Ford government backs down on legislation that would have made it easier to build in the Greenbelt
Critics had warned Bill 66 contains vague language that puts established protections at risk
Ontario will not move forward with a controversial element of proposed legislation that could have opened up the province's protected Greenbelt to development.
municipalities that would have allowed them under some circumstances to override certain laws, including those that safeguard the Greenbelt.
In a message posted on social media Wednesday, Clark says the government has heard from legislators, municipalities and stakeholders who were concerned about the impact the bill could have on the protected lands.
The Progressive Conservative government announced the planning tool as part of Bill 66 in December, saying it hoped the measure would expedite economic development. Critics have said Bill 66 contains vague language that puts
established protections at risk.
'Use of this tool would have never been approved'
The Greenbelt — 7,200-square-kilometre area that borders the Greater Golden Horseshoe area — was established in 2005 to protect environmentally sensitive land from urban development.
Under the portion of the proposed law the government will scrap, municipalities working on a specific project — like attracting a major employer to the region — would have been able to pass a by-law to request provincial approval to override certain regulations.
3/3 However, our Government for the People has listened to the concerns raised by MPPs, municipalities and stakeholders with regards to Schedule 10 of Bill 66 and when the legislature returns in February, we will not proceed with Schedule 10 of the Bill.—@SteveClarkPC
The government had said that part of the legislation — referred to as Schedule 10 — would only apply to municipal development of industrial land.
"The use of this tool would never be approved at the expense of the Greenbelt or other provincial interests like water quality or public health and safety," Clark said in a tweet.
"However, our Government for the People has listened to the concerns raised by MPPs, municipalities and stakeholders with regards to Schedule 10 of Bill 66 and when the legislature returns in February, we will not proceed with Schedule 10 of the Bill."
'People were clear during the election'
"By working together, concerned people and groups — including municipalities, environmental advocates, agricultural organizations and the Official Opposition — have been successful in holding off Ford's attack on the Greenbelt," Tabuns said.
"People were clear during the election," he said. "And they have been clear since Bill 66 was introduced: the people of Ontario want to protect the Greenbelt and clean water."
Premier Doug Ford generated controversy during the spring election campaign when he initially pledged to open parts of the area to build housing — a promise he backtracked on after facing intense criticism.