The CBC has now revealed the names of the owners of the Greenbelt land which Doug Ford plans to open up for development

The Greenbelt land west of Bathurst which lies immediately adjacent to Newmarket (photo right) was bought by Green Lane Bathurst GP Inc whose President is Michael Rice.

The CBC reports:

“While removing this land from the Greenbelt would open it up for housing development, the Township of King's council earlier this week passed a resolution supporting it as the location of a new Southlake Regional Health Centre site, and asked the province to fast track its development. The resolution stated the landowner was willing to provide the land for the hospital site for a "nominal fee".”

Charitable Donation

Rice’s company now owns over 680 acres of Greenbelt land. And the King Resolution suggests he would gift it to Southlake for $5. As a charitable donation he could claim a receipt from Southlake which would offset the price paid against any tax liability. Rice would also have a huge tract of developable land left.

It has been suggested that the new Southlake needs 60-80 acres.

The current Davis Drive site – earmarked in future for ambulatory care - is 19 acres and Southlake’s Master Plan says:

“Almost 90% more space is required just to right-size our current units to today’s hospital standards…  As our current site is landlocked and has a floodplain to the east, options for expansion on the existing site are limited.”

Lands left over for housing

Even if a new acute hospital were to be developed on the Greenbelt lands at Bathurst there would be lots of land left over for housing development.

Michael J. Rice gave $1,200 to Tom Vegh’s 2018 election campaign. The donation was made on 1 December 2018 after the election result was known but at a time when Vegh was struggling to pay off his campaign deficit. It is not yet known if Rice contributed to Vegh’s successful campaign for re-election last month.

Vegh made no comment on the weakening of the Greenbelt when Bill 23 (More Homes Built Faster Act) was raised by Newmarket Mayor John Taylor at York Regional Council on 10 November 2022.

Gordon Prentice 13 November 2022

Update on 14 November 2022: Globe and Mail editorial: The Greenbelt needs to stay green

Update on 17 November 2022: From the Toronto Star: They recently bought Greenbelt land that was undevelopable. Now the Ford government is poised to remove protections - and these developers stand to profit