Ontario’s environment up for sale at bargain basement prices

Toronto, Ont. – The Housing Supply Action Plan released today makes it clear that this government is putting Ontario’s environment up for sale at bargain basement prices. We’re concerned this move gives sprawl developers a free pass to pave over farmland, forests and endangered species, putting our clean air, drinking water, local food supply and vulnerable habitats at risk. At a time where parts of Ontario are flooded and feeling the devastating effects of climate change, allowing development in our natural protection areas like forests and wetlands is irresponsible and dangerous.

What’s equally concerning is that this plan is short on details on how it will actually address housing affordability. We know that opening up distant farmland for low-density housing isn’t going to provide affordable housing, but it will make commutes longer, taxes higher and sprawl developers richer. With 300,000 acres of land designated for development, we have all the land needed for housing to 2031.

We are especially concerned about the following proposed changes:

  • It’s called the Housing Supply Action Plan, yet it lacks details on how it will address housing affordability. There’s no transparency on legislative changes.
  • Returns Ontario to the undemocratic and costly Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) style appeals tribunal that favours developers. Instead of municipalities having the final say, the tribunal will be making decisions. Citizens will have limited ability to stand up for the environment and the places we love. And, most housing delays were caused by developers appealing Official Plans, so this change will not help with getting supply to market either.
  • Weakens the building code by removing the requirement to install electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in new homes. This saves next to nothing and creates a barrier to EV adoption. New home owners will have to bear the cost of installing charging later at a much higher price.
  • Changes to the Endangered Species Act that will undermine the protection of endangered species in Ontario. From pay-to-slay provisions and delaying habitat protections, these changes represent a gutting of Act and will result in species lost to Ontario forever.
  • Cuts to Conservation Authority funding and diminishment of their role. The government’s proposal to knee-cap their regulatory ability, reduce their funding and limit their role in integrated watershed management will put us all at risk from natural hazards and severe floods.

Today’s announcement proves once again that Ontario’s environment is “Open for Business” for the benefit of the very few at the expense of a healthy future for all Ontarians.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, abraude@environmentaldefence.ca