Bill 66 was introduced in the Ontario legislature just before the Christmas holidays. The short timeframe for discussion and consultation makes me think the legislators are trying to pass it before people have a chance to understand its effects. It is an omnibus bill, affecting dozens of different pieces of Ontario laws and regulations, many items of which are hidden behind indirect references, and all of which are to be voted on en masse. Omnibus bills tend to carry deleterious clauses which would never stand on their own, but which get passed only because of some other items in the same bill that are perceived to be more beneficial than the rest of the bill is bad.
Many groups joined together to provide information on Bill 66, and to make a concerted effort to bring our dissatisfaction to local municipal and provincial leaders. I made twodelegations to Woolwich Township Council urging them to pass a resolution to reject Bill 66 and to pledge that if passed, not to use this legislation to bypass the environmental regulations currently in place. Woolwich did pass a resolution, but stopped short of adding the pledge not to use it.
Bill 66 is a direct affront to the citizens of Ontario. Doug Ford made a pledge in May 2018 that the Green Belt areas would be not be subject to development. Now that Doug Ford is Premier of the Government of Ontario, I expect that pledge to be honoured.
Bill 66 affects existing laws and regulations at many Ministries, not just the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. It detrimentally affects the protections for workers in many separate regulations, detrimentally affects the protections for children in childcare, detrimentally affects seniors and patients in long-term care, and detrimentally affects consumers protections from wireless carriers. This is not an exhaustive list.
Bill 66 detrimentally affects environmental regulations more than any other. Under Schedule 10 municipalities no longer have to follow the regulations under the Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Protection Act, Greenbelt Act, Lake Simcoe Protection Act, and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, among many others.
Ontario and its municipalities have experienced the greatest prosperity in the last ten years, without needing to circumvent the environmental protections put in place by previous Conservative and Liberal governments. Removing these protections now will pit one municipality against another — if one municipality allows development in a protected area, it creates pollution for all the downwind and downstream neighbours, both in that municipality as well as surrouding municipalities. There will be increased infrastructure costs for those municipalities that receive the extra traffic from the development, but none of the anticipated revenue. Bill 66 is not something municipalities have asked for for, nor is it something municipalities need.
Speculators may have purchased land in the currently protected areas. Just having Bill 66 on the table has affected land values. Currently permitted uses for protected areas will become unaffordable, and the pressure on local governments to bypass environmental protections will be great. I’m happy to see many municipalities have passed resolutions rejecting Bill 66.
The citizens of Ontario are clear: Bill 66, with all its recissions of existing laws, must not be passed. I hope the elected representatives in the Legislature will fulfill their mandate and represent their constituents’ demands to reject Bill 66.
It affects every municipality in Ontario. Bill 66 allows municipalities across the province to create “open-for-business by-laws” that would trump critical legal requirements to protect water, natural heritage, farmland and human health and well-being. These by-laws would take precedence over municipal official plans.
It threatens drinking water across Ontario. Open-for-business by-laws would override policies in approved source protection plans intended to protect existing and future sources of municipal drinking water from threats such as landfills, sewage systems and improper handling of fuel, manure and pesticides.
It threatens wetlands, woodlands and habitat for species at risk across Ontario. Open-for-business by-laws would circumvent protections for these important habitats and species set out in the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) under the Planning Act.
It threatens farmland across Ontario. Open-for-business by-laws would bypass agricultural protections set out, for example, in the PPS. This could lead to more urban sprawl.
It threatens two million acres of natural areas and farmland across the Greenbelt. Open-for-business by-laws would override protections for natural heritage and farmland set out in the Greenbelt Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan.
It threatens fresh water and the ecological health of the Lake Simcoe watershed. Open-for-business bylaws would trump requirements set out in the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
It would undermine efforts to make Ontario communities more livable, sustainable and resilient. Open-for-business by-laws would override PPS policies supporting active transportation, affordable housing, green infrastructure and climate resiliency.
It would compromise transparency and public engagement. Contrary to current legal requirements (Planning Act, Clean Water Act), the by-laws could be passed without any prior public notice, behind closed doors.
It would leave citizens without recourse. Community members would not be able to appeal open-for-business by-laws to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
It threatens human and wildlife health through increased exposure to toxic chemicals. Bill 66 proposes to repeal the Toxics Reduction Act, which requires certain industrial facilities to consider ways to reduce the use and emission of toxic chemicals in their operations.
During the election, Mr Ford categorically promised not to touch the Greenbelt.
