think it was 15,000 or 20,000 gallons of gas on a corner lot the size of a postage stamp. That was seen as good development back in the good old days of the 1960s and 1970s when the economy was just rolling along. That was seen as being good for business, and I guess under Bill 20 that would also be seen as good business.

But with time, metal rots, and the gas started to leak out of the tanks. The gas went under the entire weepage system of the house and the business in the front part of that house, and basically the building was condemned and shut down by the fire marshal's office. Why? Because the gas was allowed to leak from a postage-stamp-sized lot underneath the building to the point that the gas was contaminating the entire building. It took a court case that went on for five years. I would say millions of dollars were spent by the participants in that lawsuit -- the crown, my father and the defendants in that case -- all because we allowed bad planning to happen a long time ago.

To come back to the point of making policies, the government of Ontario made a policy decision around cases such as that. They said we need to have a policy that deals with how we allow gas stations to be developed in the province, how we provide for safe and adequate storage of gas so it doesn't escape on to other people's property and cause environmental damage. We learned through experiences such as my father's and others. There was another case in Kirkland Lake, not too far away, and another one in Ottawa that I'm aware of where similar kinds of things happened, and it ended up costing the province, our courts, our municipalities, our health care system, millions and millions of dollars because we allowed bad planning to happen.

So the government set policy. In this case, the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations along with the Ministry of the Environment put together some rules about how you're going to store away gasoline in a gas station. We did not want to repeat the mistakes of the past.

There are all kinds of examples: the Hagersville tire fire, where millions of taxpayers' dollars were spent, first of all in fighting the blaze. My God, they were flying water bombers from northern Ontario down to Hagersville trying to put the fire out, all because we allowed somebody to set up a holding system of tires in the middle of an area that was fairly well developed and fairly well populated but we had no system to control how those tires were stored.

After spending millions of dollars trying to get the fire out and then cleaning it up and then subsequently the court time in people going to court to litigate that whole issue, the government of Ontario, under Jim Bradley, who was the Minister of the Environment at the time, passed a law. They made amendments to Bill 128 or 168 -- I forget the bill number -- which said, "That kind of stuff can't happen and we will set some rules so we don't have that happen again." That's where all these policies come from.

The government of Ontario today, under Mike Harris and Mr Leach, who say they want to promote economic growth and protect environment and good planning, say we will only have to have regard for the rules, but we won't have to enforce them. What kind of sense does that make? It seems to me that it is part of the evolution of growing up as an individual or as a society that you learn from past mistakes. That is why we set rules and that's why we set policies, because if we repeat the mistake, we'll only end up having to pay the same way we did the first time.

That is why under Bill 163, we as a government said, we're not going to "have regard to" those rules; we're going to enforce them and the municipalities will have to enforce them because we have to ensure that we learn from our past mistakes. At the end of the day, when something happens and there is a rule written, some municipal planner in the city of Timmins or Sudbury or Thunder Bay or wherever it might be can pick up the book and say, "This is the provincial policy when it comes to how I allow a gas station to be developed on a corner lot somewhere in downtown Timmins."

The municipal planner or the building inspector takes a look, as the person comes in for the permit. They pick up the rules and say: "The government has a policy here that says such-and-such rules apply to how a gas station is going to be developed on a corner lot in Timmins. It doesn't allow you to do this, Mr Developer" -- or Mr Entrepreneur in this case -- "so no, you can't build your gas station, because the lot you have will not adequately serve the policies of the province of Ontario."

Is that bad? I don't think that's bad; I think that's good. Residents of that community need to know that there are policies and that there is somebody out there looking out for their interests. That is why you don't only have to have regard to those rules but have to make sure you're consistent with them. That's what that's all about.

When I hear the Conservative members across the way saying they want to rule with common sense, what's commonsensical about not following the rules? It's like saying we're going to allow people to get on the highway and drive whatever speed they want, because they don't have to be consistent with the speed limits of the highways of the province of Ontario.

Mrs Boyd: They already did that.

Mr Bisson: Well, they've done it by taking away photo radar, but that's another argument.

The point is that you're saying to people, "You don't have to be consistent with the rules of the province because we say you only have to have regard to them." There's nothing commonsensical about that. It leads to a lot of problems down the way and puts the security of our communities at risk. That's a real danger.


The other thing I want to touch on very quickly is the whole question of urban sprawl. One of the things the minister talks about in the title of the act is "to promote economic growth." I think that speaks directly to the question of urban sprawl. I would like to share with the minister -- he's here again listening to the debate, and I appreciate that. I always commend a minister for taking the time to listen. For that much, we thank you. I remind you that you have a meeting tomorrow afternoon with the people at Regent Park, and that's to happen at Regent Park.

Hon Mr Leach: Two meetings.

Mr Bisson: I hope the one with St James Town too, because I know the people at St James Town --

Hon Mr Leach: Two meetings, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Mr Bisson: Good stuff. I hope you follow up on those meetings, as the people of St James Town last night did want to meet with you and talk about housing policies, but that's for another day.

I just want to talk a bit about urban sprawl and share with you some thoughts written in articles lately. Here's a quote from a Toronto Star article, I think, where one of their writers, well known for looking at the whole question of development, writes:

"Policy rewrites also should be transparent and subject to province-wide public debate on such questions as whether we really want to encourage rather than curb urban sprawl."

What he's getting at is that you have to have clear rules that everybody can understand going into the game that let people know -- the farmers, the developers, the municipal planners etc -- how you're going to allow development to go forward or not let it go forward. I think that's what the person's trying to get at.

There's another article here somewhere, a comment your own Premier made during the election when he said it wasn't such a good idea to -- I'll paraphrase rather than looking for the document. I remember watching a clip after the election, because I tend to tape all that stuff and look at it after the fact; it's a lot more amusing after the election to look at all that. The Premier had said during the campaign, in a debate on CITY-TV, that he really didn't believe urban intensification was a good idea, that in the long run, if you allow that to happen, it is going to cost the municipality and the ratepayers a heck of a lot more money if you don't have some sanity to the planning process that curbs urban sprawl.

It's not very often, but on this one I agree with Mike Harris. I think he's right. I hope you're listening to him, Minister Leach. I hope you're listening to the very wise words of the Premier on CITY-TV sometime in May, during the election.

That's really the whole issue. If we plan properly up front and say where we are going to allow development to happen, residential and light commercial or industrial or retail, we're able to better figure out where it is that we have to develop the services needed to maintain that community, and that's everything from the hard services all the way to the soft services. If we can do that properly at the front end, we're able to make a lot more sense about how we develop our communities so they make economic sense in the end.

An interesting study appeared on that whole question. A Dr Blais wrote a report in regard to this issue and talked about the whole question of urban sprawl. I want to raise with you just what it means to the GTA. The report said, "Continuous sprawl will require a capital investment of $82.5 billion by the year 2021. The figure is dominated by the unavoidable cost of roads, sewers, pipes, parks and schools. On the other hand, a more compact form of development capable of accommodating the same population will cost $69 billion by the same date."

What he's saying is that if we were to take a look at how we approach development, we can save the taxpayers of the province of Ontario, over a period of some 20 or 30 years, almost a billion dollars a year. That's just by saying, "Let's sanely sit down and take a look at how planning needs to be done." If you don't do it up front, you're only going to pay for it in the long run. I think we can all look in our own ridings, in our own municipalities, to see where that has happened. There are all kinds of examples.

Dr Blais reports: "The operating and maintenance costs of sprawl, based on hard services, will amount to $25 billion by the year 2021. More compact development will generate an equivalent cost of $18 billion.

"A conservative estimate" -- not Conservative, just conservative in philosophy -- "suggests that about $0.8 billion to $1 billion per year in capital operating and maintenance costs could be saved by altering the urban development patterns in the GTA. These estimates should be more than enough to attract the attention of the Premier, who has declared that this province is bankrupt."

That brings us to the point. We hear minister after minister stand in the House and talk about how this province is in crisis and the deficit is just driving us down and scaring business away and it's just a terrible thing. It seems to me that what we've got to do, if we're really serious about dealing with the deficit, is to take a look at those structural things, not only within Municipal Affairs but throughout the entire government, how we structure our programs, how we deal with planning, so that in the longer run we're able to make the structural changes that need to be done to save money.

Let me give you an example, and I'll just divert for two seconds, if you'll be patient, Mr Speaker. Look at the system of health care. We spend more than a third of our entire expenditures in this province on the system of health care. If we look at just one sector, the hospital sector, that hospital sector was set up back in the 1960s, in the days when hospitals were needed at almost every street corner; every community had to have one. What we've allowed to happen over a period of 20 or 30 years is to say that those hospitals should be maintained at all costs and the services they provide must also remain intact.

I'm afraid to say this the way I am, because I think the Tories might just salivate and say, "Jeez, he's agreeing with us." But the point I'm trying to make is that we have not allowed for long-term planning in the health care system and in the hospital sector to take advantage of the changes in technologies, both with how we deliver health care from a technical standpoint and from an administrative standpoint.

It seems to me that if we're serious about curbing the deficit and going in the right direction so we balance our budget over the shorter or longer term, we don't make a humongous change right at the beginning and say, "Chop, chop, chop, the problem's fixed." That ain't going to fix nothing. I would argue that the cuts being done now are going to lead us to problems down the road that will probably increase our deficit in the longer term.

