The Ford government is taking steps to undemocratically undermine Ontario’s environmental protections.
Ministerial Zoning Orders, a little used tool allowing the government to override protective legislation in times of emergency, has been used excessively in the last two years.
One example is the case of the Lower Duffins Creek, a provincially significant wetland which, if the Ford government gets its way, will be destroyed to accommodate a warehouse and parking lot. There has been prohibition on development in this unique wetland since 1991.
Wetlands filter and clean water, mitigate flooding, create wildlife habitat and provide recreation and education. Especially important during climate change is the ability of wetlands to sequester carbon. Provincially significant wetlands have been protected for good reason. Why would the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing consider it important to create a warehouse and parking lot at the expense of clean water, flood control, carbon capture and the recreation and education needs of Ontarians?
The Toronto Region Conservation Authority presently stands in the way of the bulldozers since it has the permitting power. The omnibus Budget Bill 229 Schedule 6 aims to limit the permitting and enforcement powers of conservation authorities which are mandated with the responsibility of managing watersheds in many Ontario jurisdictions. Tucked into a budget bill, this significantly dangerous environmental change does not require public consultation. Like the ministerial zoning orders, the gutting of conservation authority jurisdiction is undemocratic and undermines the province’s ability to protect sensitive environments for the benefit of its citizens.
All Ontarians, regardless of location or political affiliation should call their MPP. In the face of climate change and its consequences, we need governments to put long term environmental health ahead of politics. Once a wetland is destroyed there is no going back.
–Elizabeth Turner, Concerned Citizens of Haliburton County.