Doug Ford’s plan to open up 7,400 acres of Greenbelt for development, announced on Friday 4 November, shows we can’t trust a word he says.
The mask has slipped.
Back in 2018 Ford was caught on camera promising a group of developers he would open up a “big chunk” of the Greenbelt. There was a furious reaction and he did a rapid U-turn.
Now, emboldened by a second election victory, there is no need for a course correction. It’s full steam ahead.
The Toronto Star reports:
“Ontario backtracks on Greenbelt pledge with plan to allow housing on 7,400 acres”
The 30 day consultation period ends at 11.59pm on 4 December 2022.
Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark told the Star:
“It was a tough decision. The situation has changed and our policy had to change with it.”
And he justified the change of heart this way:
“Ontario is expected to grow by more than two million people by 2031, with approximately 1.5 million of those new residents in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region. This growth was recently confirmed by the federal government’s newly released immigration targets. To accommodate that growth and support the building of more homes, our government is proposing to remove 15 areas of land totalling approximately 7,400 acres from the edge of the Greenbelt area.”
But environmental groups were unsparing in their criticism.
Environmental Defence says:
“the proposed 7,400 acre giveaway to land speculators is a death sentence for the entire Greenbelt.”
"Stripping these 7,400 acres of protection at the request of land speculators would unleash a firestorm of land speculation across the entire Greenbelt – denying farmers the certainty they need to continue stewarding the forests, wetlands and soils on their land, and pushing ownership forever out of reach. It will also start a never-ending queue of Greenbelt land speculators at the Minister’s door, each with their own convenient rationalization for paving their own patch of Greenbelt."
They say there is no need for this attack on the Greenbelt as there is:
"a vast supply of unused “greenfield” land already open for development within existing municipal settlement boundaries."
The proposed changes impact the Greenbelt immediately adjacent to us here in Newmarket, west of Bathurst in the municipality of King. (see map)
The land marked in diagonal lines in turquoise is to be removed from the Greenbelt. And the land outlined in yellow is to be redesignated from Oak Ridges Moraine to a settlement area.
The photos show land that will lose Greenbelt status.
Gordon Prentice 06 November 2022
Below: Looking West from Bathurst at Greenbelt lands from the binoculars shown
Update on 9 November 2022: Editorial from the Toronto Star: The Greenbelt is for nature not housing
Update on 10 November 2022: Opinion piece from the Tornonto Star: Doug Ford's Housing Bill is short-sighted and will undermine long term prosperity