Doug Ford says Ontario will review all Greenbelt land

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Published September 5, 2023 at 11:30 am

doug ford
Photo via Flickr Premier of Ontario Photography

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is asking the new housing minister to review the Greenbelt land removals.

The announcement came at the Premier’s press conference today (Sept. 5), in the wake of Ontario Housing Minister Steve Clark’s resignation from cabinet, and a cabinet shuffle over the Labour Day long weekend.

Clark, Ontario’s housing minister since 2018, announced his resignation yesterday (Sept. 4) after the integrity commissioner found he violated ethics rules when the province opened up parts of the protected Greenbelt to development.

Markham-Stouffville MP Paul Calandra, who was the long-term care minister, is the new housing minister. Calandra will remain as Government House Leader, while Stan Cho succeeds him as long-term care minister.

Last year, the province took 7,400 acres of land out of the Greenbelt to build 50,000 homes and replaced it with about 9,400 acres elsewhere.

In early August, Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found the owners of the 15 land sites removed from the Greenbelt could ultimately see more than an $8.3 billion increase in the value of their properties, and the province favoured certain developers/landowners in the swap.

Ford said Calandra and his team now plan to review all Greenbelt properties including the land given up in the swap. But that doesn’t mean the development will halt on those pieces of former Greenbelt lands.

“I’ve asked my new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to launch a review,” said Ford. “And as part of this process, re-evaluate the remaining land swap sites. These sites, these proposals will have to survive on their own merit.”

Ford indicated that if the property owners don’t come forward with homebuilding proposals, the land will be returned to the Greenbelt.

The review will be “informed by recommendations put forward by the auditor general,” Ford said.

He added that such a review was recommended to happen every 10 years by previous governments.

“We’re following the recommendations of the Auditor General, and we’ll continue to follow the the recommendations, but there’s going to be a complete review from on top to bottom.”

At the end of the review, it will be up to the housing minister to decide if more land could be opened up for development.

Ford also addressed questions about Mr. X, who was identified as former Clarington Mayor John Mutton, and his involvement in lobbying for Greenbelt lands.

Ford indicated that Mutton didn’t follow the rules.

“I encourage the integrity commissioner to hold people accountable that don’t follow the rules,” he said.

See the full press conference here.

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