In this CBC video of a compilation of his comments, we see that Doug Ford has lied over and over about his environmental “commitments” with respect to the Greenbelt.
In February 2018 Doug Ford spoke to a group while campaigning to be PC Leader: “We will open up the Greenbelt, not all of it but we’re gonna open up a big chunk of it up and we’re gonna start building”. Ford said developing parts of the 7,200 square kilometres of protected land would help ease the housing affordability crisis in the GTA.
In April 2018 Ford gave us his commitment that whatever he uses in the Greenbelt will be replaced with more “Greenbelt land” – presumably further out. (Note: it doesn’t work that way. Not all land is equal in terms of its ecological importance or its farming value).
In May 2018, “The people have spoken — we won’t touch the Greenbelt. Very simple. That’s it, the people have spoken. I’m going to listen to them. They don’t want me to touch the Greenbelt, we won’t touch the Greenbelt,” Ford said in a statement.
In April 2021, Ford reiterated that he was not going to touch the Greenbelt.
In November 2022 he informs us that we have a housing crisis today that we didn’t have 4 years ago.
But hang on a minute… In 2018 he said he was gonna open up a big chunk of permanently protected land to start building to “ ease the housing affordability crisis in the GTA“.
What is it that Doug Ford does not understand about speaking on camera or on the record to the media? Does he not realize that his comments are recorded to be revisited?
Or is it simply that he doesn’t care? Or that he sees himself as the Emperor of Ontario: once elected he can do whatever he wants and tough luck if you don’t like it.
Ontario’s Greenbelt consists of “2 million acres of protected land that works to provide us with fresh air, clean water, fantastic local food and drink, and world-class outdoor recreation and tourism experiences.” The Greenbelt act was passed in February 2005. The Greenbelt Foundation has managed funding totalling around $47,000,000 to permanently protect “remarkably productive farmland and environmentally sensitive areas land” that deliver health, prosperity and climate resilience to Ontario residents. The Greenbelt contributes $9.6 billion in GDP and supports more than 177,700 full-time jobs, according to a 2021 estimate by the Greenbelt Foundation.
At the same time Doug Ford is announcing his plans to dig into the Greenbelt, his government also approves “more than 14,000 hectares of land for urban development in municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area”. The size of Vancouver or Etobicoke.
So why does he need to go after the environmentally sensitive Greenbelt?
The simple answer is he doesn’t.
Everything I’ve read concurs that this move will be an environmental disaster at a time when we are in a climate crisis.
It will not solve the housing crisis in the cities. It will however create more car-dependent, McMansion-type urban sprawl that will cost more to service and require raising taxes to pay for those services.
In fact, the only ones who win are the rich developers who have bought land in the Greenbelt areas. They bought it cheaply because it was deemed to be not developable. They stand to make billions if this plan goes through.
If you want to understand more fully what’s at risk read this page from the Environmental Defense group.
So why should we care?
1. Ford has lied over and over to the citizens of Ontario. He has proven to be completely untrustworthy.
2. Bill 23 overrides the democratic process of the right for citizens to know what is going on and the right to appeal if they do not agree with a proposed bill. It stops democracy in its tracks.
3. This will create a process for selling off conservation lands without oversight.
4. It will strip conservation authority powers which protect us from floods.
5. It will remove protections from woodlands, wetlands and wildlife habitats.
6. It will gut or cancel municipal green building standards.
7. It will not contribute much to building more affordable homes inside our cities and towns where they are needed.
8. If we let this pass, it paves the way for more of the same from Ford & friends.
What can we do?
In an effort to counteract these unprecedented moves by Ford’s Conservatives, Cornwall will be part of province-wide “Days of Action” rallies to protest Ford’s land grab in the Greenbelt.
Our local rally is on Saturday, November 26 from 1 to 3 pm in front of MPP Nolan Quinn’s office, 120 Second Ave, Cornwall. For more information see the FB page https://www.facebook.com/events/872291804211772/?ti=ls
Other rallies in Ontario can be found here.
Send your love letter to Ford & friends here.
If you care, see you there!
ps. Bring signs, warm clothes (hats, gloves, boots), and chairs if you can’t stand.