The plan to build 50,000 homes in parts of Ontario’s Greenbelt is going ahead despite what the provincial government describes as “broad opposition” to the proposal.
Last week, the province passed two regulations related to its controversial strategy of developing on the environmentally sensitive lands of the Greater Golden Horseshoe area.
The first redesignates lands in the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan area. The seconds adds 13 new Urban River Valley areas and lands in the Paris Galt Moraine in Wellington County while removing 15 other areas of land.
Ten days before those decisions were filed, a 30-day consultation period came to an end and yielded more than 27,000 responses from the public, which can be viewed here.
A summary of the comments posted by the Ontario government found that despite the “strong support for continued Greenbelt protections” there was “broad opposition to any removals” of land.
“Numerous submissions asserted that the proposal is contradictory to the vision and goals of the Greenbelt Plan and requested a full withdrawal of the proposal,” the government wrote in both decisions related to the regulatory changes.
A sign promoting Ontario’s Greenbelt is seen in this undated image. (Katelyn Wilson/CTV News)
The government also said that all responding conservation authorities and Indigenous communities did not support the proposed removals of Greenbelt land for development.
Meanwhile, Ontario’s home building industry supported the proposed amendments, according to the government.
The province’s proposal to build some 50,000 new homes on the Greenbelt, while adding new land elsewhere, first came to light last month.
At the time, Housing Minister Steve Clark unveiled a plan which would build on 7,400 acres of land in 15 different areas from the Greenbelt to fulfil part of its campaign promise of building 1.5 million homes in 10 years.
Previously, both Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Clark had said they would not cut the protected area.
No changes were made to the proposal as a result of the public consultation period.
In an email to CTV New Toronto, a spokesperson for the housing ministry said its plan takes aim at solving Ontario’s housing crisis by “acting decisively to resolve it.”
“It is the government’s expectation that new home construction will begin on these lands by no later than 2025, and that significant progress on approvals and implementation must be achieved by the end of 2023,” a statement from the government read.
The spokesperson said that it is the ministry’s expectation that at least 10 per cent of the 50,000 new builds will be affordable homes.
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