Premier Doug Ford Retracts Controversial Greenbelt Development Decision Amid Backlash

20

In the face of intense backlash, Premier Doug Ford announced his intentions to retract the decision made by his government to expose the protected Greenbelt land to developers. He acknowledged to reporters that the endeavour, initially conceived as a solution to Ontario’s housing crisis, was a mistake.

During a caucus retreat in Niagara Falls, Ford shared that he listened to the constituents’ feedback brought forward by caucus members on the Greenbelt issue. Admitting that he unfolded his undertaking too quickly and in error, Ford extended his sincere apologies to the residents of Ontario for not upholding his previously stated commitment to desist from interfering with the Greenbelt.

Follow us on Google News! ✔️


A report released last month by Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk indicted the Ford government over the handling of Greenbelt land removals. It revealed preferential treatment extending to select developers, with some enjoying direct influence over the resulting land extraction choices.

According to Ford, the selection process for which lands would be extricated from Greenbelt allowed for uneven advantage, leading people to question the government’s underlying intentions. He promised to not only reverse the changes made in regard to the Greenbelt but also abstain from any such future modifications in an attempt to restore public faith in his administration.

In spite of his reversal, Ford held that the decision to develop the Greenbelt would have positively impacted the housing crisis by adding substantial numbers to the province’s housing stock.

The report from the auditor general stated that out of the 7,400 acres of land delisted from Greenbelt, nearly 92 per cent was connected to three developers who had direct channels to the housing ministry. The removals could potentially result in an unprecedented $8.3 billion surge in property values for these landowners.

These revelations come on the heels of the resignation of a second cabinet minister, MPP Kaleed Rasheed, Ontario’s Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery. Rasheed’s resignation occurred in response to the growing investigation into the conduct over the Greenbelt land deals, with allegations of undisclosed meetings with developers in question.

Ford reaffirmed his acceptance of the errors his administration made concerning the Greenbelt. He believes that taking responsibility for mistakes and committing to rectifying them is a testimony of strong leadership. He also expressed his intentions to cooperate with any formal investigation by the RCMP into his government’s handling of the situation, should it arise.

Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles referenced the reversal as a “victory for Ontarians,” condemning the original decision as one meant to benefit a select few at the expense of the majority. Her sentiments were echoed by Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser, who expressed the need for transparency regarding the potential costs involved in this reversal and the behind-the-scenes machinations of those set to benefit from it.

While Ford refrained from commenting on the exact expenses linked to the reversal, he assured that the information will be made public soon. He also acknowledged the potential of legal backlash from developers but affirmed his commitment to finding a resolution benefiting all parties.