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Premier calls out Newmarket mayor for not supporting housing bill

'I’m not trying to be difficult,' says John Taylor, who is hoping to meet with Doug Ford to explain that Newmarket only has the sewage capacity to build 2,000 more homes, not 12,000
Doug Ford ONR announcment
File photo

Newmarket’s housing woes could be on the table at a meeting between Mayor John Taylor and Premier Doug Ford after the premier publicly called him out as the "one outlier" not supporting his housing bill.

Ford publicly named Taylor at a news conference March 23, criticizing Newmarket for not getting on board in pledging to meet the provincial housing targets outlined in Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster. He added that he had called the mayor, and Taylor told NewmarketToday they are now planning to meet to discuss the issue.

“(I) thank all the municipalities for passing our housing plan,” Ford said. “There’s one outlier — and I’m going to call him out — the mayor of Newmarket, Mayor Taylor … It’s called team Ontario, team effort, where are we putting 450,000 people. We need to build homes. We need to build them quick.” 

Ford said with immigration increasing in Ontario, more housing is vital. 

The province provided housing targets for 29 GTA municipalities to help meet its overall goal of 1.5 million homes built by 2031. While most have signed on, Newmarket indicated it could not meet the proposed target of 12,000 new homes due to lack of sewage capacity.

Taylor said he was not upset about being called out.

“I don’t mind. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and that’s fine, I can explain my position,” he said. “Partisan-wise, I try to stay agnostic. There’s no politics here from me. I want to work with the province.” 

Taylor said it is not a matter of political will, but capacity. The province decided last fall not to go forward with York Region’s Upper York Sewage Solution, which the province had delayed making a decision about for several years. Instead, the province wants to expand an existing plant in Durham, but York Region staff have said that will take years.

A Newmarket staff report last December indicated the town has five years of sewage capacity left.

“Newmarket’s in a bit of a unique position,” Taylor said. “Newmarket has the capacity, until something is done, to build 2,000 more homes, and then the pipes are full. This is not conjecture. This is not politics. This is engineering and science. I’m not trying to be difficult.” 

The Upper York Sewage Solution was protested by area environmental groups and the Chippewas of Georgina Island, who were concerned by the potential impact of sewage going into Lake Simcoe. The region remained steadfast on the project after spending millions, saying the state-of-the-art plant would address contamination. Successive provincial governments did not approve the project’s environmental assessment, leaving it in limbo for years

Clarity should be coming soon on the proposed solution in Durham, Taylor said. He intends to go over the situation with the premier.

“It’s a challenging circumstance we find ourselves in. It’s frustrating because it wasn’t a challenge of our creation,” he said. “We’ll work through it … We all know we need more housing.”