This is not a Green Party event, but will be interesting for anyone concerned about water protection and the environment. WRGreens will have an information table at this event!
Doug Ford’s government for the developers has introduced a new disturbing piece of legislation. Bill 66 would allow developers to bypass important environmental protections and land use controls established under other provincial laws, plans and policies, such as the Clean Water Act and the Greenbelt Act, that protect our environment and our health.
The Canadian Environmental Law Association has said that Bill 66 together with other recent “laws to eliminate or dilute important environmental statutes, regulations and programs … constitutes the biggest and most significant environmental rollback to occur in a generation in Ontario.”
Join us to learn more about the implications of Bill 66 for our water and for our future.
What: Our Water Our Future When: Thursday, 7 February 2019 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm Where: First United Church Location:16 William St W, Waterloo, ON N2L 1J3 Map
While we appear to have made important progress on turning back one of the most egregious components of Bill 66, there remain significant problems in this bill, including Schedule 5 repealing the Toxics Reduction Act. Major concerns remain that the Ford ‘government for the developers’ may reduce the support for monitoring and enforcement of legislation that protects our water, land and air quality.
Join us on February 7th at First United Church in Waterloo at 7pm to celebrate our progress on Bill 66 and to engage with experts as they explain other current dangerous proposals and corresponding calls for action.
We have two powerful keynote speakers: Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, former water policy advisor for Ministry of the Environment, and legal representative for citizens in the Walkerton Inquiry; and Bruce Davidson, Co-founder and Vice-Chair of Concerned Walkerton Citizens.
There will be lots of time to have your questions answered, as well as presentations from Susan Bryant of APT Environment on Elmira’s ongoing water contamination; Kevin Thomason of Grand River Environmental Network on countryside protection; and Arlene Slocombe of Waterloo Wellington Water Watchers on source water protection.
Refreshments will be served; please bring along your travel mug or water bottle.
This event is being organized by the following community partners:
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.