If the principles of Bill 163 under the Municipal Planning Act were applied to how we deal with our health care system, for example, I think we would be able to take a look at all the issues up front and determine: How do we need to provide health care in northeastern Ontario or in the Cochrane district? Where do we truly need to have emergency wards to serve the people of Ontario? Where do we need first aid stations instead of emergency wards, where we may not have medical coverage now? What health practitioners are best able to deal with the needs and wants of the community when it comes to health care? Should we be using midwives to deliver babies in most cases? Should we be using orthopaedics to set broken limbs and legs when it used to be done by John Smith, the local practitioner, 20 years ago?

If you look at all that kind of stuff, that's where you save your bucks in the longer run. I think that's the approach we have to take in planning. I know that's a bit of a leap of faith, but the point I'm trying to make is that if you don't look at planning up front in terms of what it means over the longer term, you might get the short-term savings up front in saving the developer a few bucks by doing away with some of what they consider the thorns of having to go through a good planning process, and you might even get the economic stimulus right at the beginning where the person wants to come in and invest, but in the longer run it costs your community and it costs the province a heck of a lot of money.

To do good planning what we need to do is look at those issues up front that are important to the community and important to the developer and you learn how to balance all that out. That's what I would say on that.

On the question of urban sprawl, I really believe that where the government is going with Bill 20 is to allow urban sprawl to continue and actually precipitate itself from what it is now. I would say that would be a lot more expensive in the long run.

The other thing I would like to get on to is the question of the Development Charges Act. Should I go into that right away? I think I'm going raise the irk of a few members on the other side. What the heck, let's wake them up.

The Development Charges Act is one place where I really part company with the minister. I can support some of the ideas he's trying to get under Bill 20. I still maintain that we should have allowed Bill 163 to work, and it should have stayed "be consistent with" provincial policies. Anyway, where I really have a big problem is under the Development Charges Act, because what you've got here is a demonstration of where this government is at.


At every opportunity, this government has really let it be known where their friends are. There's no question about that. The first thing this government did upon coming to power was to deal with how you take away services and benefits from the people in our society who most need them. I don't need to go through and explain what all those were, because I think we know. We saw the reductions to social services. We see user fees on both the health care system and on prescription drugs. There are all kinds of examples.

The point is that the government is quite good at figuring out how to target that sector of our society and saying, "If you're poor, if you're disabled, if you're sick, if you're a senior, you'll be treated one way." But when it comes to the other side of the coin, those people in our society who are most able to take care of themselves, the government has been seen to be a lot more lenient, and I would say quite generous, in how they deal with that sector.

We've seen today one bill in the House where we've taken away the filing fee for corporations, the minimal $50 they have to pay to register themselves as a corporation in the province of Ontario -- done with. They get a cut, they get a savings.

With the tax cut of some $5 billion that we're going to be seeing passed on to taxpayers, by and large the biggest beneficiaries of that will be people with incomes over $60,000 to $70,000. I think it demonstrates that this government is really interested in giving a hand up to those people who least need it and putting a hand down on those people who need the help of government the most.

The Development Charges Act points to that again. The government is saying they want to move to a system where developers only have to pay for the cost of developing what are called "hard services" in municipal jargon. What that means is simply that the developer, in bringing forward land to development, will only have to pay in development charges to the municipality what's necessary to put the hard services in place -- sewers, roads, sidewalks, street lights, those kinds of things -- if charges are applicable.

But on soft services, the question that if you do a development in a particular area it will overcapacitate a school, there's no accounting for this under the Development Charges Act that's talked about in this bill and that'll be coming. The developer won't have to pay any of that. If, for example, the development is happening in an area where there is an existing community park and possibly a community centre or a skating arena or a swimming pool or whatever, there is no accounting for the increased pressure that'll be put on those services by the new residents coming into that community. There's no accounting for that in the Development Charges Act.

"We want to separate out," says the government of Ontario, the Mike Harris government, that the developer will only have to pass on to the person who buys the lot and eventually gets the house built that money necessary to support the development of hard services. The problem is that it's really unfair for everybody else who's in the bloody area. What that does to me as a ratepayer in the city of Timmins or wherever it might be is that I'm going to have to subsidize the developer and the person who wants that house built, the person who's going to hold the mortgage, the cost of developing their lots so they can use my services that I've paid for.

I would think that in a Mike Harris Ontario, one of common sense, we would say we need to balance off. If we're going to build this huge subdivision next to the existing soft services -- schools, parks, arenas, libraries etc -- we have to make sure that when these lots come into development and the buildings are built, the cost of maintaining and building those particular services are accounted for in the development charges so we don't have to pass on that added cost to the rest of the ratepayers within the community. That points to where this government is at.

I admit that the Development Charges Act will make it a lot more attractive for the developer to offer a piece of property for development to a particular buyer. I was reading an article recently in one of the trade publications that the development charges in, I think it was one of the cities around Ottawa, are somewhere around $20,000 or $22,000 per lot, but that's taking into account the soft and hard services charged for that development. If you were to take away the cost of development charges for soft services passed on to the buyer of the home, it could be down to somewhere around $8,000 to $10,000.

The homeowner who's buying and the developer say: "That's a saving for me. I'm all right, Jack. That's great." But stop and think about it. It's all the neighbours who are paying for it. That means my tax dollars are going to subsidize the development of that piece of land. Is that fair? I don't think it is.

I think how the government is dealing with all of this is in keeping with what they're all about. The government is demonstrating quite well that they really want to carry out their promise of giving people a hand up. The only problem is, they've got it backwards. They're going to give a hand up to those people who need it the most and they're going to put the hand down on those people who can least afford it and push them back into the ground.

I say to the minister that is something we'll deal with a little bit later when you bring forward the Development Charges Act, but there will be some difficulty when you bring this legislation forward. A number of people and municipalities that I've been speaking to across the province do have a problem with the idea as you've presented it. I wouldn't say they're unanimously opposed -- that would not be fair and I don't think it would be truthful in saying that -- but there is a big problem.

The other thing is that allowing that to happen adds to what you can call the environmental deficit, that if you allow development to go forward unchecked, there's an environmental cost in the long run. This bill's whole approach really plays on that.

Before I get into the apartment and houses section of the act and the Ontario Heritage Act, there are a couple of other areas that also speak to the government's willingness to diminish the rights of people in a democracy. You saw in this House, Mr Speaker, when you were here last week, that members of the opposition vociferously had to take on the government to force public hearings on Bill 26, which deals with all kinds of areas around the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and others in regard to how it takes away the rights of individuals.

We're seeing in this act again some of that same approach we find under Bill 26. I'm not suggesting that we as opposition members will engage in those kinds of tactics for what's here, because I would agree it's not as severe as what we find in 26. But there are some things here in Bill 20 that are quite troubling.

One is that presently in Ontario, if you own agricultural land and you want to sever that land, there's a rule that says you can only sever it once. There are good reasons for that. But the rules also say --

Good day, Mr Speaker, the Mr Speaker who's just walking in. The changing of the guard is happening here. I'm doing a play-by-play for people.

One thing that happens in regard to land severances today is that if you're living on a rural concession road and the neighbour down the street who owns, let's say, 100 acres of land and wants to sever off a piece of property on the corner closest to you and allow a five-acre severance to be taken off to allow somebody to make some kind of development, a house or whatever kind of construction would go on there, there needs to be a public meeting posted so that all the residents in the area are able to go and comment on that land severance.

One of the things the government is doing is taking away the requirement to do a public notice when it comes to land severances. That's not a major move away from democracy, and I don't want to paint it that way, but that's quite troubling. If I'm living on rural route 4 somewhere and the neighbour down the street is going to sever off a piece of land that's right on the corner of my property and something's going to be constructed there that I don't really approve of, I would at least want to have the opportunity to have my comments heard so they can be taken into account by the developer and the planners and the municipality, so I am looked at as a real human being who has some actual concerns about that development and it allows the municipal officials and the process to deal with whether my objection is frivolous or not.


Quite frankly, one of the tenets of our democracy is to say we in a democratic society have to allow people to be able to come forward and to express themselves freely without any kind of restriction when it comes to how they feel their government or the citizens around them are dealing with their rights or dealing with how they work their way into our society. I think the government, in doing this -- and if you take a look at Bill 26, there are all kinds of examples that are far more serious than this one, but I would only make the point that in Bill 20 we have yet another example of how this government is taking away the ability of people to express themselves through the democratic process.

I know if the minister were given the opportunity to pop up in his place now, he would say, "Well, you know, we want to do away with all of those people who get up and just hold up development for no good reason, because if you pop up those meetings and you allow those people to come, all kinds of people are going to go there and say all kinds of nasty things and just slow down the process."

I say what I said under Bill 26. Democracy does have a price, and you can't put a price tag on that. That's the fundamental tenet of what this society is all about. If it means to say that I as a person who wants to sever off the land am going to be inconvenienced by two or three or four weeks in doing that severance, I think that's part of the price and part of the cost of what a democracy is all about. It's not unreasonable to allow people the opportunity to go meet with their neighbours and to take a look and be notified about what the severance is all about. If I have an objection, I should be allowed to raise that objection and let people know.

What it's going to do in addition is it's going to limit my ability to go to the OMB on those severances, because how am I going to be able to, if I have an objection, get to the OMB if I don't even hear about it? It is troublesome in the least.

