Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat – Just weeks after revelations of impropriety forced the Ontario government to reverse its imposition of corrupt settlement boundary expansions on unwilling City and Regional governments, a leaked letter from Municipal Affairs Minister Paul Calandra suggests that the Premier and Cabinet ministers are doubling down and trying to make the mayors of lower-tier municipalities accomplices to the scandal by having them rubber-stamp the government’s forced farm, forest and wetland eating boundary expansions.
While the Ontario government has announced the reversal of the city and town boundary expansions in the short term, a letter from Minister Paul Calandra dated November 2, 2023 revealed a new consultation process calculated to “launder” the same improper planning decisions by replicating, at the municipal level the opaque, arbitrary and concentrated power that gave rise to them. Rather than using the robust planning expertise and transparent anti-corruption procedures of regional governments, which were elected with a mandate to evaluate settlement boundaries, Minister Calandra’s letter indicates that Ontario will “accept changes [to settlement boundaries] directly from” lower-tier Mayors without any authorization from elected regional or lower-tier councils and without time for public scrutiny or expert analysis.
“Asking lower-tier Mayors, who were not elected with the mandate to decide settlement boundaries, to unilaterally endorse provincially-enforced sprawl and override Official Plans is an attempt to make them the lackeys for the provincial government’s corrupt sprawl project. We trust they have the intelligence and integrity not to fall for it.” said Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence.
“Mayors must deliver a resounding “no” to this corrupt, anti-democratic push that would subject boundary decisions to the same corrupting forces that led the provincial government to force sprawl on their communities in the first place. They need to tell the province and its sprawl developer friends to let them plan to build homes, businesses and services inside their existing boundaries” he added.
At its heart, the Greenbelt, sprawl and real estate scandal is about the government’s decision to extend settlement boundaries and swallow up Greenbelt land even though it knew that it was both unnecessary to meet housing needs and was likely to reduce the efficiency of home construction by making it harder to increase production and fix the housing crisis. There is simply no non-corrupt way to justify further extension of settlement boundaries at a time when housing output is being throttled by shortages of labour, equipment and materials.
ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (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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