South Shore Joint Initiative Responds
to Bill 23: More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022

Founded in 2018, Canadian registered charity South Shore Joint Initiative (SSJI) proactively worked with the Municipality of Prince Edward County (PEC) to:

  • Advocate for protection, preservation and restoration of public lands and waters in the South Shore Key Biodiversity Area so that together, biodiversity and people will continue to thrive
  • Ensure environmental protection for areas designated in the Official Plan as Natural Heritage Core Areas and Linkages throughout the County
  • Demonstrate the critical importance of wetlands to fragile biodiversity during the recent PEC Official Plan consultations and secure a 50-meter protective buffer from development around wetlands
  • Ensure that the current PEC Official Plan includes language ensuring that Quinte Conservation is consulted on development proposals

As written, Bill 23 will significantly reduce the ability of community groups and individuals to participate in planning decisions and place unprecedented limits on their democratic right to proactively comment on matters that directly affect them such as development in important natural areas, shorelines and watersheds.

Even though surrounded by water, Prince Edward County is one of the most drought prevalent Counties in Ontario. Removing pre-existing wetland protections as proposed in Bill 23, including evaluation points for Species at Risk in the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System will allow for potential destruction of our rare, fragile and biodiverse wetlands. Wetlands and streams are essential for landscape health and for the recharge of ground water vital for agriculture. Our provincially significant and coastal wetlands play and important role in protecting our shorelines from flooding during extreme weather events like the ones that caused so much damage in 2017 and 2019. Offsetting has not been shown as an effective way to ameliorate the permanent damage done by wetland destruction.

Maintenance and restoration of biodiversity combats climate change.1 Natural areas allow biodiversity to thrive and are important to fighting climate change. Over the last century we have learned how important it is to “Give Nature Half”.2 This approach allows for careful consideration of every development proposal. As a small municipality Prince Edward County relies on Quinte Conservation for assistance with planning applications ensuring that negative effects of development on our watershed are recognized and considered to avoid unintended consequences. Bill 23, as written, will remove the opportunity for these critical checks and balances to be considered.

As well, proposed changes for the Ontario Heritage Act in Bill 23 will severely limit protection of identified heritage properties. A PEC heritage property, Moses Hudgin Log House (owned by Nature Conservancy of Canada and maintained by South Shore Joint Initiative) in the Hudgin-Rose Nature Reserve is currently undergoing restoration and will become a hub for history and nature. In a November 10, 2022 media release, the Architectural Conservancy Ontario notes the potential impact as two-fold:

  • “Forcing communities to drop “listed” properties from their heritage registers if they are not designated in two years and requiring that the standard for designation of properties be hiked from at least one of Ontario’s heritage criteria to two.”
  • And “Requiring a property meet two of the legislated criteria for designation, instead of one, will make it challenging to protect the often-humble buildings”3

Protecting, preserving and restoring cultural heritage is a cornerstone of our work in the South Shore. Much of our cultural heritage – especially that of Indigenous communities – in the South Shore remains to be discovered. Bill 23 represents a step backward in preserving cultural heritage in the County and the province.

South Shore Joint Initiative urges the committee to reconsider the approach to development and heritage properties proposed in Bill 23. We urge you to search for alternate solutions to the challenges confronting us. Removing the democratic right for citizens to comment, removing the important and essential tasks of Conservation Authorities, allowing the destruction of wetlands and the delisting of Provincially Significant Wetlands send us backwards to a time when we did not understand the consequences of unbridled development. Stepping back protections for our cultural heritage limits what we will leave for future generations. The world now knows how important it is to maintain and restore our natural areas for the health of our planet and for the health of all of us. Bill 23 is not a representation of good government.




3 Architectural Conservancy Ontario, e-news “ACO Responds to Bill 23, Home Homes Built Faster Act, November 10, 2022”