Allow further public scrutiny before changing PPS, groups urge Ford government
Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario photo.
AWARE News Network
The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition (which includes 35 organizations, including AWARE Simcoe) and the Ontario Headwaters Institute have asked the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to provide for further public consultation before proceeding to amend the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS).
A review process recently closed on the PPS, which is the primary provincial policy document that guides municipal decision-making on land use – for instance in areas such as housing, development, agriculture, aggregate and natural heritage. The Ford government’s plan is to deal with any changes resulting from the review in cabinet, without referral to a legislative committee or debate in the legislature.
“Given that all amendments need to be read as part of the total PPS, and that this is a regulatory process that will not be discussed at standing committee nor is scheduled for further public meetings, we suggest a second posting to the ERO,” the SCGC / OHI letter states.
“This second posting would allow the public to see the Province’s intended direction and solicit final comments before proceeding to a decision notice.”
The groups also urge a second posting if the government makes any changes to the PPS that weren’t in the original ERO proposal, or that might not be consistent with those announced amendments.
Government’s original ERO posting (the comment period closed October 21, 2019)
In its response to proposed policy changes, the SCGC noted softening of language from “shall” to “should” which can significantly impact communities and the environment. The use of “market-based housing” when discussing appropriate mix of housing emphasizes a backward-looking methodology based on past and current housing trends rather than one that encourages the affordable, sustainable, transit-based development that is needed for our future.
Special concern is expressed about the loosening of policy regarding wetlands that invites an ad hoc approach to wetland management across the province. “Wetland management is key to watershed planning and flood resiliency – both should be declared areas of provincial interest and thus not left in the hands of municipalities with vague wording and non-existant outcomes or targets.”
The SCGC submission also focuses on aggregate, recommending removal of new policies that would allow aggregate extraction in sensitive areas and those that would allow extraction in prime agricultural areas, and inclusion of policies that require aggregate to provide evidence of net need for new pits/quarries or expansions.