Different perspectives on Bill 66 environmental impact
AWARE News Network
From the Ontario government
“I do not see Burlington using this legislation, if passed” – Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward
“I am not prepared to waive environmental concerns in favor of expedited approvals” – Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger
“It goes way, way, way too far” – Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman
Ontario’s proposed “Open for Business” legislation repudiates Premier Doug Ford’s promise not to touch the Greenbelt, threatens drinking water, undermines evidence-based city planning, and removes protection from toxics chemicals for Ontario residents. It takes us back 40 years and means the provincial government will become deeply involved in many individual development decisions…
Canadian Environmental Law Association
CELA’s core mandate is to use and improve the law in order to safeguard the environment, protect the interests of low-income and vulnerable communities, and ensure access to environmental justice.
In Ontario, however, it now appears that our main challenge is not to incrementally strengthen provincial laws, but to fend off ill-advised governmental attempts to repeal key environmental statutes and eliminate environmental regulations as “red tape…”
Earlier this year Caroline Mulroney promised the voters of York-Simcoe that she would protect and preserve the North Gwillimbury Forest and the Greenbelt in its entirety. According to Ms. Mulroney, as “your PC candidate, and hopefully MPP, you will always have my commitment on this.”
But contrary to this promise, last week the Government of Ontario introduced Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act which, if passed into law, will permit municipalities to pass special zoning bylaws allowing office buildings, factories, stores and houses to be built anywhere in the North Gwillimbury Forest and within the Greenbelt Protected Countryside. Unbelievably, these special bylaws could be passed without public notice, without a public meeting, and without any opportunity for appeal.
Ontario does not need to sacrifice the North Gwillimbury Forest and the Greenbelt to create jobs and grow our economy. Nor does it need to sacrifice the Oak Ridges Moraine and Lake Simcoe, also in Ms. Mulroney’s riding and whose protection plans can also be overridden by these special bylaws. There is plenty of land in the Greater Toronto Area that is already zoned for new factories, offices, stores and homes.
If Bill 66 is passed, industry will be able to bypass drinking water source protections under the Clean Water Act. This change would weaken critical protections passed in response to the Walkerton tragedy, in which contaminated drinking water killed seven people and made thousands of people ill.
Walkerton resident Bruce Davidson
…”Our most precious resource, our water – we have the information we need, we’ve spent millions of dollars to develop these programs. Walkerton is now a over $200 million tragedy, the savings in cutting red tape before the tragedy was $40 million.This makes no sense on any level whatsoever.”
From CBC Radio’s Ontario morning podcast ( 7:56 to 15:29)
Bill 66 defines the open-for-business planning by-law as beyond the application of the following:
Section 39 of the Clean Water Act, 2006.
Section 20 of the Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015.
Section 7 of the Greenbelt Act, 2005.
Section 6 of the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2008.
Section 7 of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001.Bypassing Section 39 of the Clean Water Act means that any new residential development would not have to conform to source water protections.
The other exemptions in the bill, noted above, would allow for any protections of water bodies afforded therein to be ignored.
Furthermore, Bill 66 seeks to repeal and revoke the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009, as of December 31st, 2021.
“It would undermine everything we have learned – sometimes under tragic circumstances – about how to protect our environment and health of people and communities across Ontario. We do not want another disaster like Walkerton… This is not about unnecessary red tape or creating jobs – it is about generating short-term profits for the few at the long-term cost of the many. Additionally, despite the false narrative about jobs, Ontario’s economy is strong – the unemployment rate is at its lowest level in 18 years, and the construction industry is also doing well.”