The other one is the whole question that there is a removal -- and again there are two sides to this story and again I want to be fair to the minister. On minor variances, we're not going to allow people to appeal to the OMB. I guess the argument could be made by some municipalities and by the minister or the Ministry of Municipal Affairs that minor variances are quite frankly not that troublesome, and why should we allow people to take up time of the OMB in being able to bring that forward to a hearing? After all, the OMB process does cost the taxpayers money and we shouldn't allow people to get in there with frivolous or vexatious kinds of appeals.

I think it comes back again to what we talked about in Bill 26. You look at one section of Bill 26; I think it's a section under the freedom of information act that is being amended under Bill 26, and I do hope I got the title right. It talks about how people are going to be prevented from being able to obtain information from the municipal governments or provincial governments if the municipality or the province feels that the person who is trying to get the information is acting in a way that is vexatious.

Again we come back to that same theme in this act. The whole idea is that they're saying, by not allowing minor variances to go forward to the OMB and allowing people the right to appeal, that somehow the person who is appealing a minor variance is being vexatious.

Let me give you an example just to put this in terms that people can understand who are watching back home. Let's say that you live at 246 Middleton, where I live, in the community of Timmins, and your neighbour next door decides that he wants to build a carport or he wants to build a garage in his backyard or whatever it might be that's an addition to his property.

As it stands now, the person goes and tries to get a permit at the city building department. If there is a reason why the person is not able to get it because they are going to be building over a certain percentage of the property -- different municipalities have different rules, but let's say you're only allowed to build on 40% of your lot, and building that carport or building that garage or whatever it might be would bring your total building on the lot up to 50% -- you would have to go to the committee of adjustment to be able to do that.

Presently, I have the right to object to that. If I feel the person next door who's trying to do that extra construction on his lot is going to interfere with my property and how I interface with the property itself, I have the right to, first of all, go to the committee of adjustment. If I'm unsatisfied with what the committee of adjustment has decided, I have the right to go to the OMB.

I think if you look at the history in a fair manner, there have been very few cases before the OMB that have been frivolous when it comes to those issues. I can tell you that in the five years that I've been the member for Cochrane South, and my involvement in the municipality before that, I can count on a hand, and less than a hand, quite frankly, the amount of people who have gone forward. I look at my friend Mr Crozier here and I would look for a nod of approval on that one. There are not a lot of people who go to the OMB on questions of minor variances. I don't think it's been a very big problem.

So if it's not a problem, why are we taking it out of the act? I think it speaks back to what the whole issue is about this government, which is that they really believe in their hearts and souls that they know what's best and they have to allow development and they have to allow economic growth to happen at any cost. If it happens to get in the way of democracy, so be it. Get rid of the democracy.

I just say to the government, that is, I think, the part that I'm really having the biggest difficulty with in adjusting to you as a government on the other side of the House. I accept that you won an election. I accept that you're going to make changes to the laws of Ontario. I accept that you're going to make Ontario look more in the vision of what you believe in as a party. I may not like it, but I accept it. But where I really take exception and where I really part company with you is the whole idea of what this government is doing, to say: "We know best. Don't challenge us, and if you do, you ain't going to have the law to do it on your side any more because we're taking those laws away and we're going to do away with your democratic rights."

So I say taking away minor variances is really a silly, silly move on the part of the government because I think in the end it will buy you more problems in political capital than you'll ever get in regards to getting developers onside with you, because it is really a very dangerous precedent to be setting.

The other thing I want to say, and I want to come to a point, in regards to the act is I think the one that troubles me the most. I see my colleague from Sudbury East is here, the former Minister of Northern Development and Mines. She would understand and I think sympathize with what I'm about to say here. One of the changes in the act says the Ministry of Municipal Affairs will now be the only ministry that can appeal to the OMB a decision of planning.

I can tell you that is troubling to the nth degree because there are all kinds of experts who work across the ministries of the province of Ontario, be it the Ministry of Municipal Affairs or the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Ministry of Natural Resources, who are there looking out for the interests of the people of Ontario. If we're saying to this province and we're saying to those people that the only ones who can go forward and appeal to the OMB -- I guess we're turning our backs on the history of this province in regards to how we've developed our system of government over the past number of years, because the one thing that we've tried to do as governments, all of us, be it Conservative, Liberal or New Democrat, is to learn from our mistakes, and we've all said in cases where there has been bad planning and bad decisions or in places where there have been environmental consequences to whatever has happened in regards to development, we need to learn from that and then we need to make sure we set policies in place that are consistent with good planning.

If you allow only the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to be able to comment on it, I'm afraid what will happen is that in those cases where development goes forward, where let's say the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines -- good friends of mine that they are -- have an actual concern that is legitimate and deep-rooted within a certain logic, if the Minister of Northern Development and Mines doesn't have the clout at the cabinet table that the Minister of Municipal Affairs has, guess who's going to win? That's how the process works.

So it's really going to put us in a bit of a difficult spot. In order to allow for sound planning, we will have to make sure that we put on the résumé of whoever's put into the cabinet as the Minister of Municipal Affairs, "Be the expert on almost everything," because in the end he or she will be the only minister who will have the final say about what development will go forward. Yes, the minister will be able to hear the arguments at the cabinet table and at the ante-rooms of government in regards to concerns that his colleagues may have on other issues around MNR or MOE, but in the end who's going to make the decision? C'est le ministre.

J'aimerais dire que je ne pense pas que ce soit vraiment la manière de procéder avec un système qui a du bon sens quand on alloue au ministre tellement de pouvoirs pour prendre des décisions sur la question de planification des municipalités. Je pense qu'on doit comprendre qu'on a besoin d'apprendre de nos erreurs du passé, qu'on a besoin de dire franchement, qu'on a besoin de regarder les exemples qui sont arrivés dans le passé, de mettre ça dans les politiques du gouvernement, de mettre ça dans les politiques de chacun des ministères, et qu'à la fin de la journée, que toutes ces histoires-là et l'historique soient mis en contexte quand ça en vient aux décisions.

Si on n'alloue pas aux ministères le pouvoir de faire appel à la décision du ministre des Affaires municipales, je pense franchement qu'on est en train de demander des problèmes très, très sérieux.


Ça m'amène à mon prochain point, qui est la question des appartements dans les maisons, les domiciles des individus. Une des affaires que notre gouvernement a fait avec une certaine fierté c'est qu'on a finalement essayé de mettre au quart du temps toute la question des appartements au domicile des résidents. Ce qu'on a eu dans le passé c'était une situation où les municipalités et les individus à travers la province avaient chacun des règlements différents quand ça en vient au développement des appartements dans les maisons dans les municipalités.

Si on demeurait dans la ville de Timmins, c'était possible qu'on alloue à M. Tanguay, qui reste à tel et tel coin, la chance de bâtir un appartement dans son sous-sol et de louer ça à quelqu'un pour faire un peu d'argent pour payer son hypothèque sur sa maison.

Mais on a une autre situation dans la ville d'Ottawa, possiblement, où on n'avait pas cette pratique-là parce qu'on pensait que ce n'était pas une bonne idée. Ce qu'on a fait dans la province de l'Ontario avec le gouvernement de Bob Rae et avec ma collègue Mme Gigantes, qui était la ministre du Logement dans le temps, on a regardé cette question-là et on a dit, «On a besoin d'une politique uniforme à travers la province pour que chacun des citoyens et chacune des citoyennes soit traité également quand ça en vient à la loi de développement des appartements dans les maisons.»

La Loi 120 a mis en place des règlements qui disent que les municipalités n'ont pas le droit de dire non à M. et Mme Tremblay qui veulent développer un appartement dans leur maison. Parce que quoi qu'il arrive, c'est encore et toujours l'histoire que la roue qui fait le plus de bruit, c'est celle sur laquelle on met de l'huile, n'est-ce pas ? La manière que ça a marché dans le passé et que ça marche encore aujourd'hui c'est tel quel.

On va dire que moi, je suis la personne qui a acheté une maison dans une subdivision quelque part dans une communauté, disons, la ville de Timmins -- c'est dans une subdivision qui est assez bien en affaires ; ce sont des maisons de 200 000 $, 220 000 $ ; ce sont tous des docteurs, des maîtresses et du monde avec beaucoup d'argent -- et que moi, petit mineur de la mine McIntyre, je me sauve un peu d'argent et je décide que je veux aller me bâtir une maison dans ce coin-là.

Je bâtis ma maison et je dis : «Pour être capable de la payer, j'aurai vraiment besoin d'un peu d'argent d'extra. Ce que je vais faire, je vais bâtir ma maison et je vais mettre un appartement dans mon sous-sol ou je vais mettre un appartement en haut de la maison, et le locataire va me payer 500 $, 600 $, 700 $, 800 $ par mois et ça va m'aider à payer mon hypothèque. De cette manière, je pourrai me sauver un peu d'argent dans le futur pour me préparer pour ma retraite.»

Les municipalités, dans beaucoup de cas, elles disaient non. Pourquoi ? C'est bien simple. Parce que les personnes qui restent dans ces communautés-là, dans ces banlieues-là, elles ont dit : «Non, non, non. Je ne veux pas avoir des locataires sur le bien-être social rester chez nous, dans mon quartier. Voyons, je suis médecin, je suis avocat, je suis conseiller de la municipalité, je ne veux pas avoir ces personnes-là venir rester chez nous. Imagine-toi, ils vont venir et ils vont avoir des chiens, des chats, des petits enfants, et ça va être trop de trouble. Ça va être tous du monde sur le bien-être social à boire du Coke, de la bière, et à manger des chips.»

