Statement by Phil Pothen, Ontario Environment Program Manager, Environmental Defence, on Premier Ford’s First Public Admission that Greenbelt Removals May Be Reversed
Toronto | Traditional territories of the Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation – This morning, after weeks of mounting public outrage about his $8.3 billion giveaway of public rights to land speculators, Premier Ford admitted clearly, for the first time, that his government might restore protection to some areas of the Greenbelt.
While Premier Ford’s public musings about restoring protection were focused primarily on two particular Greenbelt parcels, we are optimistic that this is just a tentative, face-saving first step on the path to a complete reversal of the Greenbelt removals. After the Auditor General’s report, a reversal of the removals in their entirety is certainly this government’s only plausible way out of this scandal.
We are troubled to see the government still attempting to preserve its reputation by provoking land speculators into bulldozing Greenbelt land before 2025. Diverting scarce construction labour and equipment to prioritize building mansions on the Greenbelt would not be ‘progress.’ It would mean that vast numbers of more affordable and more efficient non-Greenbelt sites already designated for housing go unbuilt. It would be the worst possible outcome for housing supply, as well as for the environment.
- There are 59,000 hectares (590 square kilometers) of land designated for development in the GTHA alone, without including the 3,000 hectares removed from the Greenbelt. If some of the lands were developed at even the modest densities of Toronto’s Trinity-Bellwoods neighbourhood, only 15,000 hectares would be needed to house the population projected for the region by 2051. See more at: https://environmentaldefence.ca/the-big-sprawl-the-gtha-has-more-than-enough-land-designated-for-development/
- Ontarians know that building homes in cities and towns where we already have services and infrastructure, and where increasing density actually improves walkability, will lead to lower costs and higher quality of life. In fact, a new public opinion poll conducted by Environics for the Alliance for a Livable Ontario shows that 83 per cent of Ontario residents want homes built within cities and towns where services exist – and not on the Greenbelt. They also do not find the Ontario government credible on the issue of land supply and housing.
- Read more in our statement: https://environmentaldefence.ca/2023/08/09/statement-on-the-auditor-generals-report-that-the-ontario-government-colluded-with-developers-to-remove-lands-from-the-greenbelt/
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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