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Bill 66 threatens development on Greenbelt, said expert

January 17, 2019   ·   0 Comments

Written By JOSHUA SANTOS

Premier Doug Ford’s government tabled a new piece of legislation that will allow commercial development to by pass laws intended to protect the Greenbelt. 

Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence states Bill 66 threatens drinking water, undermines evidence-based city planning and removes protection from toxic chemicals for Ontario residents.

“It takes us back 40 years and means the provincial government will become deeply involved in many individual development decisions, said Gray in a statement.

“Bill 66 promises provincial intervention to advance development proposals on the Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine, within Source Water Protection Areas, and in formerly protected areas within the Lake Simcoe Watershed.”

Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 allows municipalities to apply for a provincial open-for-business bylaws. Bylaws would only be granted if a development will create 50 jobs for places with populations under 250,000 or 100 jobs in larger communities.

Mayor Allan Thompson said the Town is currently reviewing the potential impacts of Bill 66 on the community. 

“While council as a whole makes decisions as they relate to development, I can say that the preservation and protection of Caledon’s agricultural land and natural environment is very important to the residents of Caledon and must be strongly considered in all decisions made by council,” said Thompson. 

Gray said the Bill will open up the Greenbelt to factories and retail and resident developments while opening up protected areas in the watershed of Lake Simcoe and Source Water Protection Areas.

“What this means is that areas that people have been using for recreation will turn into subdivisions,” Gray said to the Citizen. It means property taxes for people in Caledon will likely go up because as you can imagine, if you build subdivisions out into the Greenbelt, they need roads to go to them, they need sewers, they need water supplies.

“Of course, these are low density developments, far from existing communities so they’re very, very expensive. All those services that you would normally supply to a new development have to go these remote areas at a great distance.”

He said the Headwaters, Humber and Credit Rivers will be affected if development occurs. 

“The Greenbelt, Moraine and Niagara Escarpment are areas for 50 years have had increased protection. Having them developed is a really huge slide backwards, said Gray.

Gray said once you put a subdivision in the middle of a farm community and have people move in, they won’t like the smell of manure and won’t like to share the roads with farm tractors. 

“You really see an erosion in the quality of life and the business opportunities for the farm community, said Gray.

 He said opening the Greenbelt to development will set free rampant land speculation by developers, resulting in a loss of farmlands and the disruption of farm communities.

Developers will come in and drive up the prices of farmlands when they change the area to a subdivision. 

“That makes it difficult for the farmers to transfer the land within their families or that land to stay as farmland. Of course, this is all irreplaceable prime agricultural land in Southern Ontario and the more that we lose, the less ability we have to grow food.”

He said there are health risks involved if development occurs, noting the importance of the Source Water Protection Areas.

Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones submitted a column to the Citizen stating the measures proposed by the provincial government are meant to reduce red tape for job creators. 

“We need to regain our competitive advantage by making it easier for businesses to operate in Ontario, Jones’ column states. We have proposed a wide range of regulatory changes that reduce unnecessary, outdated and duplicate regulations. 

“The Open for Business planning tool is going to create jobs in communities throughout the province. This tool will provide assistance to municipalities on navigating the development approvals process for job creators.”

The column also states the government will not support projects that do not protect the Greenbelt.



         

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