Ils allaient voir leur conseiller municipal et ils disaient, «Je ne veux pas que tu alloues à cette personne-là le droit de bâtir un appartement dans son sous-sol.» C'est qui qu'il écoutait ? Est-ce que c'était le petit mineur qui essayait de bâtir sa maison et son rêve pour le future ? Ben non, il n'a pas de voix, ce gars-là. C'est un petit mineur de la mine McIntyre, un homme très important dans l'économie locale, un homme qui a travaillé très fort et qui travaille très fort pour son employeur, une personne avec un respect et une humilité très digne pour la société, le père de famille. Il n'a pas de voix avec le conseil municipal. «C'est qui ce gars-là ?» C'est M. Tremblay, mais parce que les voisins dans le quartier, c'est du monde qui sont mieux en affaires, ils ont l'oreille du conseil municipal.

C'est pour ça qu'on n'a pas permis les appartements à être bâtis dans beaucoup de cas dans ces municipalités-là et que nous, on a dit, comme gouvernement néo-démocrate : «Écoute, on a besoin de règles qui sont égales à travers la province qui traitent tout le monde de la même façon, qu'on n'ait pas une situation qui dit que parce que ton nom c'est M. Jones et que M. Jones a plus de poids dans la municipalité que M. Tremblay, on va écouter M. Jones.» On a dit : «Non, ce n'est pas vrai, ce n'est pas bon. Ce n'est pas ça sur quoi une démocratie est basée.»

Alors, on a dit que c'est important qu'on développe un système où les lois sont égales pour tout le monde et on a mis en place la Loi 120, qui dit que les municipalités ne peuvent pas dire non à M. Tremblay, que l'on l'alloue.

Le problème avec tout ça, ce sont deux points : premièrement, on va retourner au système où ceux qui ont l'oreille du conseiller vont avoir le pouvoir de dire non parce que ce sont eux qui ont l'oreille du conseiller. L'autre affaire que je trouve vraiment un peu drôle, c'est que le gouvernement conservateur, qui est supposé être celui qui protège l'intérêt de notre économie et celui qui veut pousser l'économie en avant et allouer toute cette construction-là, dit non au secteur où il y aurait le plus de constructions dans le secteur de l'industrie de la construction dans notre province.

Je vous dis par exemple que j'ai rencontré ce matin des personnes de l'Association de construction de l'Ontario. Ils m'ont montré -- je ne l'ai pas avec moi -- un document qui démontre la construction de tous les contractuels qui sont avec eux autres depuis les derniers trois ans et le secteur dans lequel a été faite la plupart de la construction, dans le secteur du logement, dans les derniers deux ou trois ans. On ne parle pas des usines, parce qu'on sait bien qu'au gouvernement de M. Rae, avec l'aide de M. Hampton et de Mme Martel et autres, on a eu de la construction très, très majeure dans l'industrie forestière avec des nouveaux plans de bois -- des milliards et des milliards de dollars -- mais on parle ici seulement du secteur du logement, des appartements. La seule place où il y a eu une croissance d'appartements, c'est dans le secteur d'«apartments and houses» que l'on appelle en anglais.

Le gouvernement dit qu'il va non-allouer ça pour aller de l'avant et qu'il va ôter le droit des personnes de construire ces unités-là. Je dis au gouvernement que je pense que c'est vraiment un peu stupide.

Je pense franchement que si M. Leach, le ministre des Affaires municipales et du Logement, est sérieux d'allouer le développement et d'aller de l'avant, il regarderait cette provision de la loi et dirait, «Franchement, si je suis sérieux» -- comme il le dit dans ses propres mots, il va développer 20 000 unités d'appartements dans la province de l'Ontario par le secteur privé dans les prochains quatre ans. Il ferait bien mieux de se dépêcher et de remettre cette loi en place. C'est la seule manière dont ça va arriver. On sait que la politique du gouvernement est d'ôter le contrôle sur les loyers, et vendre au secteur public les logements va nuire, je pense, au développement complet quand ça vient à être capable de développer des appartements dans la province.

On the question of apartments in houses, I would just say I find it quite ironic, because on the one hand the government is saying, "We are going to allow 20,000 apartment units to be developed in the province of Ontario by freeing up the market and freeing up the developers to do so," yet they are taking away one of the areas of growth that quite frankly a lot of contractors have had to rely on.

I had an opportunity I think about a week or two ago where my friend Reg Magnay up at Feldman Timber and I were talking about how the construction business was this year, as he is a supplier of construction materials. One thing he said to me was: "Gilles, you know, the only thing that's really going on in construction today is people who are either doing renovations in their homes or people who are building apartments in their basements. That's the biggest part of where we're getting our business from now. It's not from new construction and new apartments."

I would say if you want those 20,000 units to go forward, it's not the sole way of doing it, through apartments in houses, but I certainly think that's one of the areas you can leave alone for now in order to allow people the opportunity to develop those apartment units so that people will have them at their disposal as far as tenants, but more importantly, so that mortgage holders have an opportunity to pay down their mortgages by being able to have renters in their buildings, if they so choose. So I would say that's a bit of a thing.

The other thing I'd like to comment on in the time that I have left is the question of the Ontario Heritage Act. This is one part of the act that we really haven't talked about. There hasn't been any debate on the heritage act and it's been quite quiet, as far as debate, in the public media. I just want to get on the record yet again that I think we have here what could be termed as a pretty troublesome area of the bill; I wouldn't say a major one, but it's a pretty troublesome area. There are a couple of things in the bill that I think are fairly significant that need to be mentioned.

The first one is the amendment to section 67 of the heritage act, which will say, "We will no longer need to give notice of three consecutive weeks when work is being done that's termed to be in conflict with the heritage act." That's to say, in plain terms, if there's going to be a development that's going to deal with the natural heritage of our area, if a development of some type is going to change the geographic makeup of an area that's considered to be under the protection of the heritage act, presently the way it works is that you have to give notice of three consecutive weeks through the media in order to let the public know what's going on so they can have time to come forward to hear what the proposals are, to study what's going to be done and then decide if this is something that they're in agreement or disagreement with.


Again, this is very much in keeping with what the government is doing. In doing away with the public notification requirements of the act, what you're doing is taking away the ability of people to exercise their democratic rights. How am I going to be able to exercise my democratic rights if I don't know until after the fact that something has gone on? In the 1990s, at a time where I think our society has come to terms with the question of the environment in so far as we understand that the environment is something that we need to work at diligently in order to be able to protect the fine balance that exists within nature in regard to how the environment needs to be treated, we need to make sure that people are as aware as humanly possible when it comes to questions that'll affect the environment.

One of the things the heritage act now provides for is that if a developer is going to do something that is considered to be in conflict with what the idea of the heritage act is, the public has to be notified, and there's a public process which we go through to let people know that this work will be going on. In doing away with the notification period under the heritage act, we're going to allow development to go forward without anybody really knowing about what happens until it's too late.

The other thing that goes on too is, there is a section in the act I'd really like to hear the minister's comment on, because I think it's an interesting one. Under section 48 of the act there is a provision that the minister needs to contact the Ontario Heritage Foundation whenever archaeological digs are going on. I guess the idea is that the Ontario Heritage Foundation is the repository of information in regard to what happens and what has happened in our society in times past: Were there graveyards there; was it a sacred burial ground etc? If I'm going to go and do some archaeological digging or do some kind of work that I think will come in conflict with that, the minister is required under the act to consult the Ontario Heritage Foundation in order to identify a problem before it happens. One of the things the act does is, it says under section 48 that the minister won't have to do that any more.

I would just remind people of the trouble that we've gotten ourselves into over the past number of years with our first nations people by not listening to their warnings about how we deal with areas that they consider to be sacred burial places of people who went before them. When our society has said we're not going to respect that and we're just going to go in and dig them up and put in a golf course, such as what was happening in Oka, or what's happened in other communities across Ontario over the past number of years, I think that really we're asking for trouble. If there was a section in the heritage act that required the minister to go to the Ontario Heritage Foundation, it was recognizing that there had been problems with this in the past, and before we allow a problem to happen we should be consulting with the experts in order to make sure that we've covered off all the bases and know what kind of trouble we're getting ourselves into from the beginning.

In summary I would only say that I think Bill 20 in regard to this particular bill is problematic not only for us in the opposition, but I would say it's going to be problematic for the people of Ontario over the longer term. I would predict that in the short term it will probably lead to some new construction that is much needed within the construction industry; I don't think I would argue that. But I think in the long run we are going to be putting ourselves in a position with this act that is really going to lead to a lot of bad planning decisions that'll end up costing us money.

The first concern, as I said, was the whole question of what happens in only having regard to provincial policies rather than being consistent with -- what we've tried to learn in this Legislature and what we've tried to learn in business, for that fact, being any good business person, is that you want to learn from your mistakes, so you develop policies in a company; you develop policies in a government. The idea is that you don't repeat the same mistake twice, and only having regard for that is really putting us in a tough spot.

The minister would have been better served in the beginning to say, if he has problems with the policies -- and I would agree there were some problems with those policies in regard to how they were drafted. Our own government I think recognized that and was willing to deal with it in time of office, because those policies were only drafted last spring. I think we should have brought those policies back to some sort of public process where people have an opportunity to comment on them, to be able to look at the policies and to make changes that are necessary to reflect the times.

The great thing about policy is that you don't have to come back to the Legislature at every opportunity to make it reflect the times. I think we could have had a system in place under Bill 163, if the government had kept it in place, where we could have allowed the technology and the times to keep pace with the policies of the province of Ontario so that they are reflected in our planning. That would be one of the things that I would say in regard to this.

The other thing I would say, again, is the whole question of the Development Charges Act. I think it's going to lead to yet again another example of the government saying, "We can give our friends, the people who are well off in this province, another hand up this spring when we bring forward the Development Charges Act." The opportunity to pass on development charges, when it comes to soft services, we would have been a lot better off to stay away from that whole area because it'll end up costing the taxpayers many dollars. It's estimated, as I said, at about $1 billion.

As a last point I would like to quote from the Common Sense Revolution, the document that is held in esteem within the Conservative ranks of this Tory caucus and by a number of Conservatives across the province. It's held almost in reverence now. When we hold this document, when I open up these pages, I see people almost dropping to their knees because it's seen as such a hallowed document.

I would only again point to the document as another example of where this government is going in the whole question of municipalities, planning, taxes and all that, where the whole concept of only one taxpayer was brought forward inside this document. It says:

"Historically, municipalities have responded to provincial funding limits by simply increasing local property taxes. There may be numerous levels of government in this province, but there is only one level of taxpayer -- you.

"We will work closely with municipalities to ensure that any actions we take will not result in increases to local property taxes."

I think we've seen ample examples in the last couple of days, through question period, that indeed the tax increase that you and I will get as a result of the 30% reduction in provincial taxes that will come forward over the next couple of years will be passed on to the taxpayers. I would add that Bill 20 will add to those increases in taxes quite substantially with regard to the poor planning in the province of Ontario.

On that, I would like to thank members for the opportunity of listening to the debate and I look forward to this bill going to committee, where we will be able to comment more fully.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Any questions or comments on the member's remarks?

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I would like to respond to that as an ex-municipal politician. I have to agree with what the member for Cochrane South said when he quoted, "The golden text of Bill 163 was not perfect." That's probably the most underrated statement that's been said in this House in some time.

What that bill did and what this one doesn't was to put planning back in Ontario, period. This puts it back in the hands of the municipalities, which is where it should be. I've talked to two municipalities today, visited all of them in the riding as well as other areas in the county. All of them want the terminology that says "give regard to." There's absolutely no doubt in any of our minds that you have to have policies, you have to have guidelines, but the wording of "consistent with" put planning solely in the hands of the Ontario government, not in the hands of the people. What happens in southern Ontario may not be what should happen in northern Ontario. If you have the policies and the guidelines in place, then we must have some type of confidence in these municipalities to do this.

What Bill 163 did and what Bill 20 does not do: It devastated development in rural Ontario; it protected the environment solely at the expense of people. What we're trying to do with this bill is to turn around the economic situation in this province, which this bill will do, but we're also going to protect the environment. God forbid, under Bill 163, whoever found a three-eared frog, because you couldn't build for 100 miles around it and that was devastating and hurting rural Ontario. This bill puts development and planning back into the hands of the people in the municipalities, where they should be, and lets them control their own development with the help of developers and planners like my colleague.


The Speaker: The time has expired. Further statements or comments?

Mr Bradley: I want to recommend again, for those who may not have been in the House earlier, two special reports. I was speaking to the author of these reports -- one of the authors of one of the reports and the other of the other report. I recommend to all members of the Legislature the paper by Dr Joseph Kushner of Brock University on both these matters once again. I know the member when he was speaking was making some of the points that are contained within that.

I should mention, by the way, that Dr Kushner is originally from South Porcupine and therefore has some affinity probably with the member for Cochrane South. He's been a long-time resident of St Catharines.

Again, when you're looking at the whole issue of development, I think there should be a very detailed study. I don't know whether the province can initiate it. That could be part of it, and I mentioned one of the papers is going to be published in the next Canadian Tax Journal. But it would be interesting for municipal politicians to see the effect of probably more residential development than anything else and its impact on the community and the costs to the community and whether in the long run it's worthwhile, unless there are other components to that development.

I guess the best developments everybody looks at if you're developing a community is a combination of commercial and residential and industrial. If everybody could have that, they would like to have it. I know that the member who just spoke was putting forward those cautions which are always necessary in any one of these bills.

One of the advantages we have, and the government will appreciate this as well, I'm sure, is that we will public input as there is travel across the province, I believe, with this bill in the intersession. The kind of input we get on this bill I think will be as valuable as it is on Bill 26, and as a result I hope again we have a perfected piece of legislation.

The Speaker: Any further comments? Minister?

Hon Mr Leach: A couple of comments to my friend opposite and good critic. I congratulate him on putting 90 minutes worth of well-thought comments into the record.

There are a few issues that we differ on, but I don't think we differ a great deal on the philosophy. One of the areas I think that we differ more than others is the definition of "be consistent with." In my view, "be consistent with" means "Do what we tell you," whereas "have regard to" says, "Please take into consideration the big picture when you're making your local decisions." That's what I think the message is we're trying to get across, that planning and development should be something that's done as close to the local scene as it's possible to do.

But again I agree that Ontario belongs to us all and that we should try and take into consideration the big picture, but development varies from southern Ontario to northern Ontario and from western Ontario to eastern Ontario. So if we take into consideration, if we have regard to, what everyone else is doing, I think that works better than "be consistent with," which is "Do what we tell you."

The Speaker: Further questions or debate? The member for Cochrane South for two minutes.

Mr Bisson: I would only say to the minister this, and to the other member from the Conservative Party, and I'm unfamiliar with the riding, unfortunately. In the question of changing "be consistent with" and "have regard to" as an intrusion on to municipal powers, what you're basically saying is that it'll force municipalities to do all the same thing across the entire province of Ontario without having regard for the geographic area that they find themselves in. I say that's easily fixed through the policies themselves.

I think there are general policies that reflect good planning that are applicable to all municipalities no matter where the geographic area is, but in those cases where specifically you have to take into account those particular differences in geography or weather or whatever it might be, I think those are easily dealt with through the policies.

I return to the point that I made. I think the problem that we're going to get into here is that if you make it only "have regard to," what'll happen is that each municipality will interpret the rules and the policies of the province in its own way, and you will have no ability as the minister to enforce good planning on those municipalities in cases where they don't do good planning.

What you'll end up with in the end is that developers will line up at the Ontario Municipal Board three deep saying: "God, I've got a development that's going to go forward. If I was living in Sudbury, they'd allow me to do it, but in Timmins, because they're interpreting the rules differently because of the `have regard to' provisions, they don't want to let me go forward." They'll bring that darned development to the Ontario Municipal Board. I think that's a problem.

I think the minister could guard his much-cherished view, which I think I can agree with to a certain extent, by allowing municipalities to deal with planning on an individual basis when it comes to specific local concerns by enacting that within the policies themselves and the regulations. I think it allows you, as minister, quite frankly, more freedom and flexibility to be able to recognize that.

The Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): It's a pleasure for me to rise this evening to speak to this bill. I don't know what it is I've done in the past, but it seems to me that in the past week or so the only time that I draw on the schedule is late at night. They must think I'm a night-hawk in the Liberal caucus.

Mr Bisson: They're calling you a ghoul.

Mr Crozier: Yes. What I would like to say at the outset is to make note of what might not be noticed as significant to anyone else outside of the riding of Essex South, but I am pleased, Minister, to see that section regarding the township of Pelee in the county of Essex. It is assigned the authority to give consent, and consequently it's also given the authority to approve the exercise of power of sale and foreclosure and the authority to issue certificates with a validation of title.

Colleagues, the township of Pelee is really Pelee Island and several other little islands towards the centre of Lake Erie. To give any special status to Pelee Island is a recognition of a unique part of my riding. Pelee Island is an island of about 200 residents. For many years, of course, it's been primarily farm land and still is.

But Pelee Island is facing many of the pressures that rural Ontario, as we know it, is facing, and that is that development for tourism is competing for some prime agricultural land. Some of the finest grapes that are grown in southern Ontario are grown on Pelee Island. So it's this pressure of development for tourism, for water sport, marinas and that sort of thing that Pelee Island faces. So I'm sure they appreciate that they will have some significant control over their destiny, although it, I'm sure, won't make their job any easier because, as I say, of this competition.

Also in Essex South, I might say, when it comes to planning issues, when it comes to development, because we're surrounded on three sides by water, there are significant marshlands. Therefore we also face the problem of development that may infringe on these wetlands. I would hope that in this increased authority that's given to local municipalities there still is that ability that we might be able to save these wetlands so that we don't infringe on them to the point that we lose them.

Also I might point out a geographical significance of Essex South. It fits in with the problems with planning and development and competition. If you take the cardinal points of the compass from Essex South and you go 200 miles north, south, east or west, why, you are in the United States. For example, if you go north 200 miles on the cardinal point of the compass, you're in the state of Michigan; if you go south, you're in the state of Ohio; if you go east, you're in the state of Pennsylvania; and if you go west, you're in the state of Illinois.


Why do I tell you this? Because, as I said, there's a lot of competition, a lot of pressure on those of us in Essex South to develop industrially because just across the border there are 4 million people who surround us and from a competitive standpoint it's an ideal place for industry to locate. But as several of my colleagues have mentioned earlier, we have to balance that with the fact that prime agricultural land can't just simply be built on and paved over. Those are of concern to each of the communities.

Earlier this evening, we were trying to think of the correct word when my colleague from St Catharines was complimenting the minister on the fact that there's no mention in this of bonusing. That was the word we were looking for, where municipalities can give any advantage to industry to come in and thereby encourage the development of agricultural land. Because bonusing, as many of us know, is giving tax breaks, essentially, to industry to come in and develop. What's happened in many places in the United States is many counties in the United States have simply gone bankrupt because they have given too many advantages to industry in the way of tax concessions or bonusing, as we call it.

In fact, I think the previous government sent out a questionnaire as to how we felt in our municipalities about bonusing. I think that was rejected as one of the options that municipalities would like to have. Many counties and municipalities in the United States have simply gone broke because they gave too many advantages to industry and once the time of the advantage had expired, the length of time, for example, that they may have been given some concession on their realty taxes, industry simply moved on to somewhere else where they were able to get a better bonus.

So notwithstanding those pressures from the area that surrounds us and from industry wanting to develop in Essex South, we've been able, I think, to maintain a balance in our area.

I think back to my municipal days when I was on town council and when I was mayor. Planning and zoning changes were the most difficult area that I had to deal with. I hope this is attributed to the right source, but I had heard over the years and I've repeated that Mayor Mel Lastman said that, "Developers are not to be feared, but they are a force to be reckoned with."

I think that's another challenge that's facing the municipalities, whether they have more authority under the proposals that are brought before us in this Bill 20 or whether it was the previous act or whether it may be changes that are made in the future, that one of the difficulties that will always face municipalities is to plan properly and then having official plans in place to properly zone. Because it seemed to me no matter what choice you made, there was always someone else who felt it should be done differently, and they had good reason. We would have developers come to us and they would want to develop in a zone that was not designated or even covered under the official plan. They always had good reason that they should develop in a certain area of the municipality, but you had to weigh that against the plan that you had for the future and how you wanted your municipality to develop.

I suspect that many years ago, before any of us were concerned too much about official plans, many of our communities just grew rather ad hoc and what we're dealing with now are situations that have developed over many, many years that we're trying to improve and change and make better, obviously, for the future.

I noticed in the bill there are a couple of areas that I'd just like to comment on this evening. One is that the time frames for processing applications is to be shortened. I think we all appreciate that. Again, developers put a great deal of money, time and effort into plans and proposals that they bring before a municipality.

In turn, the municipalities themselves spend a lot of time with their staff in reviewing these plans and proposals. In the meantime, if this takes a long time, there are a couple of things that are lost, not the least of which is the developer's time and money that they have invested, and also the municipality, if it ends up being a benefit to the municipality, is losing assessment dollars. Any effort that can be made to shorten this time I know will be one that will be appreciated by both the municipalities and the developers.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs as well "will be identified as the only provincial ministry that can appeal a planning decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. This will ensure the province speaks with one voice on planning matters." Again, I think that's a good move. In my municipal experience, where developers have come to us, they've spent months literally going from one ministry to another, in some cases coming down to Queen's Park, trying to be helpful in moving their planning process through the various ministries. So I think any time we can speak with one voice and any developer and/or municipality can go to one place and get the answer they want or at least get the direction they want will be most helpful. So I'm pleased to see that's been put in place.

The one item about the right of appeal to the OMB on minor variances will be removed. I'd like to comment on that because I don't think I've ever been able to find a definition of what a minor variance is. A minor variance to me, because I'm the one who's trying to obtain it, might be something of more significance either to the municipality or to my neighbours. So the fact that either someone who's trying to obtain a minor variance can't then appeal that or someone who's obtained a minor variance and it can't be appealed by the neighbours is of concern to me, because these types of things are not always black and white. That's why I said that there's so much grey area in the planning and zoning decisions that are made.

Another item in the act will give local municipalities more control over planning decisions under their local official plans: I again can say from a municipal perspective, anything in this act that helps to give municipalities more power or more authority -- I hesitate to use the word "power" because we've talked an awful lot about that in this place in the last couple of weeks -- over your local decision-making I think is good if we again have the proper guidelines in place.

I think local authorities know their area best. I know we always felt that in Leamington and now that I'm representing a little broader area, I'm sure that's the case in places like Amherstburg and Harrow and Kingsville and Essex and all through the riding, that if the authority to plan, the authority to make their own decisions, within guidelines, can be made by local municipalities, why, certainly they will appreciate that much more.


A comment was made just a few minutes ago about planning decisions having to "be consistent with" provincial policy being deleted and "have regard to" provincial policies being inserted in its place. I assume that this is based on the assumption that planners and decision-makers, including the Ontario Municipal Board, know what this means and that they do take provincial policies seriously. It does, as a matter of fact, I guess, give local decision-makers a little more flexibility and discretion when they implement these policies, but again it's somewhat like a minor variance. If you don't have a clear definition of what "have regard to" means, it may make the decision-making process a little more difficult to cope with. But I suppose over time we'll find out whether this is better wording and more easily dealt with than has been in the previous bill, albeit it was only there a short period of time.

Also in the act I've noted that the government will review the environmental standards set out in provincial policy statements over the winter of 1995-96, and I know that we were all interested to realize that more than 600 pages of guidelines currently accompany the policy statements and they will be reviewed and, I see, significantly reduced. As I spoke earlier when we were speaking to Bill 6, any time that we can review, reduce and, in fact, rescind regulations, I think that will be helpful to all of us.

Again, when it comes to the environment, I'm concerned in my area because of the significant wetlands, the significant farm land. I might say, compared to my friends in Kent county, we think we have some of the finest farm land in Ontario, and I suppose I will agree that both counties have some of the finest farm land in Ontario. So we want to see that dealt with in an appropriate way.

Also, the new rules for apartments that were introduced by the Planning Act amendments that will allow municipalities to regain the authority to establish through zoning bylaws where new second units in houses are to be allowed and the types of houses where second units are to be allowed and what planning standards will apply: That's one area where I couldn't agree with you more, because albeit I've only been here a short period of time, only a couple of years, it was during that time that we got into second apartments in dwellings, and I had a great deal of difficulty with that.

I think back when I was again on council, on a municipal council, and when I was mayor, I really think that local municipalities should have the authority and the ability to designate what zoning will be applied to various areas, and I think the residents of any municipality have the right to expect that. If they have a residence that's zoned R1, I think they have the right to expect that that then won't at some time later be further developed with what we commonly refer to as "basement apartments," and that parking will become a problem, among a host of other things. At that time we spent a great deal of time talking about the safety of so-called basement apartments, and I'm very pleased to see that the government has now decided that it will attack that part of the previous legislation which I thought was unfair.

In spite of my attempts to use up my full time this evening -- and I know everyone here will be disappointed that I'm not -- I appreciate the opportunity to give a few comments to this. I know that we will be looking forward to discussing the bill at further length when it's in committee, when it's an atmosphere that allows for a little bit more discussion, but I think, for my part, that this bill has started on the way to making some significant improvements to the current legislation, and I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the time.

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I must rise and respond to the comments from my friend from Essex county. It was so nice of him to include us, we people in Kent county, as having equally as fine farm land. I'm sure Mr Hoy behind him will be happy to hear that too.

As to your comments about being late on the agenda lately and drawing the short straw, it obviously has something to do with the fact that you're much more mellow in the evening. It's so much nicer to hear you talk and wax eloquent at this time in the evening.

I must also make a comment about the fact that you actually come out in support of Bill 20. It's nice to see that as a former municipal politician you understand the attempts that we are making to streamline the process to give more power to municipalities so that they can in fact get on with their business.

My comments directed to my friend from Essex are all very complimentary and I appreciate his comments and his support of our endeavours.

Hon Mr Leach: I too would like to thank the member from Essex for his kind comments on the bill. It was nice to see so many issues be supported in a non-partisan way.

There were a couple of issues of course where we differ; minor variance is one. I believe that if there is any issue at all that a council of a municipality should have the authority to do, it would be to make a final decision on a minor variance. After all, the expression itself indicates that this is a minor issue. If the duly elected officials of a municipality don't have the power to rule on something as simplistic as a minor variance, they really do not have a whole lot of role to play.

Other than that, I was pleased to hear the comments of the member.

M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : Je dois tout d'abord dire félicitations à mon collègue d'Essex-Sud pour ses paroles concernant ce projet de loi. Je peux dire qu'il y a quelques points aussi qui m'inquiètent dans ce projet. Il s'agit de l'article 13, la partie 7(c). Je crois que, pour élaborer un peu, je peux dire que pour les petites municipalités qui sont limitées en le nombre d'employés, les dates indiquées ou les jours indiqués dans ce projet de loi, qui est 90 jours après le dépôt des amendements, on doit définitivement prendre en considération que dans les petites municipalités, nous n'avons pas les ressources nécessaires pour apporter ces modifications au projet de loi et aussi les soumettre au public.

There's also another section that I'm concerned with, subsection 17(1), which says:

"The council of a local municipality shall amend every official plan and every by-law passed under section 34 or a predecessor of it to conform with a plan that comes into effect as the official plan of a county, regional, metropolitan or district municipality."

Again, I wonder if we do all have the resources necessary. I do believe the faster we could pass it, it would eliminate the red tape. We always say that, but I'm really concerned with a small municipality, how they are going to achieve or to meet those 90 days as indicated in this bill.

But besides that, I have to say that I support the majority of this bill, and there are definitely some flaws in there that we have to look at.

Mr Gerretsen: I would like to respond to something the minister said, and that deals with a minor variance. As you stated, it's a minor matter and surely the municipalities should be dealing with it. I agree with that; in a theoretical sense that's correct. The problem is that's only looking at it from the municipality's viewpoint. You also have to look at it from the applicant's viewpoint. If we all agree it's a minor matter, if the applicant somehow doesn't feel that he or she has gotten justice from the municipality, then there ought to be a way to resolve that particular issue quicker and faster than having that person apply for a zoning change application.


As I stated earlier, the best way to do that, in my opinion, is to make sure the OMB can deal with that matter quickly and expediently. The main problem with the OMB traditionally has been that it would usually take anywhere from six months to a year to a year and a half to get a hearing. I know that process is a lot quicker right now. One of the ways in which you can do that, in my opinion, is to set aside certain members of the OMB -- obviously that number, or who those individuals are, can change from time to time -- to deal specifically with minor variance appeals so that they can deal with it quickly and expediently, and if an appeal is made on a minor variance, they can deal with it within, let's say, a matter of a month and a half to two months.

I think it's more of a question of an administrative matter to deal with it quickly, to have that independent body, away from the committee of adjustment and away from the council itself, make a final decision in those situations where the applicant and a municipality disagree.

The Speaker: The member for Essex South has up to two minutes to reply.

Mr Crozier: I think I very quickly should get up in my defence, as the member for Chatham-Kent suggested I get mellow. I don't want to be mistaken for being that. Maybe I'm just tired.

Mr Hoy: It's Christmas.

Mr Crozier: My colleague reminds me it's Christmas.

I appreciate his comments. Also, I don't want to go too far in endorsing this before we get past second reading and get this into committee. I do want to reserve that decision. But I think my words either were or should be that certainly I endorse the direction in which it's going.

The Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I want to make a few comments about the general direction of this bill. I suspect that most of what I have to say the government won't want to hear, but it's all the more important then that I say it, because I think that where the government is taking the province in the medium term and in the longer term is the wrong direction.

Let me say up front what I think this bill is about. This bill is about weakening environmental protection in the province and this bill is about reducing democracy when it comes to the development of land and the usage of land. That's what's really happening here. I think they're both wrong and I believe that in the not-too-distant future we will see how wrong they are and we will see what kind of environmental deficits and social deficits have been created to make a little bit of quick money for developers.

The minister himself has said in speeches that the problem with the existing Planning Act and the policy statements under it is that they go too far in protecting the environment, so he's been very clear about the government's motivation here.

That to me is a very sad comment. I would invite the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to read a very good book. It's called Preparing for the 21st Century. No less a Conservative than Kim Campbell recommends that people should read it, because it's a book that tries to look at the economic, the social, the environmental problems that the whole world has to confront as we enter the 21st century, and It tries to balance out some of those environmental, economic and social problems.

One of the conclusions it states very eloquently is that if you think you can squeeze some short-term economic growth out of the environment and you don't have to worry about creating a medium or longer term environmental deficit, then you're really on the wrong track, and in five or 10 years down the road you're going to find yourself paying more in terms of trying to repair what you've done than you're going to get in any sort of short-term economic stimulus.

I recommend that the minister have a look at that book before he proceeds further.

One of the things that I think we're going to see out of this bill, if it proceeds into legislation, is that it's going to create some economic externalities. It's going to lead to honest taxpayers subsidizing developers because part of what the government wants to do here is that it wants to say to developers: "You should be free to go ahead and develop new subdivisions. You should be free to go ahead and move towards urban sprawl. Don't worry that we may have to build new schools to facilitate this subdivision. Don't worry that we might have to put in a new public library to serve the subdivision. Don't worry about any of those things. The taxpayers will pick up those things."

What an incredible ripoff of taxpayers and what an incredible subsidy for those who are trying to make money on the development side. Government members will say that's not going to happen. I will tell you right now, if you follow the comments that the minister has made, and if you listen to the lobbying that's gone on by developers, that's exactly where we're headed. Taxpayers will end up picking up the costs, the charges for what are called, for lack of a better term, the soft services. and taxpayers will be handing a subsidy to developers. That's where this government is headed.

What will be the result of that? We've seen this result in the past because in many ways this is heading backwards.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): We can see the results of the last five years and $8-billion deficits.

The Speaker: The member for Brampton North is out of order.

Mr Hampton: It is heading backwards, back to the situation we had, and the situation we had was municipalities having to raise their municipal taxes to provide the school services or the library services and, in some cases, hard services because of the urban sprawl that was allowed by some of those development and planning policies in the past, and we've had municipalities running to the province saying: "We want a subsidy. You have to help us out. We can't afford this. You need to help us pay for some of this."

Where the government is taking us here is full speed into the past in terms of some of the subsidies taxpayers are going to have to offer up to private developers. But again, this won't start to appear until five or 10 years down the road. The government then will say, "Well, that's somebody else's problem."

The other direction I think the government is headed in here is really to reduce local democracy. If there's going to be a development in a local area, one would think that it is basic, elementary, commonsense democracy that local folks ought to have an opportunity to review the proposed development at a public meeting and to comment on it. One would expect that would be a rule that should apply across the province. If you're going to move in the direction of a new subdivision or there are going to be significant severances, there ought to be a requirement across the province that there be a public meeting and a public right to comment.

Much of that is either being lost or it's being reduced, and I can only say that it really is an attempt to remove that right of local democracy so that it can facilitate --

Mr Murdoch: Putting it into their hands. It is giving it back to the municipalities where you took it all away.

The Speaker: The member for Grey-Owen Sound is out of order.

Mr Hampton: I told you, Speaker, that some of the government members wouldn't like what I had to say; all the more reason why I think it needs to be said.

What this government has against local democracy in the sense that local folks ought to have the chance to have a meeting at the local level and the development proposal ought to be put there for public review, why this government is opposed to that may be difficult to explain, but I would suggest it's simply another chit for developers and removes that difficult aspect of local democracy, participatory democracy. After all, people may want to have a say and people may want to be fully informed, so the government's simply going to get rid of that.


I want to talk a bit about the protection of the natural environment and why it's so important. The existing Planning Act and the rules under it basically say that we should protect significant ravine, valley, river and stream corridors, and we should protect significant portions of the habitat of endangered species and threatened species in terms of lands that are adjacent to this, if development in those places negatively affects the ecological features of those functions.

I will go into why we need to do this because I know none of the government members will. The reason I think we need to protect those kinds of things is -- I think some of the reasons are evident in our history. We can deal, for example, with the situation we face across much of southern Ontario where over the last 30 or 40 years in many locales in southern Ontario the provincial government and local governments have had to pay for and subsidize the building of water-control structures and dams to guard against flooding, on the one hand, and we've had to put in place other measures to guard against erosion in other situations.

Why is that? That has happened because governments in the past did not think enough about protecting stream corridors, protecting significant forested areas, ravine areas from erosion. Too much development; too often development was allowed in those places. As a result, there is no sort of natural protection of the watercourse and when it does rain or when there is spring runoff, there is no containment for it so it all goes down the creek and the river in a hurry, and you get flooding and you get erosion.

If the kinds of measures and the guidelines that are in the Planning Act now had applied 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, we would not have had to build as many expensive water-control structures, dams, and we would not have had the difficult problems we're having across much of southern Ontario in terms of flooding and erosion.

Just looking historically at some of the past events in southern Ontario, there's ample evidence of why we should be taking protection of these features seriously. I will say again that I think as the public watches the progression of this bill and the progression of the things around it, what we're going to see is a backing off from that kind of protection and the backing off from that kind of protection is going to cost us money. It's bad economics, it's bad development and it's bad for the environment.

Mr Murdoch: So what you're saying is the municipalities can't look after themselves. Is that what you're saying?

Mr Hampton: One of the Conservative members wants to get into the issue of municipalities. I will oblige you and we'll talk about municipalities in a while here. We'll talk about that.

There are other reasons, broader, what you might call more global reasons why we ought to think seriously and long and hard about the environmental aspects of this. The reality is that what we do to the environment here is a global issue. We cannot say to people elsewhere in the world, "Don't pollute the ocean" if we are not going to be environmentally responsible with our own lands and water. We cannot say to people who live in South America or Central America, "Don't destroy the rain forest because it's important for the global environment," if we're not prepared to take environmental protection seriously here. We cannot say to people who may live in Southeast Asia, "Don't degrade the environment there," if we're not prepared to take serious actions here.

The reality is that to the extent that we back off, to the extent that we are prepared to create a medium-term and longer-term environmental deficit, to the degree that we are prepared to do that, and this government is prepared to do that, that lessens the arguments that we all need to make as citizens of the earth about the need for overall environmental protection across the earth.

