The Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods is a province-wide volunteer-based umbrella organization of community and neighbourhood associations. We promote awareness of urban issues, undertake projects which will enhance quality of life for residents of urban settings, maintain a resource base for information, share expertise, represent the common interests of member organizations before public and private bodies as well as to encourage citizens to actively participate in and become informed about community and civic affairs.
A Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) was issued on October 30, 2020 for “Project Lonestar” – a 22-hectare warehouse development in a provincially significant wetland in Pickering, Ontario.
The provincial government’s use (or overuse) of MZOs has been a matter of great concern recently and the latest one has prompted an outcry from environmental groups and one neighbouring mayor.
Only about two weeks ago, FoNTRA expressed to you its serious concerns about the current use of Minister’s Zoning Orders (“MZOs”) but has received no response to its reasoned arguments. FoNTRA is, therefore, more than surprised and disappointed to learn that, in the meantime, you have issued new MZOs for three sites in the Distillery District of downtown Toronto – without any public consultation, without any involvement of the City Planning Department, without securing any community benefits to support an adequate infrastructure, and without even any notification of local politicians.
Notwithstanding some ingenuous views voiced in the local media – see, for example, Alex Bozikovic in The Globe and Mail of 28 October 2020 – that is no way to run a democratic and intelligent planning system. Just because a move is legal does not make it ethical or fair. In the earlier letter, FoNTRA has outlined in some detail the evolution of MZOs, as intended by successive governments of all political stripes on the advice of several expert panels.
This is to express our strong opposition to your Bill revoking Ontario municipalities’ authority to use ranked ballots in local mayoral and council elections. The local option to use ranked ballots was instituted in 2016 by the previous government, and several municipalities, including London, have adopted it.
Furthermore this revocation is being proposed without notice, consultation or any credible rationale. And in a bill addressing pandemic issues! This is reminiscent of your 2018 slashing of Toronto City Council from 47 to 25 members in the middle of an election, cancelling Regional Chair elections in Niagara and York, also without notice or consultation.
Ontario Headwaters, along with 6 partners is offering a Biodiversity webinar from 7 – 8:25 p.m. Wednesday October 28. Steve Hounsell, chair of the Ontario Biodiversity Council, holds that “The conservation of biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth, is foundational to our pursuit of a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future. It is also vital for clean air, healthy waters and a stable climate. Yet we seldom connect the dots”.
This presentation will orient participants to the Ontario Biodiversity Council: how it works, its notable accomplishments, priority actions moving forward, and how organizations and the public can participate in efforts to protect biodiversity.
In recent months, FoNTRA has become concerned about the current use of Minister’s Zoning Orders (“MZOs”) and believes that the sudden launch of a flotilla of MZOs undermines the legitimacy of the statutory planning system. By stripping provisions for notices, public meetings, and rights of appeal from the zoning process, in our view, MZOs do not do so much as cutting red tape as purging ordinary citizens from the democratic planning process.
FoNTRA, respectfully, asks the government to confine the use of MZOs to extraordinary situations arising from the pandemic and to swiftly discard the recent wide- spread and undemocratic “enhanced” approach of backroom deals without notice, without public consultation, and without the right of appeal.
FUN recognizes the significant fiscal challenges facing the Government of Ontario, especially in light of the current and worsening Pandemic. We also believe that investing in and maintaining physical and social and health infrastructure, all the while addressing the Climate Emergency are critical to the future well-being of all Ontario residents. Recognizing this, our organization offers the following recommendations for inclusion in the Fall 2020 Ontario Budget.
High functioning infrastructure is a key requirement to attracting and keeping businesses in Ontario. The provincial government should provide increased funding and support for urban municipalities to maintain and enhance their facilities, with an emphasis on “green” infrastructure.
The Ontario government has recently made sweeping changes to environmental assessment (EA) law in Ontario, ending long-standing public safeguards designed to protect the environment and our health. These changes have serious and alarming impacts for Ontarians: not only do they restrict the applicability of EA processes to new projects and developments, but they also increase uncertainty about how new projects will be reviewed.
In response, the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) will be hosting a free one-hour primer on October 22, 2020, from 1-2 p.m.
Even the most diehard downtown dwellers have to confess their fantasies of leaving Canada’s big cities during the pandemic. I’m an unrepentant urbanist yet finding myself slowly seduced by the delights of rural Ontario and the liberations of the Zoom office. Surely nothing beats doing international video calls from the back of a sailboat drifting up a Prince Edward County creek.
If it’s happening to me, and to others envying the backyards, front yards and space of suburbia, will a whole wave of urban residents move home and workplace out of the central city? Has COVID-19 fundamentally changed our view of city life? And will that new perception change the city itself?
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FUN advocates on behalf of a large group of community organizations and ratepayer groups. Working together, our voices are heard by our legislators. See our latest position papers and letters.