Ontario not respecting environmental consultation obligations, auditor says

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Published December 6, 2023 at 11:33 am

Ontario auditor generals report environment greenbelt
Ontario's acting auditor general says the government is not respecting or using public consultation on environmental impacts in its decision making, particularly in its now-reversed plan to open up the protected Greenbelt for housing development. Cows cool off in a pond on a farm in the Ontario Greenbelt near Guelph, Ont., on Monday, July 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston -->

Ontario’s acting auditor general says the government is not respecting or using public consultation on environmental impacts in its decision making, particularly in its now-reversed plan to open up the protected Greenbelt for housing development.

A section in the auditor general office’s annual report says the government did not follow the Environmental Bill of Rights when it made “sweeping changes” to the province’s land use and housing framework.

Premier Doug Ford’s government announced in November 2022 that it was removing 15 parcels of land from the Greenbelt in order to help meet its goal of building 1.5 million homes in 10 years, but reversed the move this year after two damning reports and public outcry.

Acting auditor general Nick Stavropoulos says in the annual report that the government failed to meet its environmental obligations as those changes affected conservation authorities, heritage protection, municipal parkland and infrastructure, wetlands, regional planning and planning appeal rights, but the public wasn’t adequately consulted.

He says three key ministries did post proposal notices on a major housing bill, which accompanied the Greenbelt changes, but the legislation passed before the end of the consultation period.

The auditor says the Ministry of Municipal Affairs’ Greenbelt pro­posal notices lacked key information “and, in some cases, included inaccuracies.”

The Canadian Press

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