It takes away any moral authority we may have, it takes away any positioning we may have to make those arguments, and yet if you read a book like Preparing for the 21st Century, one of the messages that comes through loud and clear is the absolute need to take those kinds of arguments and those kinds of issues more seriously now than ever before. Otherwise we end up in a situation where we each -- and I'll use the term -- bugger our neighbour and neighbours bugger other neighbours, and we all end up with a worse-off situation in the final analysis.

What I think we're going to see is, as I said, a backing away from the protection of significant woodlots. I believe that, particularly in southern and central Ontario, is going to have some very negative medium-term and longer-term environmental effects. I believe we'll see a backing away from the protection of ravine, valley, river and stream corridors, and that's going to have some longer-term negative effects as well.

I want to deal just for a minute with the issue of urban sprawl, because that bears directly on the environment. I believe that where the government is headed will be a situation where more urban sprawl will be allowed. Urban sprawl means a few other things. It means more cars, more trucks, more motor vehicles. It means more air pollution. It means, particularly in southern and central Ontario, the loss of more farm land, and I think we're going to regret that. Indeed, we're starting to regret it already. But we're going to regret it more and more, because there is only so much significant farm land in southern Ontario, and much of the farm land that we already have in southern Ontario has not been cared for in the way that it should have been over the last 40 or 50 years.

All those things are going to add costs in the longer term. If we're going to allow more urban sprawl and we're going to have more trucks, more vehicles, we're going to need more highways. To the degree that we have more air pollution, we're going to impose other costs on society. Anybody who lives, for example, anywhere near the greater Toronto area knows that there's already a significant air pollution problem here, and that air pollution problem becomes quite serious when you have hot, humid weather any time between April and, say, October. Those kinds of problems are simply going to magnify and become worse if you follow the general direction that this government is headed in with this legislation.


Mr Murdoch: Isn't this awful? We have been listening to this kind of stuff for five years.

The Speaker: The member for Grey-Owen Sound, come to order.

Mr Hampton: The government talks about returning things to municipalities. What this government is going to do is it's going to put municipalities in a really difficult spot. Municipalities have limited financial resources, even though this government is prepared to give them all kinds of new taxing power and then turn around and say to taxpayers, "Well, we didn't increase your taxes." But even with that, municipalities have limited financial resources, limited administrative resources, limited scientific and engineering resources. If you follow where the government is headed, what you're going to see is that this government expects municipalities, particularly smaller, rural municipalities, to be the plug in the dam.

So when a developer, and in many cases the developer will be a large financial interest or will have significant financial clout, descends on the smaller, urban or suburban municipality and says, "I want to do all this," you're really setting up a David and Goliath type of situation: the developer having money, having connections, having the ability to get its own planners, having the ability to set up its own scenario, and municipalities simply not being able to operate on that scale. There, again, is where the government I think is headed on this and is setting up a very unequal situation and is going to put municipalities in a difficult spot.

The government thinks that by taking the policies to "be consistent with" and changing them to "have regard to," it's going to do a favour for municipalities. I don't think they're going to do a favour to municipalities at all, and in fact I don't think they're going to do a favour here for developers at all, because what they're going to do is they're going to introduce more uncertainty into the process, and what's needed here is more certainty and more definitive language.

By again moving back into the past, which is in many ways what this bill is all about, you're going back into those very uncertain situations. You're inviting the kind of situation where you have party after party lining up at municipal councils arguing for their definition of what the language will now mean and you're inviting more litigation at the Ontario Municipal Board. I'll say it right here: This is where we're headed.

This is not going to be a favour for municipalities. It's going to put municipalities in a very tough spot and it's going to create, as I say, more uncertainty, more litigation, more lobbying at that municipal level than, frankly, municipalities have the capacity in many cases to deal with and in many cases don't want to deal with.

Mr Spina: You're underestimating them, I can tell you. They're not a bunch of idiots, you know.

The Speaker: The member for Brampton North, come to order.

Mr Hampton: The member for Brampton North says municipal politicians aren't a bunch of idiots. No one argues that, no one alludes to it except the member for Brampton North. The fact of the matter is that municipalities, and he may not choose to recognize this, simply don't have the legal tools that the province has, the financial apparatus the province has, the access to expertise that the province has, and yet this government is now going to say: "It's off our plate; it's now on to yours, municipalities. You handle the problem." What an unequal situation to put municipalities in.

I want to say now just a bit about what some other folks are saying out there. An interesting article in the Ottawa Citizen not long ago by Meg Sears --

Mr Spina: You quote everybody but your own riding.

Mr Hampton: Again, I listen to some of the Conservative members, and they want to talk as if the issues of land use planning and environmental protection somehow have no place in the province. Again, I think that belies where the Conservatives are coming from. They aren't thinking about this in terms of a global responsibility, in terms of a national responsibility, in terms of a provincial responsibility. If it's a tough and difficult issue, foist it off on the municipalities, even though they may not have the tools to deal with some of the issues.

I want to refer to this article by Meg Sears, who is someone who takes a very keen interest in land use planning. This is what she says:

"Careful land use planning is imperative, though difficult. Cities are sprawling, highways are choking, farm land is disappearing and inner cities becoming less livable. The landscape more and more is being turned over to human uses. Air and water quality are deteriorating and biodiversity suffering as the natural buffers in the complex system we call the environment are removed. Ontario has been applauded internationally for its courageous steps towards responsible planning."

But then she says:

"We are about to regress. In the 1980s it became clear that major changes had to be made at the planning system. It was slow, it didn't work and the rules were not clear. Although the landscape obviously cannot be separated from the environment, an artificial distinction in the system led to repeated calls for environmental assessment of development proposals, and the Ontario Municipal Board hearings dragged on with environmental arguments."

That was the world that was. It was very clear that there needed to be some clear policies and some clear language and that those clear policies and clear language needed to give some certainty to municipalities so those municipalities could then move through a planning regime without having everything appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, without having every development tied up in meeting after meeting, lobbying after lobbying. That was the move that was made during the 1980s and 1990s.

What Meg Sears says is that, very clearly, this government is headed back into the past; that we are headed back into the past, where we will have the old system of inconsistent policies, inconsistent guidelines and practices. It means that in this uncertain climate enormous amounts of money will be wasted by gambling developers and citizens fighting battles to protect neighbourhoods and significant natural resources. She says we're very clearly headed back into the past.

She says, "Who is this being done for?" Interestingly enough, she says the people who opposed moving ahead into a 1990s and into, really, a 21st-century planning regime overwhelmingly were land developers, because, again, the interest there too often is that they want to make a profit today, let municipalities and taxpayers pick up some of the externalities, and as for the environment, "We'll worry about that down the road." That's the one interest group that wants land use planning moved back into the past; the other, frankly, is, some rural municipalities want it. That's true. Some rural municipalities want that.

I want to just go on and refer to some of the other comments she makes. She says, "One reason given for taking these giant steps backwards is so decisions will be made locally." But she says they're already being made locally. But what the government has in mind is going to infringe on everyone's quality of life. She says, "The provincial government and we the taxpayers cannot afford to bail out poorly planned communities with polluted water or insufficient roads and other infrastructure." She says, "Those poised to dismantle planning reform maintain that those at arm's length to the planning process, citizens who merely live in the communities and pay taxes to fix up messes, should not be involved." That's really the removal of democracy here.

Many more citizens and members of non-governmental organizations interested in community issues such as highways through neighbourhoods, shopping malls, schools, water quality, agricultural land and natural spaces are very important players in the planning process, but again, they're going to have their opportunities to have a say in land use planning taken away by this bill.

So we will have an opportunity, as we go forward from here and as this goes out to committee, to look at some of the details and to look at this bill piece by piece. But I think it's very important that we acknowledge right here where the government is headed. It is prepared to sacrifice the natural environment in order to, it hopes, get some quick money on the development front. It is prepared to downgrade democracy at the local level in order to allow developers a greater movement forward, and a movement forward without having to involve all those folks who are interested in: Where's the shopping mall going to be located? Where's the school going to be located? Where's the library going to be located? And how is all of this going to be paid for?

I think the government is going to hear from a lot of folks on this bill as it goes out to committee, because the government is going to find that indeed land use planning is more complex and there are more people interested in land use planning in this province than just developers and just some municipal leaders.

I'll leave it there for now. We look forward to the public review of this bill as it goes out to committee.

The Speaker: I could ask for any comments or questions. I don't know whether you want to pass this second reading tonight or not, but anyhow we'll have the member for Cochrane South.

Mr Bisson: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Your comment that we are allowed comments is interesting, and I will do so.

Very quickly, I just want to agree with my colleague from northern Ontario in regard to what it means, because I would repeat again, and I think the member made the point, that part of the problem that we're going to have with this bill, quite frankly, is that we're going to have a backlog in the longer term with people going off to the OMB for the reasons that were pointed out in his speech. If you allow local municipalities to be able to interpret the provincial policies any way they see fit, you will have developers going to one community and saying: "It's funny. Sudbury told me that I can do it this way. You're telling me that I can't. I want to bring to the OMB an objection that is based on your not treating me the same as I would be treated in another municipality." So I think the member is 100% right.

I would say on the other issue that he raised, in regard to the environmental cost, to have a planning process that is heavily weighted on the side of the developer in the end is not good for the environment and not good for good planning.

The Speaker: It being 12 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 am tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 2401.