Greenbelt: Protected lands, (until they are not)

Ontario’s Greenbelt is an aggregation of farmland, wetlands, woodlands and river valleys that surrounds the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area from Niagara-on-the-Lake to just west of Port Hope. The Greenbelt was established in 2005 and was supposed to be protected from development forever. Both the Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing have long promised that the Greenbelt would remain intact under their leadership.

Despite this, the provincial government recently announced the removal of 7,400 acres of protected Greenbelt land. They did so without any public process, transparent criteria for land selection or opportunities for input from landowners, municipalities or the public. While the Ford government maintains it has replaced the lost acres with more land parcels in other areas, critics say the added land is not as ecologically valuable as what is being removed.

Perhaps more troubling than the broken promise is the fact that multiple media outlets have reported that some of the Greenbelt land identified for removal was purchased by developers a mere weeks or months before the changes were made public. Why would a profit oriented developer purchase un-developable land for tens of millions of dollars? The change of status of these lands will result in huge windfall profits for these developers, many of whom have made significant contributions to the Ontario PC party.

If you are unhappy about the Ontario government’s decision to remove greenbelt lands, here is your opportunity to let your MPP know how you feel. Tell them to share any information they have about the removal of land from the greenbelt with the O.P.P. in order to restore public trust in how important environmental decisions are made.  Your letter will be sent to your MPP based on your postal code.

The public has a right to know if any of these developers had advance knowledge of the government’s plans. Environmental Defence and Democracy Watch are calling for an investigation.  Politicians, and public servants who provide confidential information to a third-party, who stands to gain financially from that information, may be in breach of trust under section 122 of the Criminal Code. 

Season’s Greetings from the Brampton Environmental Alliance

Backyard deer

The members of the BEA Board want to take this opportunity to wish you, your family and loved ones, all the very best this holiday season. We look forward with optimism and excitement to 2023 despite the economic, social, and environmental challenges we face.

This year the BEA advocated at all government levels for legislation and actions to bring harmony and balance to social, environmental and economic issues. We partnered with conservation authorities and other agencies to sponsor events that highlight environmental problems and bring specific actions to our neighbourhoods. And we’ve supported our members in their work, restoring and protecting habitat, cleaning our neighbourhoods, planting trees and riding bicycles.

This coming year we will maintain our prime objective to have Brampton grow as a sustainable community. We will stay focused and strive for the future. We look forward to working with you as we continue building momentum for a caring and balanced Brampton community that is healthy and resilient, economically, environmentally and socially. Think of the planet as you complete your seasonal shopping.

Merry Christmas!!

Brampton Environmental Alliance joins protests over the Province’s Bill 23 New Homes Build Faster Act

Saturday morning dawned cold, wet, and blustery. By noon, the rain had stopped and about 50 people braved the low temperatures and wind chill to protest the Ontario government’s intent to remove land from the Greenbelt and to implement the New Homes Built Faster Act 2022, a bill that would further erode protections for environmentally sensitive areas in the province.

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Bill 23 means Brampton residents will be paying much higher property taxes

In last week’s blog, I indicated Bill 23, the Provincial Government’s Building New Homes Faster Act 2022 would mean higher taxes for Brampton property owners. The Bill was passed by the Ontario legislature on Monday. Brampton staff have been working hard to analyse the bill and now the extent of the impact is emerging.

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Ford’s Bill 23 will mean higher property taxes for existing Brampton homeowners

Greenbelt Sprawl

If you are a residential property owner in Peel Region, then you will be paying more property tax in the coming years if the Provincial Government’s Bill 23, New Homes Built Faster Act is passed by the Ontario legislature. Bill 23 is the Ontario Government’s response to home affordability. It is intended to make it easier and more profitable for developers to build new housing. The logic is that increased supply will reduce the pressure that is driving up home prices. This makes sense on the surface. But there are huge implications and unintended consequences of the approach this legislation is using to achieve the government’s aim.

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We need you to speak out against Bill 23

David Laing speaking on Bill 23 at the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure, and Cultural Policy on November 10, 2022

Yesterday I had the privilege to present to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure, and Cultural Policy regarding Bill 23 More Homes Built Faster Act 2022 that is currently in second reading at the Ontario Legislature.

As stated in a previous article this Bill, unless substantially altered, has the potential to inflict massive environmental damage on communities all across this province but especially on those in the greater Toronto area. Below is the text of my opening remarks to the Committee. If you are like me and believe in building communities that are healthy and happy through environmental, social and economic sustainability, then I urge you to let your MPP know that Bill 23 needs a significant overhaul. An easy way to do that is through the David Suzuki Foundation’s letter campaign.

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Bill 23, an attack on a Sustainable Brampton

Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act is the Ontario Government’s latest omnibus bill that is being fast tracked through the Provincial legislature. Purportedly designed to reduce red tape and allow developers to build 1.5 Million homes over the next 10 years, this bill proposes sweeping changes to multiple provincial statutes in support of the government’s “Housing Supply Action Plan”.

There are a few positive aspects to Bill 23 including:

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BEA Annual Meeting Registration is Open

BEA Annual Meeting

The next meeting of the Brampton Environmental Alliance has been rescheduled for January 11th, 2023. This allows the Board and Treasurer to produce a complete year end review and report. It will be a hybrid meeting starting at 7:00pm running ’til 9:00pm. Register to attend through Eventbrite. It is our first ever Annual General Meeting. Everyone is welcome to observe.

Voting members have the opportunity to define organizational priorities for 2023, to review and approve the Treasurer’s Report, to vote on meeting schedule, and to select Board members. Individual annual memberships are only $15.00. Organizational memberships are $20.00. Membership fees are used to purchase insurance for our member and advocacy events and for things like hiring student interns to help run campaigns.

Nominations are open for all Board positions. As this is the first AGM, we are electing all Board positions. We are an operational volunteer Board. Time commitment typically is a few hours per month. You may nominate yourself or another individual. Visit the Executive Team – BEA page for information on Board positions and to submit nominations.

Municipal Candidate Survey:

Helping you make an informed choice

The Municipal election is this coming Monday October 24th. There are over 120 candidates vying for 22 positions, 1 for Mayor, 10 for Regional and City Council and 11 for school board trustee.

Two weeks ago, the Brampton Environmental Alliance posted a survey to measure candidates’ opinions and positions on environmental issues facing the city. 102 invitations were sent to those who had available contact information. 28 have responded so far.

The first survey question assesses candidates’ knowledge and commitment to the 2040 Vision. The visioning exercise was a project initiated in 2017 under the previous municipal Council. The City hired Larry Beasley, a well respected international urban planner, and his team to head up the project.

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Join us Saturday October 1 for a walk/ride through farms and conservation areas threatened by Highway 413

Harvest Ontario Walk/Bike

Image courtesy of Environmental Defence

If you are interested in showing your displeasure about the Ontario PC government’s plan to ram a provincial limited access highway through the heart of the greenbelt all but destroying Brampton’s planned Heritage Heights community, here is your chance.

Several grassroots organizations have banded together to raise awareness about the proposed 413 highway and the 2,000 acres of irreplaceable farmland that will be destroyed and that will set the stage for car dependent development for the next 30 years!

You can join walkers starting from the Heart Lake Garden Centre on Heart Lake Rd. at 10:00am. You can join cyclists starting near Kleinburg or from Mississauga at the Lisgar GO station. Both rides start at 9:45am. Walks and rides end at the Brampton Fairgrounds in Caledon. 

At the Fairgrounds there will be music, entertainment and fun! Click here for more information and to register.