A group of around 50 people gathered at the Kingston East Community Centre on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, to form an “unwelcoming committee” for MPP Steve Clark.
MPP Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, was expected to arrive at the Community Centre ahead of the official opening of the Waaban Crossing, the much-anticipated “third crossing” connecting the east end of the city to the rest of Kingston. According to those on site with the City of Kingston, Clark cancelled his appearance and did not attend at all.
The “unwelcoming committee” was on hand to voice “demands” of Clark: that he return to Toronto and Queen’s Park and repeal the highly-controversial Bill 23. A week earlier, Kingston City Council voted in favour of a motion to voice opposition to the Bill, citing environmental concerns, as well as the removal of many Development Charges previously afforded to municipal governments. The report received the same night by Council the, outlining the impacts of Bill 23, noted the City of Kingston stands to lose approximately $10 million in combined lost revenues.
“Bill 23 is bad for climate, bad for nature, bad for housing, bad for Kingston, and bad for Ontario,” said Jeremy Milloy, Lead of Integrity of Creation and Climate Change with the local Providence Centre for Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation.
“If Minister Clark wants to support bills that attack our community and its ecosystem, he is not welcome in Kingston.”
Milloy detailed that Clark has “defended Bill 23, the timing of which has sparked investigations into possible corruption, saying ‘these bold actions are necessary if our government is to keep its commitment to Ontarians and remove the obstacles standing in the way of much-needed housing.’”
“These obstacles include over 30 eastern Ontario municipalities that have opposed Bill 23’s attack on Conservation Authorities and, indeed, municipal governments themselves,” Milloy continued.
“A key concern is that the Bill will increase flooding risks, damage vital wetlands and damage the environment. The Ford government is, quite literally, attacking life itself.”
Those in Kingston have joined the hundreds, if not thousands, of people across Ontario to voice opposition to Bill 23, the “More Homes Built Faster Act,” and organized a rally well before City Council passed their Motion in the same vein; on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, dozens of Kingstonians gathered in Confederation Park to protest the Bill, which was then passed the following day.
According to the City of Kingston, despite Development Charges making up a large proportion of funding for the third crossing — approximately $10 million of which remains to be collected — Bill 23 will not impact the City’s ability to collect those monies.