Statement by Phil Pothen, Ontario Environment Program Manager, Environmental Defence, on Premier Doug Ford failing to meaningful back down on plans to hand over Greenbelt lands to developers

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Huron-Wendat – This morning Premier Doug Ford continued to resist calls to reverse the environmentally disastrous $8.3 billion attack on Greenbelt lands. Instead of immediately reversing the Greenbelt removals following Housing Minister Steve Clark’s resignation, Premier Ford has tasked his own Municipal Affairs Minister, Paul Calandra with leading an internal “review” of his government’s deceitful, costly and destructive process. Shockingly, the way he described the review implied that it might actually result in additional parts of the Greenbelt being stripped of protection.   

Contrary to the Premier’s ongoing and false claims, this is not just a scandal about process. Rather it is a scandal about the government’s pursuit of policies that it knows could only make it harder to fix our housing shortage. We already have nearly 4 times as much land designated for development as we could plausibly use up over the next 30 years while building all the housing we will need at modest transit-supporting densities. Greenbelt removals and settlement boundary expansion would slow construction down by squandering our finite supply of construction equipment labor and other inputs on houses located in low-density areas. 

There is no path to getting us out of this housing shortage, or getting the government out of this scandal, that doesn’t start with reversing the Greenbelt removals and urban boundary expansions in their entirety.

Background Information:

  • Even prior to the current government taking office, there were already 35,000 ha (350km2) of non-Greenbelt farmland and natural areas designated for development in the GTHA alone.
  • 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.
  • Even without factoring in the 3,000 hectares removed from the Greenbelt, the current government needlessly expanded the amount of green space designated for development to 59,000 hectares (590 km2) of land in the GTHA. See more at:
  • Ontarians know that we can only fix our housing shortages by building in cities and towns where we already have services and where public transit and walkability 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.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( 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.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Daniella Zanchi, Environmental Defence,