Not only is the Greenbelt home to 5,500 farms, 78 species at risk and 102 million tonnes of carbon storage, the reason it was protected in the first place was to protect a great deal of Ontario’s water.
But now Mr Ford’s majority government has introduced Bill 66, The Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, legislation. This will indeed open Ontario’s Greenbelt up to development.
Because it was introduced quietly going into Christmas, and the Ford Government has made no secret of its intention to push Bill 66 through quickly, I don’t know if anyone has yet managed a thorough examination of all the ramifications of Bill 66.
It may only be 35 pages long, but it’s an omnibus bill, which means everything you need to know isn’t contained in this draft legislation. You’d have to read through every one of the 22 laws it will change:
Some of the changes it makes may be good things, but the bad things thoroughly outweigh any good that may be there. That’s the thing about Omnibus Bills: many different things are bundled together in a package too big to be adequately considered in a democracy.
There is no reason Bill 66 couldn’t be stopped, and the good parts could be reintroduced as ordinary laws that can be properly understood and debated in the Legislature.
Our unrepresentative voting system has gifted Mr Ford’s government with 100% power to pass any law it wants, even though it was elected by only 40% of the votes cast. (A mere twentysomething percent of eligible votes).
So what’s the rush?
There is nothing stopping them from allowing citizens and the MPPs in the legislature to know what it is they are passing, and allow adequate parliamentary debate of all aspects. That’s how our system is supposed to work. In a majority government, even though the party with all the power can pass any law it wants, the reason we have an opposition parties is to ensure that our legislators make sure the laws they pass stand up to scrutiny. If there are bad unintended consequences, or even if the legislation is too broad or unclear, these things can be dealt with before they become law.
The only reason for pushing something like this through fast is to keep us from knowing what they’re doing until it’s too late. Keeping the people in the dark is not how a Government for the people would operate.
In the Region of Waterloo discussion of Bill 66, Waterloo Mayor Jaworsky said, “No one asked for this.”
Mr Ford keeps saying he needs to do this to show Ontario is “Open For Business.” But what does that mean? This law is supposed to “cut red tape” that prevents development.
But the fact is that development isn’t being prevented. There is plenty of room in Ontario, plenty of land available and open for development without going anywhere near the protected lands of the Green Belt. There is no need to endanger our water or anything else. That’s why municipalities across Ontario are passing resolutions saying they don’t want or need this.
Why is this happening?
Because when the laws protecting Ontario’s water and the Greenbelt were put in place, land prices in the Greenbelt stayed low. When a farmland can’t be turned into a factory or subdivision, it stays viable as farmland. But because of the low prices, some developers bought land in the Greenbelt, speculating that in time they would elect a government willing to undo Greenbelt protections.
Although all-party approved changes to Ontario’s election financing law prevented political parties from accepting corporate donations directly, the changes didn’t go far enough, because developers like Mattamy Homes were allowed to contribute ridiculous sums of money to Partisan third party advertiser Ontario Proud which specialized in attack ads against Mr Ford’s opponents. (And Mr Ford is undoing that election financing law because the people he is for have lots of money to spend to ensure the governments they want get elected. But that’s another story.)
The only reason the Ford Government is trying so hard to carve up the green spaces of our province with factories and subdivisions is because their rich supporters want to make a profit.
Ontario has been doing a pretty good job of long term planning, protecting sensitive environments, our water and our food supplies. Once farmland is paved, its gone.
The best we can hope for from Bill 66 is that decades of careful land management will be messed up. The worst is another Walkerton. Or another Elmira.
And if that’s not bad enough, Bill 66 does away with any requirement for public notice or consultation or meetings, and no matter what problems are caused, we won’t even be able to appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. So called “Open For Business” by-laws passed behind closed doors will trump laws, policies and municipal official plans developed through extensive and open public consultation. Communities would have no recourse to influence or challenge them.
And even if your Council doesn’t do any of these things, the Council next door might, and endanger the environment we all share.
January 20th is the deadline for comments to Bill 66 on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (EBR).
Be sure that you and others that you know speak up and let your concerns be known. It would be fantastic if your group or organization can make an official response or submission. There is plenty of information in the Bill 66 Recent Articles
linked below. There are a myriad of issues and concerns, but you can say as little or as much as you like in your comment. Don’t be shy about making comments personally – even if it is just a short sentence or two. I would suggest making it clear right at the top that you don’t want Bill 66. I am afraid to say that at this point they are not likely to listen to what we say, but they will certainly tally up how many comments support or oppose the bill.
