The Chair: I would like to call this meeting of the standing committee on regulations and private bills to order, it being 10 of the clock. We have before us an agenda which includes Bills Pr62, An Act respecting the City of North York and Pr68, An Act respecting the Armenian Community Centre of Cambridge. We also have to deal with the issue of waiving of fees and our budget for the next year.
First on the agenda is Bill Pr62, An Act respecting the City of North York, sponsored by Mr Mammoliti. Is Mr Mammoliti present? Would you like to come forth, Mr Mammoliti, and introduce the applicants on this bill?
I am going to hand over to George in a minute, but I would like to say that in the city of North York we certainly have had a number of problems in reference to debris from construction that goes on in particular areas and the debris that is left over, either during the construction period or after, and how it blows around and carries and goes to the different homes or different buildings or roads. It looks terrible sometimes, and we have had a number of complaints through my office and through other offices. I know that Anthony Perruzza, my colleague, has certainly received a number of complaints in the past, both in his job as MPP and when he was the councillor in that particular area.
When I was asked to sponsor this particular bill, I jumped at the opportunity, because I feel strongly about giving the city of North York the opportunity to deal with this, and to deal with it through bylaws. That is what this bill is all about, dealing with this particular problem and allowing the city of North York to do that.
Mr Dixon: I think the bill largely speaks for itself. There are two principal thrusts. The first is to give the city of North York authority that it does not presently have to require the owner of a construction site to fence that site while a construction project is taking place. The reason for that request does relate to this issue of debris, and trying to contain construction clutter within its own site.
As you probably know, the city of North York is largely developed, and there has been a phenomenon in recent years of so-called in-fill housing. In the more extreme cases, I guess, it has been referred to as monster housing. That is quite disruptive in established areas, and this authority to fence would give the city an opportunity to require modest fencing around construction sites to contain debris.
The second main thrust, also dealt with in the explanatory note, is also a power the city does not now have, which is to require the owner of the property on which the project is taking place to clean up any debris that emanates from his site on to either neighbouring private properties or public property or public roads.
The ministry has recommended that no objections be made to the bill, that Toronto certainly has moved in this direction and it seems there are gaps in various pieces of legislation that would make this quite a helpful piece, so our ministry finds no objection.
Mr Sutherland: It seems to me that we had a bill either exactly like this or very similar come past this committee within the last six or seven months. I do not think it was exactly the same, but it covered similar areas, and I am just wondering whether it was the city of North York that came forward with it or whether it was someone else, and since it was similar, should any of that have been incorporated in this one to save the time of coming through twice?
Ms Gray: Yes, it was the city of Toronto. In the spring of this year the bill was slightly different in that the city of Toronto's request was simply related to the cleanup of debris and did not involve the fencing aspect that North York has now asked for. So this is something a little bit further.
Mr Hansen: Is the deposit going to be a proportional amount to the cost of construction? When I take a look at this, if it is a $100 deposit and the cost of removal is $500, the cost will still be borne by the corporation. Could you explain a little about that?
Mr Dixon: The city's intention, I think, would be to base the deposit on a frontage rate, basically on the lot size. I think typically that would roughly relate to the value of the construction. Obviously a large site would accommodate a larger, more expensive building.
Mr Hansen: Maybe it is a little more in-depth than the bill is here. The other thing is that I have seen in my particular area, in subdivisions, it is great that you clean up your own site, but what happens if it is put on another site that is owned by another corporation next door? These are some areas to think about when you go back to your council, some areas you should address that are not in this bill, to the effect: "Where did the refuse go from the building sites? Did it go to a dump or did it go to adjacent lands in the municipality?"
Mr Dixon: The Municipal Act does not permit us to pass a bylaw to do these things. That is why we are here. We are seeking authority from the province in the form of this bill to enable us to pass bylaws to accomplish these results.
If I could also direct you to the compendium accompanying the bill, I will go through that with you. The bill is necessary to give effect to minutes of settlement to finalize a legal dispute between the Armenian Community Centre of Cambridge and the corporation of the city of Cambridge, which minutes have been approved by both parties and pursuant to which the corporation of the city of Cambridge has agreed that it does not object to the lands and premises owned by the Armenian community centre being exempted from municipal taxation.
