Premier Ford reverses plans to develop housing in Greenbelt
Ford: ‘I made a promise to you that I wouldn’t touch the Greenbelt. I broke that promise.’
Ontario Premier Doug Ford visit bridge projects in Ottawa. – Government of Ontario
- Ford announced he will keep his original promise to not touch the Greenbelt.
- He called opening it up to development “a mistake” and noted that the development process was too fast.
- The RCMP is currently considering wether or not to investigate the $8.28-billion Greenbelt land swap after the matter was referred to them by Ontario Provincial Police
The Whole Story:
After months of reports, staffing changes and pressure from the public, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has nixed plans to develop housing in the Greenbelt, a protected area of green space, farmland, forests, wetlands, and watersheds.
The announcement came after several days of meetings with caucus and cabinet.
“I want the people of Ontario to know I am listening. I made a promise to you that I wouldn’t touch the Greenbelt. I broke that promise. And for that I am very, very sorry.” said Ford. “It was a mistake to open the Greenbelt, it was a mistake to establish a process that moved too fast. This process left too much room for some to benefit over others. It caused people to question our motives. As a first step to earn back your trust, I will be reversing the changes we made and won’t make any changes to the Greenbelt in the future.”
Ford added that he still believes opening the Greenbelt could make a major impact in the province’s housing crisis by adding housing for a minimum of 150,000 people.
“But we moved too quickly, and made the wrong decision,” he said. “The truth remains that Ontario is growing at an unprecedented speed. And doing more of the same and accepting the status quo will only make the housing affordability crisis worse. We need to build homes, we need to change the way we build these homes, building more density in cities close to transit.”
He cited modular homes, cutting through red tape and holding builders accountable as ways they plan to tackle the crisis.
The announcement comes after a troubling few months for the province’s leadership. In August Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released a blistering report that found the Greenbelt deal heavily favoured a small group of developers and did not consider environmental impacts. The report came with a list of recommendations that include revisiting the deal in a way that follows proper procedures.
Weeks later, Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake released his report on the Greenbelt deal, recommending that Housing Minister Steve Clark receive a reprimand for his role in the land swap. Earlier this month, Clark resigned, stating that it was his responsibility to adhere to the principles of ministerial accountability.
But the deal’s troubles aren’t over. The RCMP has confirmed that it is looking into investigating the Ford government’s Greenbelt land swap controversy after the matter was referred to them by Ontario Provincial Police.