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Simcoe Speaks, Wants Accountability for the Greenbelt

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In Environment
Sep 25th, 2023
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September 13, 2023. — More than 250 Simcoe residents showed up for a public forum (both in person and online) at Grace United Church in Barrie yesterday to voice their frustration with Doug Ford and the Ontario Government. Hosted by the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition, and featuring a panel of several prominent guests, the event is just one of many that are taking place all across the province in reaction to the findings of the Auditor General report on the Greenbelt land swaps.

Watch it on YouTube

SCGC’s Executive Director, Margaret Prophet, who moderated the event, said “This government began with a mandate to rebuild trust with the people of this province and on that they have utterly failed. It is clear that this is not a government who serves the public good, but one that protects the private interests and profits of the rich and powerful. Trust begins with listening and the people are being loud and clear, we want accountability.”

That accountability was called for by inviting local MPP Ministers from the region, specifically Doug Downey, Caroline Mulroney and Jill Dunlop to attend the event. They, along with the rest of the cabinet, signed off  on these Greenbelt removals and this biased exercise, which will see the value of land taken out for developers balloon by at least $8.3 billion.  Unfortunately, all three MPPs were absent despite having been invited on three separate occasions to attend and respond to the questions from the public they serve. Three seats were set aside for them and remained unfilled for the duration of the event.

David Crombie, former Mayor of Toronto and Conservative MP, took this lack of attendance by local MPPs as evidence that, “they are no longer interested in listening to the public.  They don’t want to hear from you and that is an insult to our democracy.”

With two in-depth reports from the Auditor General and the Ethics Commissioner outlining the biased and lobbyist-influenced decisions made around the Greenbelt land grabs, there is ample evidence to demonstrate that actions being taken at Queen’s Park are not based on the needs of people but rather private interests of developers.

When asked by an audience member if people should be suspicious about the newly announced Greenbelt review that will include looking at 600-800 more developer applications to open up the Greenbelt, Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence outlined, “This government is untrustworthy.  They have made it clear that their only concern with the Greenbelt is how to open it up and destroy it.  People should not be fooled.”

The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition is hosting an organizers’ meeting for those that want to take further action in the area on Tuesday, September 26th at 7 pm in Barrie.  Registration is required via info@simcoecountygreenbelt.ca

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