Doug Ford wants to ruin Toronto's Greenbelt and people are raging
Doug Ford's Ontario PC government has spent the past four years enraging environmentalists, and his government is once again accused of forsaking nature in the name of business, with a Friday afternoon news dump announcing changes to the Greenbelt lands that surround the Toronto area.
A news drop on Friday via the party newspaper signals clearly that this is going to be terrible. https://t.co/7ZKr0BW4qu— Alex Bozikovic (@alexbozikovic) November 4, 2022
Ontario's Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, dropped a bombshell statement on Friday regarding the launch of a 30-day consultation on constructing homes in the Greenbelt, an area specifically set aside by the government to both protect important natural assets and curb the spread of inefficient urban sprawl.
In his statement, Clark referenced the late-October move introducing the More Home Built Faster Act, 2022, which Clark insists will "take bold action to address Ontario's housing supply crisis by building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years."
"Today, we are taking further action to support this goal by launching a consultation on proposed changes to the Greenbelt. These proposals will support our municipal partners' plans for responsible growth and help build at least 50,000 new homes, while leading to an overall expansion of the Greenbelt."
The province states that to accommodate the projected 1.5 million new residents expected to settle in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region by 2031, "our government is proposing to remove 15 areas of land totalling approximately 7,400 acres from the edge of the Greenbelt area."
In an obvious attempt to appease environmental groups and urban planners, the Ford government has stated that it is "proposing to add an additional 9,400 acres to the Greenbelt, including a portion of the Paris Galt Moraine and 13 urban river valleys in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, for an overall Greenbelt expansion of approximately 2,000 acres."
Oh, look, he's realigning the Green Belt while everyone is watching the CUPE strike.— Heather Fowler-Schlett 💙 (@HeatherJfs) November 4, 2022
Provincial officials say that any proposed changes to the Greenbelt must meet a set of criteria, including a greater than 1:1 offset in loss of lands to development, and requirements that affected areas must have the potential for homes to be built on locations adjacent to the existing Greenbelt boundaries.
Isn't the Greenbelt, the greenbelt for a reason, like it's composed of moraines, ecologically fragile/significant spaces?— mzmazz 😷💉💉💉 (@mazzjan001) November 4, 2022
Such sites must be located adjacent to an existing urban area on or near readily serviceable land.
According to the provincial government, "should these lands be removed from the Greenbelt, the landowners will be expected to develop detailed plans to build housing quickly. It is the government’s expectation that new home construction will begin on these lands by no later than 2025, and that significant progress on approvals and implementation must be achieved by the end of 2023"
Though this plan would undoubtedly result in additional homes built in the region, critics argue that the move would be extremely detrimental to decades of conservation efforts.
This might be the most sinister Queen's Park Friday Dump in a long time.— Mike Gibbs🏳️🌈🇺🇦 (@Mikeggibbs) November 4, 2022
They planned this months ago.
Everyone is talking Notwithstanding Clause and strike. They wanted the public at maximum distraction for killing the Greenbelt. https://t.co/fSShC7qqbL
Critics suggest that it would make far more sense to concentrate housing in areas with the infrastructure to support new residents.
I think there's an environmental case to be made for swapping land in the inner Greenbelt for a larger amount of land on the edges of the Greenbelt. If we're going to build more single detached housing, you might as well build it close to existing infrastructure. This ain't that.— TFCNU (@TFCNU2) November 4, 2022
Most are taking out their frustrations on social media, but the province has stated that comments on these proposals are welcome through the Environmental Registry of Ontario by Dec. 5.
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