Greenbelt Is Not Open For Business
February 14, 2019
Greenbelt Is Not Open For Business – The Ontario government is withdrawing the provisions from Bill 66 that would have allowed local municipalities to open up the province’s protected Greenbelt for development while sidestepping laws protecting drinking water.
The Greenbelt is a 7,200-square-kilometres protected zone of farmland, wetlands and woodlands that stretch around the Greater Toronto Area from Niagara to Peterborough and was first introduced by Premier Dalton McGuinty in 2005.
If the Ontario government was to move forward with the proposed bill it would have meant that municipalities would be allowed to pass open-for-business bylaws meant to speed up approvals for new factories or subdivisions by circumventing a long list of provincial legislation, including the Greenbelt Act and the Clean Water Act.
There was much confusion over the bill itself as MPP’s and the Premier indicated that the proposed bill would not touch the Greenbelt, but in reality, the bill itself does directly mention the Greenbelt.
Bill 66 raised immediate alarms with environmentalists, who warned the bill would spell the end of the Greenbelt. Premier Ford first indicated that he would replace any land opened up for developers with other protected lands but recanted his statement a day later. He has now promised to keep the Greenbelt in its entirety.
Several mayors (including Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti) of municipalities along the Greenbelt quickly announced they would never invoke the bill’s powers.
The people have spoken, the Greenbelt won’t be touched.
In Markham, the Greenbelt area extends along the rural portion of the Berczy, Bruce, Robinson, Mount Joy and Little Rouge Creeks and includes the eastern lands owned by the Federals and Provincial governments and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. In total, 24.4% (2,590 hectares) of Markham is encumbered by the Oak Ridges Moraine and Greenbelt Plan.
When the legislature returns in February, the Ontario government has indicated that it will not proceed with Schedule 10 of the Bill. However, now that the Greenbelt legislation is behind us the focus now turns to the government’s newly announced plans to liberalize its Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The plan is meant to force developers to build denser communities that can be served by public transit, but many believe it will mean a return to suburban sprawl.
The people of Ontario enjoy their green space and are willing to fight to keep it that way.
* Greenbelt Is Not Open For Business written by Benczik Team Realty.
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