• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

News clips: government backs off land-use portion of Bill 66

In Adjala-Tosorontio
Jan 23rd, 2019
Environmental Defence photo

Thanks to municipal politicians who showed leadership, to MPPs who listened – and to the people

News release from the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition

Steve Clarke, Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced this afternoon that the government will not be pursuing Schedule 10 of Bill 66.

The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition and allies across the region and province have strongly opposed Schedule 10, which would have allowed for fast tracking certain development related to employment by overriding long-standing environmental protections, such as those contained in the Clean Water Act, the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, and the Greenbelt Act.

We are pleased that the government listened to concerns expressed by countless citizens, as well as community and environmental organizations, farmers federations, municipalities, labour representatives, and planning associations, among others. We saw a groundswell of support for protecting Ontario’s water, farmland, communities, and environment.

The message to the government is clear: our water and environment is a shared heritage and should not be sacrificed to benefit a few; water is core to our identity as Ontarians; good planning must include the public and be accountable to the public; and people care about their communities and want to see them to succeed in a way that ensures they continue to be healthy and vibrant into the future.

These are principles that we believe all levels of government can work from. The economy of the future is one that values a healthy environment–simple as that.

We want to thank all of the municipal politicians that showed leadership on this issue. We’d also like to thank Andrea Khanjin, Caroline Mulroney, and Jill Dunlop for meeting with us and listening to our concerns. Most especially, we want to thank the countless supporters who stood up when it counted and lifted their voice with ours.

We look forward to continuing to build a better Simcoe and a better Ontario.

Ontario reverses course on bill that could open Greenbelt to development

By Shawn Jeffords / The Canadian Press

Ontario will not move forward with a controversial element of proposed legislation that could have opened up the province’s protected Greenbelt to development.

Municipal affairs minister Steve Clark says the government will abandon plans to create a specialized planning tool for municipalities that would have allowed them under some circumstances to override certain laws, including those that safeguard the Greenbelt.

In a message posted on social media Wednesday, Clark says the government has heard from legislators, municipalities and stakeholders who were concerned about the impact the bill could have on the protected lands.

The Progressive Conservative government announced the planning tool as part of Bill 66 in December, saying it hoped the measure would expedite economic development.

Critics have said Bill 66 contains vague language that puts established protections at risk.

The Greenbelt — 7,200-square-kilometre area that borders the Greater Golden Horseshoe area — was established in 2005 to protect environmentally sensitive land from urban development.

Under the portion of the proposed law the government will scrap, municipalities working on a specific project – like attracting a major employer to the region – would have been able to pass a by-law to request provincial approval to override certain regulations.

Municipalities would have had to provide a case to the government to warrant the override.

The government had said that part of the legislation — referred to as Schedule 10 — would only apply to municipal development of industrial land.

“The use of this tool would never be approved at the expense of the Greenbelt or other provincial interests like water quality or public health and safety,” Clark said in a tweet.

“However, our Government for the People has listened to the concerns raised by MPPs, municipalities and stakeholders with regards to Schedule 10 of Bill 66 and when the legislature returns in February, we will not proceed with Schedule 10 of the Bill.”

NDP climate change critic Peter Tabuns said the Ford government’s plan would have allowed the Greenbelt to be “swiss-cheesed” by developers.

“By working together, concerned people and groups — including municipalities, environmental advocates, agricultural organizations and the Official Opposition — have been successful in holding off Ford’s attack on the Greenbelt,” Tabuns said.

Green party leader Mike Schreiner said the government was forced to back down because of public opposition to its plan.

“People were clear during the election,” he said. “And they have been clear since Bill 66 was introduced: the people of Ontario want to protect the Greenbelt and clean water.”

Premier Doug Ford generated controversy during the spring election campaign when he initially pledged to open parts of the area to build housing – a promise he backtracked on after facing intense criticism.

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