Protest against Doug Ford’s housing bill coming to region

November 25, 2022   ·   1 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Leader of the Green Party of Ontario, Mike Schreiner proved himself a strong opponent of Bill 23, in a telephone interview with the Citizen earlier this week. He is a strong of promoter of People Power. “First of all, none of the housing bills, especially Bill 23, will address the housing crisis. The government experts say there is enough land, so we don’t need to impact the Green Belt, bringing minority rule,” he said.

He was referring to the sections of Bill 23 that prohibit the public from being informed of new plans for development and blocking the public from appealing or giving input on any new development plans. 

Mr. Schreiner went on to make clear that “We need to make zoning changes to develop fourplexes, more mid- rise buildings along major roads and transit corridors. That would create the needed plan. Doing the building that way, we don’t need to plow over farmland or land that protects our environment.”

What is included in Bill 23 is stripping the Conservation Authorities of most of their power, stopping them from speaking to the public or the press, as well as stopping them working with municipalities. This robs municipalities of the expertise they need to plan development safely.

This allows speculators who have invested by purchasing years ago environmentally sensitive land, specifically the wetlands, to make fortunes developing those delicate eco-systems with large luxurious homes.

A Webinar about Bill 23 featured:

Anne Bell PhD, Director of Conservation and Education, Ontario Nature;

Lynda Lukasik, PhD. Executive Director, Environment Hamilton and

Phil Pothen J.D. MLA Ontario Environment Program Manager – Environmental Defence

This webinar was meant to inform the registrants and as it was shared, with the wider public about Bill 23. The main thrust of the remarks and information repeated the diminishing of democratic rights, the unnecessary and positively dangerous plans to disrupt the wetlands and destroy what is left of valuable farmland.

Ontario’s Housing Affordability Task Force, the government’s own experts, explained in its 2022 report and said, “We do not need to sacrifice environmental protection to address the housing crisis. … a shortage of land isn’t the cause of the problem. Land is available, both inside the existing built-up areas and on undeveloped land outside greenbelts. … Most of the solution must come from densification. Greenbelts and other environmentally sensitive areas must be protected, and farms provide food and food security.” (Housing Affordability Task Force report, p.10)

During the Bill 23 webinar, Phil Pothen presented a map titled The Big Sprawl and the GTHA’s Contested Countryside which shows the available land for development primarily within urban limits. The colours identifying the separate tracts of land, clearly make evidence that there is no need to infringe on the Green Belt, as Doug Ford assured Ontario he would always protect. Plenty of land is suitable for development, much easier for municipalities to service and for residents to access the conveniences of urban centres. Those areas are red and yellow.

He pointed out that there is more than enough land for developing over the next decades.

Mike Schreiner elaborated on the failings of Bill 23, saying, “Developing this housing plan, [it is] much more expensive to place houses away from urban centres. People will be forced to make long commutes, costing them time and money unnecessarily; there’ll be increased property taxes because of the high cost of serving sprawl. Also endangering lives and property by events from severe weather.”

He pointed out the current global food crisis caused by the climate crisis.

“If there was ever an argument to protect our farmland, this is it,” he emphasized. “Ontario’s environmental protection laws have been critical to the welfare of our farmland and wetlands.

“A real example,” he mentioned, “that highlights this is that in 1954, Hurricane Hazel caused huge damage and and the province said never again. We still have floods and extreme weather events but not to the extent of other provinces where environmental protections are not as good.”

A question was posed about the motive behind this unbalanced housing Bill 23.

He laid it out: “People who going to benefit are a handful of land speculators. The Ford government is ignoring his own experts; going to such great length to benefit to speculators.

“The winners,” said Mike Schreiner, “will be in the hands of the few speculators and the losers are the rest of us.”

What can we do, is the top question and he recommended that we participate in these pop up protests; write to our MPP; put signs on our lawns; push our municipalities to push back.

“He’s proposed opening the Green Belt before and people went against that and he back- tracked,” Mr. Schreiner recalled, praising, “People power can stop this.”

As leader of Ontario’s Green Party, Mr. Schreiner has spoken out in the House and at question period, pushing the narrative that housing bills to increase housing supply must only use available land and he hopes community groups will continue to push on that.

“People power has forced him to back track in the past, to keep his explicit promise especially because we know how important are the Conservation Authorities and the lands they protect.”

Ontario Nature sums Bill 23 up succinctly:

“All in all Bill 23 and the accompanying policy changes spell disaster for the farmland and natural areas that sustain us. It is an environmental degradation writ large, premised on the faulty assumption there should be no limited to sprawl, that no place should spared from the bulldozers, and that public input to planning decisions is nothing more that an useless distraction. If passed, these will set land use planning back decades and will stymie societal efforts to address the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss through enlightened environmental planning and decision-making.”

A protest rally against Bill 23 will be held at Dufferin Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones’ Orangeville Office, 180 Broadway Avenue on Friday, Nov. 25th at 1:00 pm. 

Hope to see you there.

Readers Comments (1)

  1. susan wood says:

    This is totally unacceptable


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