A Minister’s Zoning Order (MZOs) allows the Minister to directly zone land for particular purposes. The Minister does not have to give notice or consult with the public prior to issuing or revoking…
While people are dealing with the COVID pandemic, the Government of Ontario is setting the stage for development projects to proceed without public consultation or the right to appeal. Without alerting the public, the government has been issuing and revoking Minister’s Zoning Orders.
Zoning orders should be used rarely and judiciously. The recent flurry of decisions to expedite development on farmland and green space and in the City of Toronto by issuing or revoking zoning orders is a concerning trend.
More than 30 MZOs have been issued since 2019 – in the past the typical rate was one a year. Recent examples of the Minister using Minister’s Zoning Orders:
- In Aurora a MZO rezoned 10 acres of provincially owned industrial land to allow for residential development – there was no consultation with the City. Bloomington lands offered for long-term care residence: Province (Yahoo News, Nov. 12, 2020)
- A MZO was issued on Oct. 30, 2020 on the Pickering wetland to fast-track the development of a warehouse and film studio project – Province greenlights controversial Pickering development on protected wetland using special order (CBC, Oct. 30, 2020)
- In October a MZO was issued allowing above-guidelines heights for several high-rise buildings proposed for three parcels of provincially owned land in downtown Toronto’s West Don Lands. Toronto officials slam provincial order that sidesteps planning for West Don Lands (CBC, Oct. 27, 2020)
- MZOs have also been issued for 3 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 infrastructure, and without even any notification to the local politicians. Ontario’s decision to not consult Toronto on new developments “less than ideal”: Tory (Daily Hive, Oct. 27, 2020)
- The government issued MZOs in April 2020 that will pave the way for developments in parts of Vaughan (destruction of three small protected wetlands to make way for a large warehouse and distribution centre), Whitchurch-Stouffville and Markham (to allow a retirement community to be built on farmlands) and Brampton, again without notice. Ontario issues special orders to approve developers’ plans and quash opposition (Globe & Mail, May 26, 2020)
- In 2009 zoning orders were used for the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury – in April 2020, the government removed the protective regulations without public notice.
Update: On December 14, 2020, the King Township Council voted to refuse to endorse a request for a Minister’s Zoning Order.
“…the decision was also a fierce and stinging repudiation of Minister’s Zoning Orders in principle.
Said Councillor Eek of Ward 6: “The use of MZOs is an irresponsible approach to development under the guise of “cutting red tape.”
According to Councillor David Boyd “Asserting Council’s objection to the letter of support [MZO] request sends a clear message to our community that we value their input and recognize it as an essential component in the planning process.”King Township rejects a “Trojan Horse” request for a Minster’s Zoning Order to allow development in the Greenbelt (Environmental Defense)
For further information, review the Environmental Defence articles and the Submission made by the Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Association. The Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods also submitted a Letter to the Premier expressing strong opposition to the use of Minister’s Zoning Orders by the government. Toronto City Council has also expressed their displeasure with the issuance of three MZOs without consultation with local residents, City Planning or with City Council.
Please join Ontario Nature in urging the Government of Ontario to curtail its use of Minister’s Zoning Orders for land-use planning. Enabling and supporting public participation in determining the future of our farmlands, forests, wetlands, natural areas as well as developments within our cities is vital!
Use the link above to send an email to:
Minister Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Kate Manson-Smith, Deputy Minister
MPP Robin Martin
The Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods submitted the following letter to the Ontario Government:
December 1, 2020
Premier Doug Ford
Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
RE: Inappropriate Use of Minister’s Zoning Orders
Dear Premier Ford,
This is to stand with several of our member organizations, such as the Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations (FoNTRA) in strong opposition to the use of Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) by your government. The FoNTRA letter to Minister Steve Clark dated Oct 30th (see attached) has been unacknowledged and un-responded to by the Minister.
Further, Toronto City Council, at its meeting of October 27, 2020 expressed its displeasure with the actions taken by the Province through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing with regards to the issuance of three MZOs without consultation with local residents, City Planning, or with City Council. In addition, the Province’s overreach will negatively impact the City with regard to community benefits that would otherwise have been contributed.
We request that your government cease its inappropriate interference with local jurisdictions across the province through Minister’s Zoning Orders.
Attachment: FoNTRA letter October 30, 2020
c.c. Leader of the Official Opposition, Leaders of the other Parties, other MPPs, Toronto City Council, Residents Associations throughout Urban Ontario