Dawn Gallagher Murphy's job is to deliver Ford's message. That's what she gets paid to do.
It is not to exercise independent thought.
Constituents who contact her about the Auditor General’s scathing report on the Greenbelt will receive the boilerplate response below. Dawn hasn't added any commentary of her own. Nor did she proof read and correct the original.
Here is Dawn’s email which is being sent to constituents. I have added my comments.
Dawn Gallagher Murphy (DGM): Thank you for your email to the office of MPP Dawn Gallagher Murphy on the Greenbelt development and the Auditor's report.Summarized below is the government’s response to the Auditor’s report and the steps that will be taken moving forward.
At a time when Ontario is experiencing unprecedented growth, it’s never been more important to deliver on our commitment to build at least 1.5 million homes.
My Comment: The CBC reports that Ontario has more than 1.25 million potential new homes already in the development pipeline — it just needs to figure out how to convince builders to get shovels in the ground. Developers are sitting on planning approvals, choosing not to build. Municipalities are, in general, not housebuilders. They give approvals to developers.
In March this year York Region's Housing Affordability Task Force showed total housing supply of 1,126,960 units - that's housing approved and proposed. The figure excludes over 225,000 units under construction. The Regional Planning Commissioners say:
"Data shows there are already over 1 million approved and proposed housing units in the development approval process. If a proxy of as-of-right accessory units is added, this number totals more than 1.25 million potential new homes." (See table at bottom)
York Region is planning to hold a workshop in the Fall to look at the number of approvals granted by their nine constituent municipalities and the number of construction starts. But we shall get a glimpse of what is to come on Thursday 7 September 2023 at the next meeting of the Housing Affordability Task Force. I hope Dawn is invited to sit in. And offer her views.
To continue reading click "read more" below.
Update on Saturday 26 August 2023: From the Toronto Star's Martin Reg Cohn: Here's why Does Ford needs to back down on his Greenbelt fiasco.
Update on 29 August 2023: From the Toronto Star: Doug Ford says Ajax sites could be returned to the Greenbelt after learning developer aims to sell
Ontario is Growing
Dawn Gallagher Murphy (DGM): Last year alone, our province grew by more than 500,000 new residents. That’s more newcomers than Texas and Florida, the fastest-growing states in America, both of which are roughly double the size of Ontario’s total population.
My Comment: Statistics Canada tells me that Ontario’s population grew in 2022 by 321,748. In the 12-month period from 1 July 2022 – 30 June 2023 Ontario’s population increased by 391,216. In the 15 month period from 1April 2022 – 30 June 2023 Ontario’s population grew by 504,618. But there is no getting away from the fact that the Province’s population is gowing fast. It just didn’t grow by 500,000 new residents last year. Here is the Federal Government’s approach to immigration.
DGM: Failing to act would only worsen the housing supply and affordability crisis, particularly for young families and newcomers who will see the dream of home ownership slip further away.
My Comment: Dawn is unable to define "affordable".
The Government still hasn’t come up with a definition of housing affordability. They are working on it.
DGM: As we welcome more people, we need to build more homes of all types. It’s as simple as that.
My Comment: It is not as simple as that. It is not just about the need for more homes it’s also about where they should go.
DGM: To do so, and in addition to other initiatives underway to build more homes, including in cities near transit, our government made the decision to swap non-sensitive areas of Greenbelt land identified and requested by many municipalities, in some cases for several years now, with other newly designated Greenbelt areas, supporting the construction of at least 50,000 new homes while growing the Greenbelt by more than 2,400 acres.
My Comment: The Bathurst lands next door in King contain Natural Heritage areas. But the environmental criteria that would have kept the Bathurst lands in the Greenbelt was dropped by the Government. The Auditor General asked: How could agricultural and environmental impacts not be considered in decision-making about the Greenbelt?
Billions of Dollars
DGM: Critically, this initiative impacted non-publicly owned lands adjacent to existing property and established conditions to ensure that billions of dollars worth of community benefits, such as new roads, parks, transit, water, and health care infrastructure, as well as significant non-profit housing, are fully funded by the landowners and builders–not Ontario or municipal taxpayers.
My Comment: The reference to “non-publicly owned lands” is an irrelevance. Land ownership of itself does not give the owner rights to develop that land as they think fit. The Auditor General tells us there are no details of who will pay for new infrastructure. She says this on page 12 of her report:
We found that the Housing Ministry’s Greenbelt Project Team did not estimate the potential costs and time requirements to service the 15 land sites removed from the Greenbelt with the infrastructure required to support housing, nor was it even asked to make such a determination. It remains unclear who (e.g., owners, developers, municipalities, the provincial government, etc.) will ultimately bear the full costs to service the land to support housing development, including the impact on property taxes.
DGM: The government also requires that new home construction begin on these lands no later than 2025, with significant progress on approvals and implementation achieved by the end of 2023.
My Comment: We don’t know how this will be done. The Auditor General says there is no formal framework in place to monitor and publicly report whether proponents (landowners and developers) fulfill the government’s publicly communicated expectations of development on the land sites removed from the Greenbelt… We found that as of June 2023, neither the Housing Ministry nor the government had further defined their expectations in order for performance indicators to be established and targets set so that progress and results can be objectively monitored, measured and publicly reported.
DGM: The non-partisan, non-political Office of Ontario’s Provincial Land Development Facilitator will be assessing site agreements against the government’s requirements. If conditions are not met, we will not approve the development, and the sites will return to the Greenbelt.
While we will never waiver in our commitment to build more homes, we recognize that there are areas for improvement as we move forward and continue our work to respond to Ontario’s housing crisis in a fair and transparent way. As such, we fully support or support in-principle and will enact 14 of the 15 recommendations put forward in the report to formalize processes and improve transparency.
