Omnibus Bill 66 Threatens Environmental Protection
The government’s recently introduced Bill 66 has been met with widespread concern about the threat to Ontario’s framework for environmental protection. What the Bill does (in Schedule 10) is to allow municipalities to pass “Open for Business” bylaws that give developers permission to circumvent planning and environmental legislation that includes:
- The Provincial Policy Statement,
- The Planning Act,
- The Clean Water Act,
- The Great Lakes Protection Act,
- The Greenbelt Act,
- The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act,
- The Places to Grow Act,
- The Environmental Assessment Act,
- The Environmental Protection Act,
- The Nutrient Management Act,
- The Ontario Water Resources Act, and
- other less well-known legislation that was designed to protect the people of Ontario!
Several municipalities (such as Burlington) have already stated their firm opposition to the provisions of the Bill and said they would not implement Schedule 10 even if passed. But we need to look at the nature of the threat to the environment, like water quality for example, to realize the danger of even a single municipality putting jobs first rather than the environment, if this legislation is passed. Water does not stop at municipal boundaries, and pollution emanating from one municipality can reap damage to an area well beyond the originating municipality. The planning and environmental laws were designed to be applied on a provincial basis except for specific area-designated legislation (like the Greenbelt Act), not to be circumvented one municipality at a time.
Staying on the water quality concern, we are reminded that the Clean Water Act, was brought into force after the Walkerton Tragedy that killed seven people and sickened thousands of others through contaminated drinking water. There are consequences for weakening our environmental laws!
So what can residents and resident associations do about it?
If you are in a riding with a Conservative MPP, please write and phone and message in social media your concerns to your MPP. And if you are in a riding with NDP, Liberal, Green or Independent MPP, let them know you are opposed as well. Contacts for all MPPs can be found at Ontario Legislative Assembly MPP Contact Information. And please copy the municipality in which you reside and if there are rural areas around, copy those municipalities also.