Premier peddling ‘petty excuses’ about Greenbelt development: Schreiner

By Casey Taylor

Promises Made, Promises Kept.

It's a one-time slogan of the Ontario Government under Doug Ford and yet, when it comes to the Greenbelt, the leader of Ontario's Green Party says it's been broken bond after broken bond.

“Premier Ford, on multiple occasions, has promised to not open the Greenbelt for development,” said Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario. “Every time he does start to open it up for development there's huge public push-back and he's backed off on it — and now he's broken his promise once again.”

Schreiner told The Mike Farwell Show on Friday the Greenbelt lands are protected for a reason, saying they protect the farmlands that feed us, the wetlands that protect us from flooding, filter and clean drinking water, and provide space to spend time in and enjoy with our families.

“And the bottom line is, we can build [the] housing we need in a more affordable, economically responsible and environmentally responsible way that does not require us to open the Greenbelt for development,” Schreiner said.

This comes after, earlier this month, the province announced it would removing land from the Greenbelt, created to protect environmentally sensitive regions from development, so it could be used to build at least 50,000 new homes.

In doing so, Doug Ford justified the decision by pointing to federal immigration targets to bring in some 500,000 newcomers to Canada in 2025, of which Ford claimed around 300,000 would land in Ontario.

“Where are we going to put 300,000 people a year, almost a million people in three years, because of the inaction of previous governments that didn't want to take the bold steps to get housing built?” Ford said at the time. 

Schreiner, however, suggested the premier is peddling in “petty excuses.”

“What this is going to do is primarily benefit a handful of land speculators who are going to turn millions into billions and we, the people of Ontario, are going to pay the price for that,” he said.

He went on to say that price will be paid in higher flood risk, loss of food security, and in higher property taxes because the cost of sprawl.

“Think about it, it's like the sewer lines, the water lines, the roads, the transit, the hydro lines, all that costs money and we'd be much better off developing within our existing urban boundaries from an environmental, economic, and financial perspective.”

Schreiner, meantime, is calling on the province to abandon what he says is a 'false choice' between tall and sprawl by allowing for more multi-plexes, walk-ups, and mid-rises, among a number of other changes.

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