In my prior post titled “Bill 23.- The More Homes Built Faster Act, 2002 Part 1” I summarized a number of changes pertaining to the construction of new homes that has been put forth by the Government of Ontario.

This new Act (click here for details) is aimed at addressing the alleged shortage of housing that exists in the province by removing much of the planning, approvals and other steps that currently fall under the jurisdiction of municipalities, and shifting said responsibilities to the province.  On the surface that may sound fine but along with these changes comes the removal of any opportunities for public consultation or appeal of proposed new developments.  More importantly, Conservation Authorities are stripped of their ability to govern and restrict development of wetlands and virtually any environmentally sensitive areas that currently are or should be protected.

Reviewing what is contained in the new Act, prompted me to write my prior post and I have to agree with many that it’s one of the most ill conceived initiatives I have seen put forth by any level of government.  See Part 1 of my blog and you will see why.  By no means am I “anti-development” but at the end of the day there is good development and bad development.  The only way to arrive with a final product that addresses the needs of a growing province and its communities, is pleasing to the eye and most importantly protects the environment is via sound planning. Along with thoughtful planning there must be the necessary controls in place to achieve the desired results.

When it comes to planning and growth, the southern Georgian Bay area is no different than anywhere else.  Over the years we have seen a tremendous amount of growth, some good with some bad.  The good has resulted in both housing and commercial development that has met the growing needs of the region.  The bad has been growth that has created a growing level of traffic along with some architectural designs which has created a final product that detracts from the natural attributes which drew people here in the first place.  Residential housing in Collingwood, the Blue Mountains, Wasaga Beach and elsewhere need not, nor should it look like Mississauga, Scarborough or the Greater Toronto Area.  When I was relocated to Collingwood in 1985 with my employer Goodyear Canada, we wanted to buy a home and have a lifestyle that was different from what we had experienced in the city.  Based on the conversations that I have with my real estate clients, many of today’s buyers want the same.

It was for these very reasons that I ran for Collingwood Council in 2014.  The crux of my campaign was based on my belief as follows: “You can’t stop growth but if you fail to manage that growth in such as manner as to preserve the very reason what people come here in the first place, there will simply go somewhere else.”   

Around the time of that election, I had a conversation with one of my real estate clients that owns several properties in the area.  The point he made was this: “The southern Georgian Bay regions does not have a monopoly on being a nice place to live.  There are lots of nice places to live.”  His words resonated with me and have remained forever etched in my mind.

When it comes to development and building, there is in the opinion of many, too much bureaucracy.  Whether it’s for a large residential development, a single family home or even just an addition to an existing dwelling, it can be a slow and costly process with many levels having their hands out charging fees for a variety of reasons.  As a real estate Broker I had often found and or seen that homeowners and buyers feel they can bypass the process of getting a building or other permit for a specific job.  The attitude appears to be, “this is a small town, it’s not like the city no one is watching we can do what we want without having to go through approvals.”  Wrong!

Part of my job when working with my real estate clients is helping them to understand and guide them through the process.  Sometimes it means making a “conditional” offer on a home or other property with the condition being to determine whether or not they can get a permit(s) to add-on or renovate as they plan.  Often this not only involves dealing with one of the local municipalities but perhaps one of the area’s Conservation Authorities such as the Niagara Escarpment Commission, Grey Sauble Conservation or the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority.  Waterfront properties are another matter bringing into play the province’s Ministry of Natural Resources and perhaps the federal government’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

When I speak to these issues I do so as a real estate professional, as a homeowner and in addition, I also own two waterfront properties.  Over the past two years I have completed two projects to my home in Thornbury.  The first was a detached two car garage/workshop to compliment the existing garage attached to the house.  The second was an addition to the house itself wherein we added a year round sunroom with fireplace and deck.

In order to construct both projects I needed the following:


  • Grey Sauble Conservation Authority Approval:        $620
  • Blue Mountains Building Permit:                              $175
  • Blue Mountains Entrance Permit:                            $150 plus a $4,000 refundable deposit if I should damage any town property.


  • Blue Mountains Building Permit:                             $175
  • Blue Mountains Entrance Permit:                           $150 plus a $2,500 refundable deposit if I should damage any town property.
  • 3 Electrical Safety Authority Permits:                      $420

NOTE: The sunroom did not require a permit from the Conservation Authority as the location on our property was outside their jurisdiction. Even though I was not creating a “new” entrance, the Town of Blue Mountains required entrance permits due to the fact that I was bringing in heavy equipment for which I might damage town property.  It is worth noting that we are on well and septic, there are no sidewalks, curbs or fire hydrants so there is not much in the way of municipal property that I could damage.  Both deposits were refunded after the work was done and the municipality was satisfied that no damage had been done..

Throughout these projects, I have to say that both Grey Sauble Conservation Authority and the Blue Mountain’s Building Department were very supportive and pleasant to work with. The Electrical Safety Authority was as well although I have to say that I thought three separate electrical permits was overkill.  The sunroom shown above has a heated floor the installation of which required a permit.  The final hook-up of the heated floor system required a permit and lastly, the electrical work I did for receptacles, lights in the vaulted ceiling and a ceiling fan required yet another electrical permit.  Also worth noting is that all of these various permits required that inspections be done as the work progressed and often an inspector will find something they want you to remedy.  Thankfully I have good knowledge of Ontario’s Building Code which made life easier.

If the province wants to speed up the process of building new homes, “Bill 23.- The More Homes Built Faster Act, 2002 is not the answer, as neither Municipalities nor Conservation Authorities should not be stripped of the approval process.  To start with, Municipalities and other governing bodies can review and perhaps streamline the approval process for development projects or for ones similar to what I have done as a homeowner.  If Conservation Authority (CA) is needed, a Municipality will not even look at your building permit application until a permit has been issued by the CA.  Three electrical permits with the Electrical Safety Authority seems excessive, I can understand perhaps two.

In conclusion I highly recommend that for many work you plan on doing around your home check with your local building department.  Any garden shed over about 100 square feet requires a permit.  A new deck, finishing a basement, a new addition, major renovations and a variety of other projects all require building permits.  Do not try to cheat the system, you are sure to get caught.  Before starting the construction of the above sunroom I had an old deck to remove for which a permit is not required.  Part way through the process I had a knock at my door and it was one of the Blue Mountains By-Law Officers who I know.  Driving by they noticed my work to remove the deck and interpreted it as building a new deck for which they wanted to see my permit.  Upon showing them what I was doing and knowing that a new permit had been applied for was in the process they were fine but it goes to show you that they are forever looking for those that try to avoid playing by the rules.

As always if you have any questions about a project you are contemplating, Contact Me and I will be happy to render an opinion and give you some advice as to how to proceed so as to stay out of trouble.

As for “Bill 23.- The More Homes Built Faster Act, 2002, I think the provincial Conservations and Doug Ford’s government have stirred up a hornet’s nest for which there is going to be a great deal of backlash.  Personally, myself and a number of others feel Bill 23 needs to be stopped at all costs and it will be interesting to see how Municipalities and other governing bodies respond to this ill conceived legislation.