Greenbelt protections remain in place: Bill 66

by Steve Galea | February 7, 2019

Pressure from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) and other conservation groups and stakeholders has caused the provincial government to back off contentious elements of Bill 66, which would have opened Ontario’s protected Greenbelt to development that could have bypassed established environmental safeguards.

Province acknowledges environmental pushback

On Jan. 23, Municipal and Housing Affairs Minister Steve Clark tweeted that, “In December, our Government brought forward Bill 66 which amongst other things proposed changes that would create a new economic development tool for municipalities to shorten the time it takes to build job creating projects.

The use of this tool would never be approved at the expense of the Greenbelt or other provincial interests like water quality or public health and safety. However, our Government for the People has listened to the concerns raised by MPPs, municipalities, and stakeholders with regards to Schedule 10 of Bill 66, and when the legislature returns in February, we will not proceed with Schedule 10 of the Bill.”

Schedule 10 of Bill 66, An Act to restore Ontario’s competitiveness by amending or repealing certain Acts would have allowed municipalities to create an “open for business planning” by-law which would have permitted municipalities to request exemptions from some regulations in order to fast track development.

Groups like the OFAH, the Federation of Ontario Cottager’s Associations, and others provided input to the accompanying Environmental Bill of Rights Posting with letters that informed the provincial government they would not support the Bill as written, expressing particular concern over Schedule 10.

OFAH weighs in on Schedule 10

In their letter the OFAH wrote, “Our concerns are focused on Schedule 10 of Bill 66 that proposes to eliminate the application of the Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Protection Act, Greenbelt Act, Lake Simcoe Protection Act, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, Places to Grow Act and the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) under the Planning Act as is relates to the proposed open for business by-laws.

Each of these statutes and their related regulations and policies have varying degrees of necessary protections for the environment and other values. There may be some duplication or redundancy where efficiencies may be found; however some of the protections offered have no equivalency for certain development scenarios in Ontario.

Completely removing the application of multiple policies will result in inadequate protections, increase risks to important values and is a significant concern.”

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