There were some constraints initially placed on the Armenian community centre which, in retrospect, were viewed to be too tight in terms of other developments in the same area. There was a fairly lengthy dialogue between the city and the Armenian centre. With mutual respect, this agreement was reached and it is one that draws closure to that phase.
The Armenian Community Centre of Cambridge is an incorporated charitable institution which makes its buildings and land available, exclusively for charitable purposes, to the public and the city of Cambridge for use to assist the people of the city. The exemption for taxation which this bill would authorize will put the Armenian Community Centre of Cambridge in the same category as some other similar organizations operating in Cambridge and throughout the province.
In addition, a portion of the building will be available for religious use for those persons who wish to utilize it in this way. This of course is a recognition of a concession that was given to other community groups that entered the international village concept some time after the community centre. With new rules for the other groups coming in, this brings the Armenian community centre, which had been there previously and had negotiated a different set of rules, back into line with the other groups. Exemptions from taxation would also be consistent with this aspect of the use of the land and buildings.
Mr Ruprecht: Mr Farnan is in support of this and he argues this case well. Let me say something about this bill that should concern all of us. I wholeheartedly support the Armenian Community Centre of Cambridge. In fact, being the former minister of multiculturalism for the province, I have some idea that organizations and community centres of this type, which not only serve the local Armenian group but open their doors to others in the community, ought to be tax exempt.
Having said that, though, I think it is incumbent upon us in this committee to make a recommendation to the government. While I said earlier that I will support this, obviously what we need here is some guidance, in terms of new legislation which is clear and specific, as to what kinds of organizations, groups and community centres we would umbrellaize. Do we now open up our doors and say community centres of type A, B and C could all be exempt?
The reason I say this is because I have been sitting here for a number of years and I know there are at least five such centres in the city of Toronto alone which have claimed and received status of this kind. Every time a new community centre comes to this committee and to the Legislature for approval, we find ourselves with the same arguments; namely, what specifically should be designed or produced in terms of law that could allow other centres not to pay municipal taxes.
While I support this bill, I say to the committee that we should, either later or now, make a recommendation to this government that would then give us specific details as to what kinds of centres could claim a tax reduction or deduction or exemption that would cover every such centre.
Mr Hansen: I have to agree with my friend opposite on that particular area too, because of the point that the Armenian community has had to come here to spend time and money to apply for something that should justly be theirs. In St Catharines the Armenian community put in a new hall which was opened just last year. They have the status of not paying tax in St Catharines, so I endorse this particular bill as it is here.
The Chair: I think your suggestions are probably well founded. Perhaps we could set that for discussion at some later time, perhaps at our next meeting, and certainly secure advice in the meantime as to the mechanism that could be used.
Mr Drainville: Very simply, we have no objections at this time. We thought there might have been other interests involved here. Communications have been made with the region and with the school board indicating that this was happening. Everything seems clear, there are no objections and therefore there are no objections on the part of the government.
The Chair: We have before us a couple of other items. First is a request with regard to Bill Pr9, An Act to revive the Restoule Snowmobile Club. The fees with regard to this charter application were not waived. The understanding is that had an application been made for those fees to be waived, that would have occurred. Do we have any discussion on this or any motions on this request for a waiving of those fees?
Mr Ruprecht: This is just a local snowmobile club, right? Do I understand this correctly? This has no implications for a broader issue of including other snowmobile clubs, an indication of what we could be in for in the future? This is strictly local, is it? There are no other implications here?
Clerk of the Committee: I just want to raise an issue with the committee. At our last meeting there was a request from the city of Toronto for withdrawal of one of its bills. At the time I indicated it was a bill to do with leghold traps. That was not correct. I spoke to Mr Ruprecht to raise the issue. In fact, it was a bill having to do with immunization and sterilization of pets. The leghold trap bill is currently still active and likely will be coming before the committee at some future point.