Report From the Greenbelt Coordinator

The provincial government of Doug Ford has waged quite a negative attack on land use planning policies in Ontario. However, what is important is that due to the cornerstones of good policy, the Greenbelt and Wetland protection have remained intact. This has been a major victory for the environmental protection movement. This is a good contrast with the United States where policies to protect wetlands were gutted by the first George Bush Presidential administration.

There has been considerable publicity over the attempt by the Ontario government to use Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs) as a land use planning instrument. In this regard, it is significant that the Sierra Club has played an important role in defeating two MZOs which were supported by municipalities.

One attempted MZO was supported by Simcoe County in a 190 acre forest known as the Freele Tract. The MZO was to permit the establishment of a waste transfer station by Simcoe County within this County forest. An article appeared in our Ozone newsletter against this MZO which generated letters to the Minister of Municipal Affairs in opposition. The government then announced that it had rejected the MZO request subsequently by Simcoe County. The issue continues to be debated however, by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).

The Town of Pickering also attempted to use an MZO to obtain a 6,000 hectare urban boundary expansion request to facilitate urban development in the headwaters of Carruthers Creek. The Sierra Club has had a long standing opposition to urban expansion here and encouraged letters to the Minister of Municipal Affairs against the proposed expansion. As a result, the province announced that the MZO request by Pickering had been rejected.

One of the most important zoning matters before LPAT concerns natural areas impacted by Zoning By-Law 2020-124, is the City of Niagara Falls. It is located at the North Side of Chippawa Parkway, east of Dorchester Road. The development impacts the habitat of a number of species at risk. These include the Snapping and Midland Painted turtles, the Barn Swallow, and the Dense Blazing Star. Site alteration that resulted in a Notice of Violation may have disrupted habitat for a rare orchid, the Great Plains Lady Tress.

There is also an attempt to justify the development based on the down rating of provincially significant woodlands based on claims of eventual loss of woodlands from ash die off, although regeneration is taking place from other tree species. A sewage pumping station is being proposed at the edge of a provincially significant wetland.

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