After promising during the election campaign to protect Ontario’s Greenbelt, Ford is is reversing his promise and opening up the Greenbelt for development

Ford understands opening up the Greenbelt is incredibly unpopular, which is why he took to Twitter yesterday to attempt to shut down the media reports.

But the facts show Ford’s protestations are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. His policy, if approved, would open up the Greenbelt to private development and end important environmental protections.

Background

During the 2018 Ontario election, Ford secretly promised developers in a closed-door meeting he would open up the Greenbelt to development.

As pointed out by CTV, the video seems to indicate the idea of opening Ontario’s Greenbelt was proposed by developers themselves.

In the 40-second video clip, which was posted Monday on YouTube, Ford suggests the idea of opening the Greenbelt for construction came from developers.

“I’ve already talked to some of the biggest developers in this country, and I wish I could say it was my idea, but it was their idea as well,” he said. “Give us property and we’ll build and we’ll drive the cost down.” – CTV

The policy instantly panned and attacked as nothing more than selling off environmentally sensitive land to enrich private developers. Facing massive pressure, Ford backtracked and promised not to protect the Greenbelt. Here’s what he said:

“The people have spoken. I’m going to listen to them, they don’t want me to touch the Greenbelt, we won’t touch the Greenbelt.” – CTV

The Facts

A new proposal by Ford introduced Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. Part of the bill includes provisions which would allow municipalities to bypass environmental protections and zoning bylaws.

The Greenbelt is just part of Bill 66. Allison Smith from media outlet Queens Park Today explains other regulations that would be impacted:

The quote from the Toronto Star explains how parts of Bill 66 would work:

The changes were announced Thursday as part of Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act.

It would allow municipalities to obtain provincial approval to use a new open-for-business zoning bylaw that would bypass some of the existing development requirements. The bylaw would only be available if the municipality could prove a development would create 50 jobs for places with populations under 250,000 or 100 jobs in larger municipalities. Of eight Ontario municipalities with more than 250,000 people, five are in the Toronto region.

In a quote from the same Toronto Star story, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton echoes statements from the media:

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton said his town’s officials were still scrambling Thursday to interpret the bill, but “on the face of it, it looks like the Greenbelt on a case-by-case basis is open for business.”

Ford’s government responded by saying Bill 66 would not affect the Greenbelt. But as pointed out by journalists, the statement by Ford did not make any changes to the legislation itself.

City Hall Reporter Jennifer Pagliaro explicitly explains that Ford is lying and that development of the Greenbelt is sill permissible under this legislation.

In conclusion, all available evidence points to the fact that even though Ford promised not to, he is indeed opening the Greenbelt up for private development.


 

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