Highway 413 Webinar

Stop the 413

Environmental Defence hosted a Highway 413 Webinair on March 23 focused on how the highway will impact Caledon and what we can do about it. If you weren’t able to join, the information is available to watch again on YouTube.

Watch the Highway 413 Caledon community discussion here.

Do you want to take action to stop Highway 413 from ripping through our farmland, communities and river valleys? There’s so much you can do to make your voice heard:

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Growing the Greenbelt 2021 Webinar


A free webinar will be hosted by the Ontario Headwaters Institute to learn about responding to the Environmental Registry of Ontario request for feedback on ways to grow the size of the Greenbelt. Submissions must be made by April 19, 2021

This webinar, part of Growing the Greenbelt 2021: REGIONAL RESILIENCE will feature insight from professional planner and Greenbelt educator Susan Lloyd Swail speaking on ‘The Consultation and its Six Questions’.

Date: Thursday, April 1, 2021 7 – 8:15 p.m. ET
Registration is required

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Update on proposed Bill 257 – please add your voice

March - field

On March 8, we advised that FUN has written to Hon. Steve Clark as we are concerned, disappointed and angry that he has introduced legislation that amends the Planning Act to provide that Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs) are not required and are deemed to never have been required to be consistent with Provincial Policy Statements (PPS) issued under subsection 3 (1); that is, except for such orders that apply to land in the Greenbelt Area.

The Environmental Registry of Ontario has now posted the proposal for comments by the public; the deadline for submissions is April 3, 2021 11:59 pm. On March 8, FUN asked you to send letters to the politicians; we now ask you to add your voice again by submitting your opinions ERO posting.

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Bill 245 Amalgamates Five Tribunals into One – why the haste?

LPAT - view of woods

Our major concern with the amalgamation of five tribunals, each of which deals with specialized areas of law and practice, is the potential loss of appreciation and sensitivity to the cases dealt with by these individual tribunals. Each tribunal requires adjudicators that have specialised expertise in the subject matter of the appeals that they hear, and in the interpretation of their home statutes, in addition to adjudicative expertise. The more specialised the tribunal’s jurisdiction, the more this would be an issue.

For example for hearings before the Conservation Review Board (under the Ontario Heritage Act) you knew you would be heard by someone who was familiar with and had appreciation for built heritage and had expertise in interpreting the Ontario Heritage Act. The subject matter knowledge and appreciation, and expertise in the interpretation of its “home statute,” will be impossible to meet with such a wide span of subject legislation to be concerned with. Given the diversity of statutes and subject matter over which the Ontario Land Tribunal will have jurisdiction to hear appeals, it may be difficult to make the case that members of this Tribunal, who are arguably intended to be “generalists” dealing with a number of statutes, will develop expertise in interpreting such an array of “home statutes.”

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Proposed Bill 257 a further attack on protected land

Ontario creek

Today, the Government of Ontario placed provincially protected wetlands, farmland and forests across Ontario in line for development, as the Province launched yet another sneak legislative attack on environmental protection and public participation rules.

Hidden within a Bill entitled “Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, Bill 257” are proposed changes to the Planning Act that will allow Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) to override key provisions of the Planning Act. If this legislation becomes law, when a MZO is used to permit development, it will no longer have to be consistent with Ontario’s fundamental planning principles – set out in the Provincial Policy Statement (the “PPS”). Except within the Greenbelt, lands currently protected under the PPS will become vulnerable to development at the whim of the Province, as the law will allow MZOs to be issued to fast-track development projects that destroy protected farmland, wetlands and natural features.

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Action Alert – Dominion Foundry Comments deadline March 4th

Dominion Foundry

As agreed by all parties — the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association (SLNA), the City, and the Province — the hearing has been adjourned (postponed) to give all parties more time to come to some kind of resolution. If they can’t reach a resolution, another court date will be set and the hearing will proceed.

This is great news (for now) because the parties have also agreed that the Interim Order will remain in effect. In other words, the province can’t continue with the demolition while we are discussing resolution.

In the meantime, the Province initiated a one-way “consultation” process which continues until March 4, with the province asking for community input. Using their “consultation” link write to the province today, letting them know this isn’t good enough. A regular two-way dialogue with the community must take place, something we have asked for since October. The process calls for submitting a letter in PDF or Word format – we have prepared a template that you can use as the base for your letter.

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Highway 413 – Back from the dead

Holland Marsh

(Environmental Defense, February 4, 2021) The zombie highway, Highway 413 is back from the dead. And this time it brought company.

The Ontario government has revived long-cancelled proposals to build two major highways: Highway 413 between Milton and Vaughan, and the Holland Marsh Highway – also known as the Bradford Bypass – that would run above Newmarket and straight through the Holland Marsh!

The Holland Marsh Highway was shelved in the early 2000s and was recently revived to go ahead – without updating the environmental assessment that was done nearly a quarter of a century ago. Meanwhile, Highway 413 was cancelled in 2018 after an expert panel found that the damage to Ontario’s communities, Greenbelt, farmland and water quality would far outweigh its benefits.

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The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Needs to Lead by Example When It Comes to Protecting Ontario’s Environment: Auditor General

Algonquin Park

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks needs to do more in leading by example on the environmental front by supporting, promoting and administering the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR Act) in a more fulsome manner, concluded Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk in her 2020 Annual Report of Environmental Value-for-Money Audits and the Operation of the Environmental Bill of Rights.

The report found examples by multiple government ministries of non-compliance with their responsibilities under the EBR Act that prevented its effective operation in 2019/20. The report states some ministries are still not posting environmentally significant proposals on the Environmental Registry or giving the public enough time to respond when they do.

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FUN response to request for comments on MZO implementation

Construction - Toronto

The Ontario government can now extend its control beyond the matter of site specific zoning permission to all site details. Yet the government has not provided a principled rationale for why it has done so. Planning is the responsibility of municipalities within the framework of broad Provincial policies to allow municipalities the flexibility to deal with their issues and priorities.

The overriding question is why and when should MZOs be used in the first place. This government is using MZOs far more often than any government in the past. By making over 30 MZOs since its election in 2018, the current government appears to have decided that municipalities cannot be trusted to implement provincial priorities such as “affordable housing, long term care homes and other health care facilities”, and that the government feels it necessary to make decisions unilaterally and override the due process (including community participation) of local planning by municipalities. MZOs do not require community consultations, or to require the provision of any community benefits.

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Draft Northern Ontario Transportation Plan released

Highway 129 Ontario

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation released Connecting the North: A draft transportation plan for Northern Ontario on December 10, 2020.  Transport Action Ontario has reviewed it in detail. Transportation Action believes that it is too highway-centric and needs more emphasis on passenger and rail freight.

In particular, it provides no concrete timeline for fulfilling the government’s promise to restore passenger rail service between Toronto, North Bay and Cochrane.  

Read Transportation Action’s full review

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