My Comment: These breaches of good administrative practice should never have happened in the first place. A flawed process produced a flawed outcome. I want to see the lands returned to the Greenbelt
Housing Affordability - Definition please.
DGM: At the same time, we won’t deny 50,000 families a chance at home ownership.
There is no time to delay as we respond to the housing supply and affordability crisis.
My Comment: If there is “no time to delay” it would help to have a definition of housing affordability.
DGM: Our government will proceed with these developments, subject to our criteria and requirements being met.
My Comment: We shall see what the Integrity Commissioner says. And, in due course, the RCMP.
DGM: As we work to fulfill our promise to build at least 1.5 million homes, we will do so in a way that builds public trust and confidence in the process.
My Comment: I think public trust and confidence has been forfeited.
DGM: We’re in this housing crisis because "her" government failed to build. The previous government’s changes to the Greenbelt resulted in mega-mansions and golf courses. (Does Dawn mean Kathleen Wynne?)
Our changes will support the construction of at least 50,000 more homes while ensuring that billions of dollars-worth of community benefits, such as new roads, parks, transit, water, and health care infrastructure, as well as significant non-profit housing, are fully funded by the landowners and builders–not Ontario or municipal taxpayers.” A majority of the sites removed from the Greenbelt in December 2022 had been identified and requested by municipalities, in some cases for several years now, in order to build much-needed housing in their regions.
My Comment: Just Ford's talking points. Before Ford's announcement on 4 November 2022, there was no request from the Municipality of King to remove the Bathurst lands from the Greenbelt.
Ford Accepts 14 out of 15 recommendations (and therefore so does Dawn)
DGM: On the recommendations: We accept the recommendations on increasing awareness and adherence to proper records retention and stakeholder engagement policies by political public servants.
My Comment: The Auditor General said... the exercise that was used to recommend the removal of lands from the Greenbelt for housing... was seriously flawed and was dismissive of effective land-use planning. We also became aware of how non-elected political staff, and developers and their lobbyists, can undermine the technical and operational work of the non-political public service in provincial ministries, and the work
of municipalities and conservation authorities. We further concluded that fair, transparent and respectful consultation with the people of Ontario did not take place.
DGM: We have confirmed the enhancement of mandatory new staff onboarding and recurring all-staff information and training sessions delivered in partnership with the Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario. We also accept the recommendation to implement an attestation process to confirm the exclusive use of government email platforms. We also accept the recommendation regarding the Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario, and a request for his determination on this matter has been sent.
Regarding the recommendation on roles and responsibilities of political public servants and non-political public servants, our government will work with the Secretary of Cabinet and Cabinet Office to review our existing role and responsibility documents describing the relationship between political and non-political public servants in policy and operational matters.
Additionally, we accept the recommendation for a comprehensive overall review of the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998 (LRA), Members’ Integrity Act, 1994, (MIA) and Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 (PSOA). We will initiate a review of all three acts at an independent legislative committee to strengthen and ensure regulatory oversight. Ultimately, we are accepting all recommendations on strengthening processes and transparency. We can’t stop building homes when we are in a housing crisis.
On site selections:
As we’ve said from the start, no one was notified of any specific changes in advance of the public announcement. Additional information was required by non-partisan public servants to ensure sites could be assessed against the government’s criteria. More sites were reviewed than were ultimately selected for removal.
My Comment: The Auditor General says:
Direct access to the Housing Minister’s Chief of Staff resulted in certain prominent developers receiving preferential treatment. About 92% of the approximately 7,400 acres ultimately removed from the Greenbelt are five land sites put forward by two developers (which included a land site associated with a third developer) who had access to the Chief of Staff in September 2022.
DGM: Again, no landowner was given any advance notice about specific sites being removed ahead of the public announcement being made.
My Comment: False - but this is just Dawn being sloppy. We are now told that landowners were notified 24 hours in advance of the public announcement that their lands were to be removed from the Greenbelt.
DGM: All governments, including ours, receive countless unsolicited proposals from stakeholders, opposition members and constituents every day. 9 of the 15 sites selected for removal have been identified and requested by municipalities, in some cases for several years, in order to build much-needed housing.
On the majority of sites being received at a dinner function: These sites have been subject to longstanding requests from municipalities and landowners for almost 20 years.
My Comment: "On the majority of sites..." More weasel words. Dawn needs to be on a public platform defending this tendentious drivel.
DGM: I trust this helps to clarify the steps our government is taking on this important subject and our agreement with 14 of the 15 recommendations. Our government remains committed to meeting the critical demand for new housing in the province.
My Comment: No. It doesn't clarify anything. We know that Doug Ford and Dawn Gallagher Murphy are duplicious - for all the reasons set out in the Auditor General's report.
On March 16 2023 the Integrity Commissioner launched an investigation as to whether the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing contravened sections 2 and 3 of the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994 with respect to the decision to allow development on lands in the Greenbelt and Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve. This is what the legislations says:
Provisions Applying to all Members of the Assembly
Conflict of interest
2 A member of the Assembly shall not make a decision or participate in making a decision in the execution of his or her office if the member knows or reasonably should know that in the making of the decision there is an opportunity to further the member’s private interest or improperly to further another person’s private interest. 1994, c. 38, s. 2.
3 (1) A member of the Assembly shall not use information that is obtained in his or her capacity as a member and that is not available to the general public to further or seek to further the member’s private interest or improperly to further or seek to further another person’s private interest. 1994, c. 38, s. 3 (1).
(2) A member shall not communicate information described in subsection (1) to another person if the member knows or reasonably should know that the information may be used for a purpose described in that subsection. 1994, c. 38, s. 3 (2).