Protest held outside London City Hall against Bill 23

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According to the latest National Rent Report by Urbanation and Rentals.ca, rent prices in London, Ont. rose in October 36.5 per cent for a one bedroom apartment, and 31 per cent for a two bedroom from the same month a year ago.

The data shows despite a slowing of housing costs, rent prices continue to rise across the country by 11.8 per cent on average.

London Acorn held a protest outside city hall Friday against the Ontario government’s controversial Bill 23.

“I think it’s clear that this bill was threatening so many people,” Claire Wittnebel from London Acorn said at the event, which also saw MPP Peggy Sattler, and five newly elected members of London City Council attend.

“There’s a lot coming from municipalities in terms of how this is going to impede our ability to collect development charges, someone’s going to have to pay,” said Ward 6 Coun. Sam Trosow.

Meanwhile, Ward 11 representative Skylar Franke remarked at how several different causes are joining together against the legislation, and said, “It’s bringing common allies together because this bill really only benefits private development. It’s not good for the taxpayer. It’s not good for farmers. It’s not good for the environment. So we’re trying to band together to address it.”

A protest was held by Acorn London outside city hall in London, Ont. on Nov. 18, 2022 against skyrocketing rental prices and Bill 23. (Marek Sutherland/CTV News London)

Wittnebel said the rise in housing costs are leading to a social crisis that will spiral out of control if unchecked.

“Rent prices have increased by 33 per cent in the last year and the danger of it is the worsening of the homeless crisis. But London is already facing along with people not being able to afford food. Children going hungry, just general loss of quality of life across the city,” she said.

The bill also includes provisions to limit the rights of people to object to developments and have appeals, according to Trosow.

“There’s so much in this bill that is not about creating housing,” said Trosow. “And it’s not about creating the kinds of housing that we need, and it’s going to be a windfall for the developer.”

For the councillors who officially began their term on Nov. 15, they are playing catch up from an official capacity. However, Franke said there has been work going on behind the scenes to try and change the government’s mind on some of the bill.

“Our city staff are trying to assess how much it’ll cost for taxpayers if this bill moves forward. Because if no one’s paying for development charges, taxpayers are going to pay for them. So they’re hoping to provide that feedback to Queen’s Park and try to make some amendments to this,” said Franke.

Bill 23 is currently in the second reading stage of the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy. 

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