More Darkness in Ontario’s Democracy

In Canada, after an election first ministers write mandate letters to their cabinet colleagues, laying out deliverables their departments should achieve. Some governments make them public (Trudeau, McGuinty and Wynne in Ontario), but others don’t (Harper, Ford). A newly-elected government traditionally outlines its program in its platform and speech from the throne; mandate letters may be more specific. Even if they are not made public, they can provide direction to the bureaucracy. If made public, they can be used to hold the government accountable.

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Heritage Register Review: Public Information Session

Toronto residents are invited to an online Public Information Session to learn about the City’s Heritage Register Review project. The purpose of the meeting is to share information about the project and answer questions.

Date: Monday, February 26

Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Location: Virtual Meeting

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2024 Ontario Budget Submission

Ontario wild lands - edge of lake

FUN recognizes the significant fiscal challenges facing the Government of Ontario, some representing continuing impacts of the COVID pandemic. We also believe that investing in and maintaining physical, social health and environmental infrastructure, all the while addressing the Climate Emergency are critical to the future wellbeing of all Ontario residents.

However, we are choosing to focus at this time on four matters: the growing Housing Market and Housing Affordability issue, Growing Protected Areas, Save Ontario Place, and Save the Ontario Science Centre.

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Peel’s boundary expansion has not been reversed

urban boundary expansion

Two years ago, hundreds of Peel residents descended on regional council to voice their opposition to a massive urban boundary expansion that would pave the way for 11,000 acres of prime agricultural land and greenspace to be bulldozed for future development.

This summer, those same residents, along with millions across the province, learned the startling truth behind what happened. Doug Ford’s PC government had worked secretly with developers to force urban boundary expansions throughout southern Ontario, compelling towns and cities to bend to their profit-driven policies.

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What third-party audits could tell us about municipal finances — and housing — in Ontario

Construction in Toronto

OPINION: Shedding light on government finances is never a bad idea. Here’s hoping audits will spur a necessary discussion about how Ontario cities raise revenue and from whom.

Over the summer, the Ford government announced the selection of a third-party auditor to investigate the finances of six municipalities — including Toronto — with an eye to clarifying the impacts of its recent housing legislation on city finances.

Update – December 13, 2023 – Ontario cancels municipal audits launched to understand impacts of its housing laws

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PCs reverse Peel dissolution

Mississauga City Centre

The PC government says it will no longer be dissolving the Region of Peel, an abrupt shift from legislation that has created anxiety among residents and frontline staff at the upper level of municipal government.

 It puts an end, for now, to the intense politicking that pitted Mississauga and Brampton council members against one another. 

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Highway 413 updates – battle over environmental assessment continues

Holland Marsh open fields and forest

PCs make another move to greenlight environmentally disastrous highway

After an October Supreme Court ruling found parts of the federal Impact Assessment Act to be unconstitutional, the PC government is doubling down and asking the courts to free its Highway 413 project from having to undergo the rigid environmental assessment the Act requires.

Ontario won’t submit Highway 413 assessment to feds until late 2023

TheFord government is closing in on making the case for its signature Highway 413 project — frozen for more than two years — as it prepares to send Ottawa new justifications for the route.

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Ford criticizes Ottawa’s funding for dense, affordable housing

Oshawa north suburban sprawl on farmland

Last week Ford accused the federal Liberal government of stepping on the toes of provinces and municipalities by bringing forward the national Housing Accelerator Fund which allows Ottawa to work directly with municipalities on housing starts—3.5 million of which are needed across the country by 2030 according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation—and has already seen some success since its conception earlier this year.

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Leaked letter to mayors suggests PCs learned little from Greenbelt scandal

Greenbelt and boundary expansion threatens farmland and wilderness areas

ust weeks after revelations of impropriety forced the Ontario government to reverse its imposition of corrupt settlement boundary expansions on unwilling City and Regional governments, a leaked letter from Municipal Affairs Minister Paul Calandra, dated November 2, 2023, suggests that the Premier and Cabinet ministers are doubling down and trying to make the mayors of lower-tier municipalities accomplices to the scandal by having them rubber-stamp the government’s forced farm, forest and wetland eating boundary expansions.

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President’s Report – November 18, 2023

Pedestrian in Toronto neighbourhood in the snow

The events of the past few years in Ontario reinforce the critical role of residents associations at the local level, and federations of residents associations, at the regional and provincial level, to address policy issues and advocate. The mantra “municipalities are a creature of the province” is regularly demonstrated in decisions, and legislation introduced and passed by the provincial government, some positive, but many with long term negative implications for such areas as greenbelt protection, cultural heritage, urban sprawl, and the climate crisis. Of course we are now seeing reversal of some of these changes, but many more remain. And changes are ongoing, that need to be analysed and understood.

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