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COLUMN: Greenbelt reversal shows importance of community power

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In Agriculture
Oct 15th, 2023
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Around 100 people gathered out front of Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop’s office earlier this year to protest the Ford government and Greenbelt scandal. Tyler Evans/OrilliaMatters File Photo

There was a vacuum of leadership from local and provincial elected officials that was filled by passionate community leaders, says advocate
Margaret Prophet
Oct 7, 2023 1:45 PM

This was a tough summer for the provincial government, politically. The Greenbelt land to developer friends scandal blazed through news cycles thanks to an Auditor General investigation, an Integrity Commissioner report, intrepid and dogged journalism, and a referral from the OPP to the RCMP for criminal investigation.

These investigations detail a process in which Greenbelt lands were removed at the direction and for the benefit of a select group of billionaire developers, who happen to also be among the biggest donors to the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, as well as attendees at family events hosted by the Premier.

The reports read like crime novels. There’s talk of deleted emails, secretive processes and warnings to not discuss or disclose activity outside the select group of insiders, calls to developers and their agents using personal or ‘burner’ phones, and brown manilla envelopes detailing developer interests pushed across tables at industry events to key provincial staff.

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