By Michael Ruskin
The Provincial Government recently proposed Bill 66 which had a clause that would, if implemented, allow developers to build on the Green Belt areas of Southern Ontario. This includes the Oak Ridge’s Moraine and the Niagara Escarpment. Both of these are protected by existing laws put in place over many years by previous governments. The Niagara Escarpment is in fact a World Heritage Site, which tells us just how precious that part of Ontario is. Each Municipality was given a very small window of opportunity to decide whether or not they supported this and Vaughan, as is their custom, invited public response at a special meeting of the Vaughan City Council. Each person who wanted to address the Mayor and Councilors, was limited to five minutes.
The SFRA responded by delivering a very convincing argument which stated amongst other things that once this precious Green Belt has been desecrated, it could never be put back. Almost any law passed by a government could be later rescinded or adjusted, however Bill 66 was like breaking an egg, which, once broken, could never be made whole again. We asked the City to oppose the Bill in every possible way in the same way that they would absolutely not allow a resident to uproot beautiful trees in his or her backyard to clear space to build a small apartment unit with a few apartments in that backyard. We pointed out that the Green Belt is OUR backyard, and no development should be allowed in that space.
There were other speakers, who supported our argument and at the end of the meeting, we are happy to report that the Vaughan City Council unanimously passed a resolution that was to be delivered to the Provincial Government stating without reservation, that Vaughan was opposed to the Bill and would not allow any development on Green Belt lands that fall within its boundaries. There were other Municipalities that sent similar messages to the Province, which resulted in the relevant parts of Bill 66 being cancelled.
The SFRA is very happy that we were able to play a role in influencing this important decision of the Provincial Government.