Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Niagara Centre MPPs blast Doug Ford over Greenbelt grab


Published December 2, 2022 at 1:34 pm

From left, Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates and St. Catharines MPP Jennie Steven all say Bill 23 has nothing to do with building homes more quickly and everything to do with making PC donors richer.

With three of four Niagara Region MPPs being NDP opposition members, the reaction to Doug Ford’s Bill 23 which opens up areas of the Greenbelt for development has accordingly been overwhelming negative.

All three – Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, St. Catherines MPP Jennie Stevens and Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates – have the Ford government on blast, saying that wealthy Conservative donors having been snapping up lesser-value Greenbelt land at a steal, knowing it will soon be development land.

“Some of the Premier’s most loyal developer friends own properties on the land this government is opening up for development,” said Burch, also the NDP’s Municipal Affairs critic.

“Just this week, we learned that some developers borrowed million dollars at an interest rate of 21 per cent annually to purchase Greenbelt land of all things in 2021.”

Burch charged that in 2020, developers bought hundreds of acres of Greenbelt land for around $24,000 an acre. “They bought the land cheap because it was protected as farmland in perpetuity. Early estimates find that the soon to be newly developable land could be worth at least $380,000 an acre.”

He added the NDP conservatively estimates that one powerful landowner family with donor ties to the PC Party “is poised to make nearly two-thirds of a billion dollars in speculative profit thanks to Doug Ford’s regulatory changes carving up the Greenbelt.”

For his part, Gates believes that Bill 23 has absolutely nothing to do with building homes more quickly, the very reason the government says it was created.

“Doug Ford doesn’t have a serious plan for the housing crisis in Ontario. But what he does have a plan for, is making his wealthy donors even richer,” said Gates. “That’s what Bill 23 does, by opening up the Greenbelt for development.”
“We need to protect our wetlands, farmlands, and greenspaces. We can tackle the housing crisis without tearing up our environmentally significant lands,” Gates added.

Stevens called on the fact that during the 2022 Provincial election, Ford promised the Greenbelt would not be touched.

“Premier, you can’t tell people you won’t touch the greenbelt during an election, then cut it up once the election is over. That is putting your rich donors ahead of regular people,” she said. “It is a disturbing trend to see report after report that points out the greenbelt is being sold off to big donors to the PC Party.”

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