Please take two minutes to send a message to the Ontario Government to stop Bill 66:
You can also visit the Green Party of Ontario’s Defend The Greenbelt website. If you feel you need assistance in using the comment process, the GPO advises you to Click here for step-by-step instructions to participate in the government consultation.
Join us on Friday, January 11th from 12.30 to 2pm outside of MP Bardish Chagger’s office / Waterloo City Hall at 100 Regina Street in Uptown Waterloo.The focus will be on youth, but all are welcome.
Kitchener-Waterloo Climate Save, RISE for Climate Waterloo, Divest Waterloo, and the local chapters of Citizens’ Climate Lobby and 350.org would like to facilitate and support youth climate strikes in our region … for their future. We hope to have youth climate strikes on the 1st Friday of every month after this.
Doug Ford is coming to town for a fundraising dinner tomorrow Friday, January 11th, with local Conservative MPP’s. Join with others from across our community to protest and let them know your thoughts about Bill 66. Bring a banner or a sign to explain that you value protecting our water, land and air and that public consultation is core to our democracy.
Bring some friends and join the fun.
We will meet at the main entrance to Bingemans at 425 Shirley Ave around 5:30pm for about an hour while they all arrive. If you are driving please try to find a place to park at other businesses along Shirley Ave. Grand River Transit Bus #34 runs every half hour out to Bingemans leaving the Charles Street terminal and returning every 30 minutes.
Since Premier Ford wants to quickly push Omnibus Bill 66 though the Legislative Assembly of Ontario quickly, things are moving very fast.
On Tuesday morning Bob Jonkman was among the WRGreens attending the Region of Waterloo’s tabling of the staff report on Bill 66. GREN’s Kevin Thomason made a presentation on behalf of the ad hoc coalition of Waterloo Region groups mobilizing against Bill 66 which was very well received, and two motions were adopted by the Region then and there.
On Tuesday night, Sam Nabi (Hold The Line WR) made a presentation to Wellesley Township, while a simultaneous delegation was made to Woolwich Township’s Committee of the Whole by Bob Jonkman, representing KWPeace. Woolwich Council will be putting together a resolution to be tabled at next week’s Woolwich Township Council Meeting.
If you can come out to any of these Municipal Council Meetings (and bring your friends), it will send a string message to our local councils that this is very important to us. With the Provincial Government listening to the developers who elected them, the more seats we can fill, the better. We need to exercise our grass roots, because that’s the only power we’ve got.
Monday, January 14th, 2019
3:00pm City of Waterloo Council Presentati 4:00pm City of Kitchener Council Presentation 7:00pm – Wilmot Township Council Presentation
Tuesday, January 15th, 2019
7:00pm City of Cambridge Council Presentation 7:00pm Woolwich Township Council Presentation #2
Monday, Jan 21st, 2019
7:00pm – North Dumfries Township Presentation
Part of the urgency is the upcoming deadline for the Ontario Bill of Rights.
While the holidays have been a wonderful break from Bill 66, we don’t have much time to send a strong, clear message to Premier Ford about our concerns this Bill could have on our community, farmland, green space, and natural resources.
I’d like to remind you of the upcoming meeting this Thursday at the same room at CIGI as our initial community meeting. Details are as follows:
Date: Thursday, January 3, 2019 Time: 7:00pm Location: Room A142, CIGI – Centre for International Governance and Innovation – 67 Erb Street West, Waterloo Map Access: Through main West doors (facing Erb St) near Caroline St. Intersection
A tentative agenda for the meeting is as follows:
update/status of groups working to book Council delegation appearances at municipal and regional councils
update/status of groups working to book MPP meetings in local ridings
time for groups to meet in breakout sessions and figure out next steps/activities
planning/discussion of January 12th Bill 66 training event/protest in Ajax
planning/preparations for January 15th event at Kitchener City Hall with ECO Dianne Saxe and other speakers
We had a tremendous turnout at our initial meeting and It will be important to have at least one delegate from each community group at this next meeting to help ensure a strong, co-ordinated response to Bill 66.
Please share any questions or ideas and I hope to see you on Thursday evening.
P.S. There is a draft Citizens Toolkit for Bill 66 that is coming together as groups across the province aggregate their materials and efforts. It is evolving daily and contains some good background and supporting material against Bill 66.
P.P.S Also attached below are some initial social media images and video that are under development provincially: