Statement from Phil Pothen, Land Use and Land Development program manager

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat – The Ontario government’s latest attempt to kneecap efforts to build more homes in neighbourhoods  and supercharge suburban sprawl is so extreme that even some long-time opponents of density are joining the opposition.

It should be no surprise to anyone that environmental NGOs, farming organizations and housing supply advocates are united in opposition to Bill 185 and the new Provincial Planning Statement. These new laws are intended to kill Ontario’s “smart growth” city planning system, abandoning efforts to make towns and cities build housing within existing built up areas and protect non-Greenbelt farmland and wildlife habitat from suburban sprawl.  They would see the province scrap regional efforts to promote more efficient use of construction capacity and infrastructure investment at a time when those efforts are vital to ending the housing shortage. They would also create a serious risk of corruption, by removing Ontario Land Tribunal oversight of decisions to approve sprawl.

However, these laws were designed to win support for sprawl from traditional ratepayers associations. Premier Ford even went so far as to block provincial legalization of fourplexes, echoing NIMBY rhetoric about letting “municipalities determine what is good for their communities”. That is why it is encouraging that today’s open letter, which opposes Bill 185 and the repeal of mandatory densification, criticizes the government for refusing to legalize fourplexes and has sign-on even from some individuals and groups that continued to express fears about denser housing in neighbourhoods. 

The Ontario government was forced to reverse its Greenbelt land removals after Ontarians from unexpected parts of the political spectrum erupted in anger about the corruption. Now the same thing is happening with Bill 185 and the Provincial Planning Statement. If Premier Ford and Minister Calandra pay attention to past patterns, they will stop this scandal before it happens, by abandoning these misguided plans now.

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry, and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate, and healthy communities.

– 30 –

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
Carolyn Townend, Environmental Defence,