Statement from Phil Pothen, Ontario Environment Program Manager on Premier Ford canceling $8.28-billion Greenbelt land removals

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat – “While we welcome Premier Ford’s full reversal of the inappropriate removals of Greenbelt lands, the Ontario government’s $8.3 billion gift to developers represented just the most visible part of a dishonest and counterproductive push for sprawl that will only worsen Ontario’s housing shortage. To clean up what remains of the Ontario government’s land use and environmental mess, including Highway 413, it is essential to strengthen Greenbelt protections to ensure future governments can’t try this again.

We hope this change marks the beginning of a broader shift away from the government’s current misguided policies, including: forced boundary expansions in Hamilton and Halton, Waterloo and elsewhere; its lowering of Growth Plan density requirements; its gutting of Conservation Authorities; and its dismantling of regional land use planning. These damaging decisions, along with attempts to repeal laws which promote efficient land use and construction, must also be reversed.

Environmental Defence is particularly concerned that Premier Ford continues to pursue the wasteful and unnecessary Highway 413 scheme. Not only does the highway divert billions in public funds but also misallocates crucial construction resources needed for housing and transit. The only beneficiaries of building highway 413 appear to be a select group of land speculators who have invested in farmland and forests along the proposed route. Building 413 would mean fewer homes, slower, and worsened traffic in the GTA.

The only way to deliver the number of homes that Ontarians need – with the speed that our housing crisis demands – is to overhaul the zoning and official plans of  existing neighborhoods where people want to live. This would permit and encourage the construction of compact, affordable family homes on all residential streets – including those currently limited to single detached homes. This approach would expedite the creation of much-needed housing without compromising community integrity.”

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.


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