Premier Doug Ford justifies a proposal to build tens of thousands of new homes on land that is now part of Ontario’s Greenbelt by saying the province’s housing crisis has worsened — and that it
Premier Doug Ford justifies a proposal to build tens of thousands of new homes on land that is now part of Ontario’s Greenbelt by saying the province’s housing crisis has worsened — and that it will become more serious now that the federal government has unveiled a plan to bring half a million more immigrants per year.
“We have a housing crisis that we didn’t have four years ago,” Ford said at a Monday news conference.
“We’re going to make sure we get housing built.”
The proposal, which was released Friday, aims to build at least 50,000 new homes on more than a dozen lots currently in the Greenbelt, while adding about 2,000 acres of conservation land elsewhere. It’s an idea that’s drawing criticism from opposition politicians and affordable housing advocates after the Ford government pledged last year not to cut the Greenbelt or swap land.
“I want to be clear: We will not in any way accept proposals that will displace land in the Greenbelt or open Greenbelt land to any type of development,” Housing Minister Steve Clark said. in February 2021, upon confirmation of expansion plans. the protected area by adding a moraine south of Toronto and a series of urban river lands.
But the province now says it is launching a 30-day consultation on removing about 7,400 acres in 15 different parcels of land and adding 9,400 acres in other areas as part of its construction plan. 1.5 million homes over the next decade to alleviate Ontario’s severe housing shortage.
You can read the government’s full proposal below.
But More Neighbors Toronto, an advocacy group aiming to tackle the long-term political, social and economic consequences of unaffordable housing, says the decision to cut land from the Greenbelt is unjustified.
“I think we’d probably take a different tone if the province said, ‘Hey, we’re going to open up parts of the Greenbelt, but it’s going to be transit-focused, medium-density,’ the kinds of communities that we want to see,” said Rocky Petkov, an attorney for the group.
“Just keep your promise. You promised not to touch the Greenbelt, but now you’ve broken your promise and that’s not acceptable.”
Petkov said that if the goal is to house people, “ideally we would build on the space we already occupy.”
Protected land is a ‘no go zone’, say Greens
If the proposal is accepted, landowners will need to develop housing plans quickly, with construction starting no later than 2025.
Following the government’s announcement, Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the protected land should be a “no go zone”.
“We have a housing crisis, there’s no doubt about it, but we have land within our municipal boundaries to build homes for people,” Schreiner said in an interview with CBC Toronto on Monday.
Schreiner said what the province is proposing will make life more expensive for people as they will have to commute farther to get to work. He added that it would also be expensive for municipalities, because “spreading services costs a lot more and we’re all going to pay for it with our taxes.”
Here are the areas of land that the Ford government wants to open up for development:
- Township of King: east of Dufferin Street, south of Miller’s Sideroad and west of Bathurst Street.
- Vaughan: North of Teston Road, East of Pine Valley Drive.
- Richmond Hill: east of Leslie Street, north of Elgin Mills Road East and west of Highway 404.
- Whitchurch-Stouffville: 11861 and 12045 McCowan Road.
- Markham: 5474 19th Ave.
- 10325, 10378 and 10541 Highway 48.
- 10379 Kennedy Road.
- Pickering: West of West Duffins Creek, between Highway 407 and the CP Belleville railroad.
- Ajax: 765 and 775 Kingston Road East.
- Clarington: northwest corner of Nash Road and Hancock Road.
- Hamilton: South of Garner Road West, between Fiddlers Green Road and Shaver Road.
- Hamilton: Between White Church Road East and Chippewa Road East, from Miles Road to Upper James Street.
- Grimsby: Between the GO rail line and Main Street West, from Oakes Road North to Kelson Avenue North.
- 502 Winston Rd.
- Hamilton: 331 and 339 Cinquante Road.
Here is the Ontario government’s full proposal to cut lands from the Greenbelt and open them up for development: