PROTECTION ACT, 2004 /
LOI DE 2004 SUR LA PROTECTION
DE LA CEINTURE DE VERDURE
moved third reading of the following bill:
Bill 27, An
Act to establish a greenbelt study area and to amend the Oak Ridges
Moraine Conservation Act, 2001 / Projet de loi 27, Loi établissant
une zone d'étude de la ceinture de verdure et modifiant
la Loi de 2001 sur la conservation de la moraine d'Oak Ridges.
Speaker (Mr Bruce Crozier): Mr Gerretsen?
Hon John Gerretsen
(Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, minister responsible
for seniors): I am very pleased today to commence, and I guess
finalize today as well, the third reading of this very significant
bill. Perhaps to give the people who may be watching, and certainly
those of us here today, a better understanding as to what this
is all about, I will commence by reading the preamble of the bill,
which I think sets out the purpose of the act and what the government
is trying to accomplish here. It states:
government of Ontario recognizes that in order to protect environmentally
sensitive land and farmland and contain urban sprawl, there is
an immediate need to study an area in the part of Ontario known
as the Golden Horseshoe.
government recognizes that clear limits must be set on development
in order to protect this valuable resource as a greenbelt for
the long term.
government recognizes that good planning for environmental and
agricultural protection and sustainable development will result
in economic benefits to the residents of the Golden Horseshoe
government recognizes the environmental and agricultural significance
of this area and its importance as a source of food, water, natural
heritage systems, green space and recreation, resulting in an
enhanced quality of life.
government recognizes that it is important to continue to protect
the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges moraine and to protect
a broader greenbelt area."
the government wishes to enact a bill that we know as Bill 27,
An Act to establish a greenbelt study area and to amend the Oak
Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001.
the 40 minutes or so that we have left, I will be sharing my time
with my parliamentary assistant, Maria Van Bommel, the member
from Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, who has shepherded this bill through
committee and who has attended the various public meetings that
have been held by the legislative committee and some of the public
meetings that we've held on the greenbelt as well.
sprawl, encouraging growth management and creating a permanent
greenbelt, our government will enhance our quality of life. The
lands on the outer ridge of the developed areas of the Golden
Horseshoe are the most threatened in Ontario today. This proposed
Greenbelt Protection Act, 2004, is a significant step in the right
direction and is real, positive change. This act would provide
for a time out for the discussion of important issues and factors
that must be taken into account when proposing greenbelt protection.
Some of the
most pressing issues concern agriculture in the Golden Horseshoe.
We need to ensure that truly key rural and agricultural lands
are protected. We need the help of our farmers, because, after
all, when farmers are supported and farm operations remain viable,
farmland is protected. That's what Ontarians want and it is what
farmers have always wanted. But once farmland is lost to urban
development, it is gone for good.
Greenbelt Protection Act has achieved so much in so little time.
Why is that? It is the way this government does business. It's
because this government talks, discusses, consults, listens and
acts. Ontarians are smart and they know what's important in their
lives. They have much to say and much to contribute in the process
of government. We've had the privilege to listen to Ontarians
in the course of the legislative processes of the proposed act.
The public have come to our standing committee to offer their
concerns, ideas and support, and they have gone out to the meetings
of the Greenbelt Task Force around the Golden Horseshoe.
I must say
that the Greenbelt Task Force, which has been chaired by Mayor
Robert MacIsaac of Burlington, with 12 other individuals from
a variety of different backgrounds -- agriculture, the development
industry, housing, the building industry, the aggregate community,
planning and the environmental community -- have had meetings
on almost a weekly basis to develop the criteria that are necessary
to actually put this greenbelt protection area in place.
As well, the
standing committee on general government sat to discuss this proposed
act with Ontarians for four days in four different localities
in the Golden Horseshoe area. The committee heard from a number
of stakeholders representing municipalities, the farming community,
the environment, the aggregate industry and home builders. The
committee continued its work, spending another three days going
through clause-by-clause of this bill right here at Queen's Park
to ensure that we got it right.
We have heard
what the public and our stakeholders had to say and we have proposed
amendments to the bill in response to that. Some of these amendments
have expanded the definition of urban settlement areas to better
reflect the various local circumstances in municipalities around
the Golden Horseshoe. Now, for example, urban settlement areas
in all official plans will be included. This will eliminate the
potential for confusion over what type of official plan is affected.
In addition, development in the late stages of approval at the
municipal level would be allowed to continue through the normal
municipal planning processes. For example, developments with draft
approval could proceed to final approval without delay.
Bill 27 will
now clear up confusion as to what are considered urban and rural
uses of lands. Aggregates, forestry and conservation uses are
now clearly identified as rural uses in the proposed bill. These
uses will be discussed further as we proceed with planning for
an approach to permanent greenbelt protection that will come out
of this act.
to the concerns of the environment, we have added additional protection
to the Niagara Escarpment in areas slated for greenbelt protection.
New urban expansions on the escarpment will be prohibited. In
addition, the government will have the power to stay hearings
on such matters if necessary.
We heard from
members of the opposition parties making motions for changes as
well. Members of the official opposition, for example, would have
liked landowners to be compensated for loss of profits they may
have seen if their land was available for development. Mr Speaker,
we cannot compensate people for speculating on what lands might
have been developed. Agricultural land will retain its value as
agricultural land and can be sold as such and used as such. The
opposition should understand that these exact same provisions,
such as compensation not being offered to landowners, are included
in the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act of 2001, when the opposition
party that now complains about the lack of those provisions was
in power. They used exactly the same provisions that we have in
this act here.
On the other
hand, the third party advocated freezing sewer, water and highway
infrastructure projects in the moratorium. What has to be understood
is that this is a short-term bill. It expires on December 15 of
this year, when hopefully the permanent greenbelt protection area
will be in place, and it's certainly our aim and plan to make
sure that will happen by that date.
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
Concerns about major infrastructure projects cannot be dealt with
in this extremely limited piece of legislation, as the member
of the third party well knows, Speaker. They are, in fact, best
dealt with through our other government initiatives, such as the
growth management strategy and the GTA transportation strategy,
which are currently being worked on by the Minister of Public
Infrastructure Renewal and the Minister of Transportation. Highways
and other infrastructure projects, as we all know, are extremely
important, but they must be dealt with through other government
initiatives that are more appropriate. The growth management and
transportation strategy initiatives will ensure that these topics
are covered thoroughly, more thoroughly than could be done in
an interim piece of legislation about protecting green space.
party also advocated extending the greenbelt study area to include
Simcoe county, Kitchener-Waterloo and beyond. Simcoe county's
concerns, and planning for areas beyond the greenbelt study area,
will be dealt with through the growth management strategy, because,
were we to grow, how to service that growth is an issue in Simcoe,
and we totally realize that. Our ministry staff continues to work
with officials in Simcoe to determine how to manage growth and
protect the environment.
Greenbelt Protection Act, 2004, is about fulfilling our promise,
as contained in our election material for the last election, to
protect green space. In our platform, we said that we will link
the Oak Ridges moraine to the Niagara Escarpment and will protect
the Niagara tender fruit and grape lands, and we are taking steps
to do that with this bill.
As we move
forward, however, using the time out this bill affords us, we
must gather information about one of the more complex issues facing
us, and that is how to protect farmland in the Golden Horseshoe.
Permanent greenbelt protection would extend to include the farmland
that feeds us. In central Ontario, farmland makes up almost 45%
of the area's 9.2 million acres. Some of the best, most productive
agricultural lands lie within the Golden Horseshoe. Prime agricultural
areas are therefore located where development pressures are the
greatest. A myriad of urban uses have consumed some of Ontario's
best prime agricultural land, and some members of the official
opposition ask that key agricultural lands, where development
pressures exist, be exempted from our moratorium. They asked that
municipalities, where growth management studies have been initiated,
be allowed to take steps to allow development on that land. We
are doing the right thing by taking a time out now to study how
agricultural lands will be protected for the long run. Ontario's
agricultural land is some of the best farmland in North America.
We cannot afford to pave it over with asphalt and concrete.
creates jobs, generates revenue and benefits the environment.
It employs more than 600,000 people, directly or indirectly, in
Ontario alone. It removes carbon dioxide from the air and provides
linkages that wildlife species need to survive in urbanizing areas.
It provides sources of fresh produce for Ontarians and it helps
to buffer natural green space from urban areas.
of food security and the benefits of supplying food to an increasing
population should never be underestimated. This point was made
by a member of the public at the Greenbelt Task Force meeting
in Burlington just this last Wednesday night.
Some of the
best agricultural land in the Golden Horseshoe is in the Niagara
area. The Niagara area's good tender fruit and good grape lands
have long been regarded as a nationally unique agricultural resource.
Half of Niagara's land base is farmed. But economic development
activities have brought prosperity to the region as well, and
these activities have also brought non-farm development and urbanization
pressures. This land, and other key agricultural lands in the
Golden Horseshoe, simply must be protected.
Only 5% of
Canada's total land base is classified as prime agricultural land,
and more than 50% of the best soil in Canada is in Ontario. These
lands are a finite resource. Once lost through conversion to non-farm
uses, they can never be replaced. Long-term viability requires
careful management and protection from other land uses.
has many options available to protect farmland. The provincial
policy statement under the Planning Act outlines the province's
policy and gives direction on the protection of agricultural resources
of the province, for example. Other existing pieces of legislation
contribute to the protection of farmlands and farm uses. The Farming
and Food Production Protection Act, 1998, and the Nutrient Management
Act are but two, to cite some examples.
But as with
much of the legislation designed to protect our environment, these
exist in isolation. Farmers understand that examining single issues
in isolation is no way to understand the challenges of farming.
Farmers have used the voices this government gave them over the
course of our discussions on greenbelt protection. They have told
us they need something more. They told us at the standing committee
meetings and at the meetings of the Greenbelt Task Force that
agriculture is suffering. More and more farm operations are losing
their viability. The costs of running farm operations are far
outpacing revenues. This, as farmers are well aware, is linked
not to one single issue, but to a number of issues. They range
from BSE, or mad cow disease, to drought, to NAFTA and the World
do have concerns about permanent greenbelt protection. We knew
that they would. That is why we have two members of our agricultural
community, including a representative from the Ontario Federation
of Agriculture, sitting on the Greenbelt Task Force. It is why
this government, under the leadership of the Minister of Agriculture,
Steve Peters, has struck an agricultural advisory team, on the
recommendation of the task force. This team will look at these
issues and issues of farm viability that affect farmers across
the province. As a matter of fact, former federal Minister of
Agriculture, Lyle Vanclief, and Bob Bedggood, past president of
the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, have agreed to provide
the government with advice as the government develops its growth
The team will
comment on issues that affect agriculture, such as the identification
of prime agricultural land and land use planning policies. They
will also suggest strategies to strengthen agriculture in protected
areas. The team will ensure that Ontario's growth management strategy
addresses the concerns of agricultural stakeholders and will help
to ensure the agricultural community's continued strength.
land in the Golden Horseshoe is at a crossroads. It is valuable
for the fresh quality food it produces, but farmland has become
a valuable commodity in the Golden Horseshoe due to the population
growth. People are moving here and, if and when they come, where
will they live? If we continue to build and develop as we have
for the last decade, they will live on our farmland in sprawl.
Greenbelt Protection Act will give us the time to develop an approach
for protection of the green space and the time to identify prime
agricultural land for protection, because protecting hundreds
of thousands of acres of environmentally sensitive land and farmland
within the Golden Horseshoe will enhance our quality of life.
That's real, positive change.
great pleasure that I now turn the floor over, as I mentioned
before, to my parliamentary assistant -- oh, you're giving me
the sign that we'll go in rotation. She will be speaking later
on this bill as well, Speaker. Thank you very much for your attention.
Speaker: Yes, it's whoever stands up.
Churley (Toronto-Danforth): I thought we had made an agreement
that each party would use up its time in terms of people's plans
to be here or not. Is your parliamentary assistant here?
Speaker: All the member for Toronto-Danforth has to do is sit
down. The member for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.
Van Bommel (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex): I am proud to speak today
in support of Bill 27, the proposed Greenbelt Protection Act,
2004, as an important piece of legislation. The reason is clear:
We know that protecting green space will improve the quality of
life for the people who choose to live in the Golden Horseshoe.
Protecting green space is one part of protecting the health of
the land we live on. The health of this land affects the water
we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe. Protecting green
space means a high quality of life. But this protection is only
a part of the equation. Quality of life also depends on things
like encouraging good development and investing our infrastructure
We are taking
steps, through a number of growth management initiatives, to look
at the big picture. Water source protection is a key initiative
that will help ensure a supply of clean water for people in the
Golden Horseshoe and across the entire province of Ontario. A
GTA transportation strategy will help free the Golden Horseshoe
from paralyzing gridlock, and it will free commuters and those
who drive for a living from traffic jams that take away time from
family and add needlessly to environmental pollution. The waste
management plan will help to protect the environment by encouraging
practices and setting standards for the diversion of waste from
is working on further defining and protecting natural heritage
systems across the province. This includes creating more parks
and public open spaces through a number of different ways. Work
has begun to support agriculture and agri-food industry that will
protect our high quality of food supply and enshrine the wise
use of prime agricultural lands in the GTA.
But the initiative
that is most complementary to greenbelt protection is this government's
growth management plan, now in development. This government understands.
We get it. The establishment of a permanently protected greenbelt
in the Golden Horseshoe will tell us where we cannot grow, and
the growth management plan will tell us where we can grow. We
must be ready to grow, because we are expecting another 3.5 million
people to be living in the Golden Horseshoe by the year 2031.
The way we plan for that growth now is key. It is key to the quality
of life in the Golden Horseshoe for us now and for future generations.
We need a
time out for discussion. That is why we need the proposed Greenbelt
Protection Act, 2004. We need the time out that this legislation
provides so that we can provide the proper consultation and discussion
act would prevent land that is now designated for rural uses from
being redesignated to urban uses. Urban uses, without good planning,
can mean sprawl. The proposed Greenbelt Protection Act of 2004
would maintain the status quo to give us time to plan properly.
out is crucial because lands on the outer edges of the Golden
Horseshoe are some of the most threatened in our province today,
and we need the time to consider the many elements of growth,
particularly in the Golden Horseshoe. These are things that this
government has already identified through the many initiatives
that I have outlined.
members -- my friends and colleagues -- are not the only group
of dedicated Ontarians that recognizes the complexity of the job
we have before us. The Greenbelt Task Force was struck by this
government in February to consult with stakeholders and the public
on greenbelt protection in the Golden Horseshoe. The task force
consulted for over a month in May and June.
out to talk to the people of this province, however, this task
force put their own thoughts and ideas on paper. These dedicated
and knowledgeable individuals understand, as the government understands,
that many elements of growth in the Golden Horseshoe are interrelated
that there are many issues to discuss. The government is taking
steps to address issues where there is more pressing need, but
the task force has helped us by bringing issues and items together
in the context of protecting green space in the in the Golden
Horseshoe. Their discussion paper has given us and the people
of Ontario a head start on what we must think about and what we
Horseshoe task force discussion paper outlines what the task force
calls the "layers of the greenbelt." These layers, or
broad topics, that the task force has identified as particularly
important for consideration made up the framework for that consultation.
government will await the task force's final recommendations this
summer, I want to take a moment to discuss what the task force
calls the "layers of a greenbelt."
layer is environmental protection. The task force has discussed
approaches to environmental protection that include the identification
of a natural heritage system in the Golden Horseshoe, including
major natural features and functions, such as the Oak Ridges moraine
and the Niagara Escarpment. They also include the consideration
of regional features and functions and the identification of public
parks, open spaces, waterway links and the connections between
those features and functions; and, finally, the identification
of sensitive areas and less sensitive areas within the greenbelt.
would be key to the protection of source water in the Golden Horseshoe.
We all know how important clean water is to the quality of life
for all Ontarians. For the agricultural community, it is particularly
key to their business.
protection is the second layer that the task force has discussed
and identified. Agricultural protection would include, as they
have explained, stopping further urban expansion on tender fruit
and grape lands in Niagara and the Holland Marsh; stopping further
non-farm-related severances on agricultural land; and developing
a criteria for identifying additional viable agricultural areas
for permanent protection in a greenbelt.
in agriculture is more than just protection of farmland. This
government understands that farmers have serious concerns about
maintaining viable farm operations. We also understand that many
issues related to farm viability are outside the mandate of the
Greenbelt Task Force. Many of these agricultural issues have roots
far beyond the boundaries of our jurisdiction. Subsidies and trade
regulations are dealt with at national and international levels.
But farmers deserve to have these issues addressed, as the task
force requested, in a more holistic manner.
has committed to this. As noted by Minister Gerretsen, we have
formed an agricultural advisory team to look at those broader
issues concerning the farm community, not only in the proposed
greenbelt area but also across all of Ontario. It will enjoy the
support of our staff of experts at the Ministry of Agriculture
and Food and my colleague Minister Peters because these issues,
and the farmers who live with them every day, deserve respect
The task force
understands that agriculture needs special attention. They know
also that those needs are interrelated with yet another layer
of discussion. That layer helps them to get their wares to market.
Transportation and infrastructure is the next layer, on which
we keenly await the task force's recommendations. The task force
suggested principles to consider in their discussion when looking
at things like highways and other infrastructure that may be required
in the greenbelt. They include special recognition, such as not
seeing the greenbelt as a land reserve for future infrastructure
needs, and recognizing that the Golden Horseshoe is the fastest-growing
region in Canada and infrastructure will be needed to support
are methods that could be used to minimize the cost of new infrastructure,
including looking first at alternatives that maximize the capacity
of our existing infrastructure. They also include minimizing social,
economic and environmental impacts, respecting natural features,
preserving open space, seeking creative approaches to design,
and controlling growth through planning tools.
While we await
the task force's recommendations, we will be working closely with
the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure
Renewal in determining an approach to the greenbelt in those areas.
Current initiatives on transportation in the GTA and growth management
will figure prominently in any proposed approach.
the gridlock, in rural areas in the Golden Horseshoe, we have
some different choices to make. The task force understands that
some of the building blocks of our cities' construction industry
and aggregates are located within the Golden Horseshoe. Over the
course of the consultation, they asked that resource extraction
be considered, provided it is done with due care and attention.
Proposed approaches include the identification of high potential
aggregate areas and their protection from incompatible land use,
and a more rigorous approach to rehabilitation of depleted sites
to uses that would support or enhance the objectives of greenbelt
that aggregate extraction licensing procedures should reflect
those approaches. We heard that during the presentations to the
standing committee. The task force recognizes that rehabilitation
of such sites can render some of them compatible with the objectives
of the greenbelt. Some examples in existence today include a restored
pit now used for grape growing and another that is now a healthy
wetlands area. These are the types of places where people want
The task force
understands that Ontarians' enjoyment of the greenbelt is another
key to its success. The task force has also discussed culture,
recreation and tourism opportunities in the greenbelt area, but
they understand that they must be compatible with other greenbelt
objectives and priorities. These include things such as the recognition
and promotion of cultural sites, districts and landscapes that
are important to community identity, history and character; a
network of protected open spaces, such as provincial and municipal
parks and conservation areas, which people can enjoy; a system
of trails on public and private lands, where expressly permitted
by the landowners; and tourism destinations that support and depend
on farms, natural areas and rural communities.
identified by the task force show us the many issues that must
be considered in determining the scope, content and implementation
of the greenbelt. So we eagerly await the task force's final recommendations.
layers have been defined more clearly, we will need to decide
on how to implement and administer the greenbelt. This approach
will be no small feat. It will need to take into account the provincial
plans that already exist in the area; namely, the parkway belt
west plan, the Oak Ridges moraine conservation plan and the Niagara
It is clear
that a permanent greenbelt is a complex task, and this is one
of a number of tasks that must be completed to achieve our growth
management strategy -- a strategy that will maintain and enhance
the quality of life in the Golden Horseshoe. The government understands
this, the task force understands this and the proposed Greenbelt
Protection Act, 2004, is what this government's plan for growth
in the Golden Horseshoe needs to be effective.
act will give us the time to develop a clear and comprehensive
plan for permanent greenbelt protection. It will give us the time
to discuss the recommendations of the task force, which they will
be delivering to us in July. Given the complex layers to consider,
the need for time is obvious. It will give us the time to determine
where the most environmentally sensitive areas are. It will give
us the time to determine where our most productive and viable
agricultural lands lie. Then we will know where we can grow.
space is lost to development and sprawl, we cannot get it back.
Ontarians want strong communities and a stronger economy. Our
goal is to determine where growth makes sense and what we need
to do to protect and ensure a quality of life that is second to
none. The proposed Greenbelt Protection Act, 2004, is the first
step this government is taking to achieve that goal -- and that's
real, positive change.
I want to
add my thanks to those of the minister to the members of the Greenbelt
Task Force and to all those who have worked and participated in
the greenbelt consultations. This not only reflects our government's
commitment to public input; it adds priceless value to the decision-making
process of this assembly.
I am proud
to be part of a government that understands the importance of
protecting a greenbelt and green space for Ontarians, because
it improves the quality of life for all of us, and a high quality
of life is what we were elected to deliver.
long years of increasing sprawl under the Tories, we are taking
decisive steps toward making real, positive change by introducing
legislation that is the first step to permanent greenbelt protection.
By containing sprawl and encouraging growth management, we will
protect our environment and enhance our quality of life. Permanent
greenbelt protection is one of the ways we can manage growth responsibly.
Managing growth is critical to guiding important and positive
development in Ontario. We have the opportunity with the proposed
greenbelt legislation to do just that.
on the outer edge of the Golden Horseshoe's developed areas are
the most threatened, as I said earlier. Current population growth
trends in the Golden Horseshoe point to strong, consistent growth.
This trend is expected to continue into the future, from 7.5 million
people in 2001 to an expected growth to 11 million people by 2031.
a place where people want to be, and we welcome growth, but population
and economic growth must be planned and managed responsibly. Growth
provides more choice about where to live and where to work. It
also generates investment, income, tax revenue for municipalities,
innovation and higher property values. Poorly planned development,
however, can result in increased air and water pollution and the
loss of green space and agricultural land. Poorly planned development
can encourage over-reliance on the private automobile, traffic
congestion and inefficient infrastructure investment. It can also
encourage sacrificing important agricultural land and Ontario's
must guide the future development of the Golden Horseshoe to ensure
it stays a healthy and prosperous region, with growth that is
managed wisely. We will not ignore this challenge. Our government
is taking the critical steps to manage that growth and development
in a responsible manner. It would be irresponsible for our government
not to give careful consideration to the potential effects of
sprawl without ensuring a plan is in place for carefully managed
growth. But there are many factors that need to be examined. These
factors are all interrelated and will require careful consideration
before we can propose an approach to permanent greenbelt protection
in the Golden Horseshoe.
greenbelt protection, we must talk about permanent environmental
protection. Ontarians understand, and we understand, that a clean
environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. Together they
mean a high quality of life for all Ontarians. We must talk about
the protection and sustainability of agricultural lands. Protecting
particularly sensitive areas, such as the Niagara tender fruit
and grape lands, and making them viable over the long term, must
be an important consideration. Many of us have specific interests
in the protection of culture, tourism and recreation opportunities
in the region. These things must also be discussed. And last,
but certainly not least, providing for infrastructure, transportation
and the future resource needs of the region must be examined.
study area is a foundation for both our provincial and national
economies. Our economy is vital not only to Ontarians, but to
Canada as a whole. We must be able to move through the Golden
Horseshoe to ensure our economy stays healthy.
It is home
to scores of significant natural heritage features such as wetlands
and kettle lakes. These features are part of the habitats of rare,
sensitive and threatened animals and plants. The government has
the means -- the Oak Ridges moraine conservation plan and the
Niagara Escarpment plan -- to protect the environment in parts
of the Golden Horseshoe. These plans are explicitly directed toward
the protection and enhancement of these significant natural features.
For example, the Oak Ridges moraine is an essential source of
Ontario's drinking water. It provides a recharge zone for groundwater
and its aquifers that provide clean drinking water for over 250,000
residents in central Ontario.
is a critical element of our government's comprehensive strategy
to protect Ontario's drinking water, and our government is moving
forward quickly to protect our sources of drinking water. But
the Golden Horseshoe needs a coordinated approach. As the land
in the Golden Horseshoe is identified as a region, any plan to
protect it should be regional in scope. But how to achieve this
is the question.
We could use
the models provided by the Oak Ridges moraine conservation plan
or the Niagara Escarpment plan. These plans are based on natural
heritage systems and compatible rural land uses. Such natural
systems can provide the framework for developing legislation that
protects and enhances the health, diversity, abundance and connectivity
of natural heritage features and functions.
A water resource
system-based framework could protect and, where necessary, improve
or restore a clean and abundant water supply, and healthy, functioning
aquifers. Environmental protection, outdoor education, recreational
opportunities, tourism benefits, public access and natural heritage
appreciation within the proposed greenbelt would all be achieved.
Greenbelt Protection Act will allow us the time we need to discuss
all those issues. It will allow us the time to seek out and provide
the balance we need. We must discuss how to manage a greenbelt
in the future, for the generations of Ontarians to come. The Greenbelt
Protection Act provides for a time out in the greenbelt area and
in the Golden Horseshoe.
The bill also
includes a moratorium. The proposed moratorium would stop new
urban development on key rural and agricultural lands within the
greenbelt study area. The moratorium is a time out that we need
We need to
talk about it. We need to go through the issues that all of us
have, not only as Ontarians but as residents of the greenbelt
area. So I am again very proud to speak in support of Bill 27,
the Greenbelt Protection Act, 2004.
I want to acknowledge the graciousness of the Conservative Party
and the Liberal Party, who agreed to change the rotation a little
bit, so I could -- we cooperate from time to time -- speak before
Mr Dave Levac
(Brant): You do.
I do, I do, from time to time.
I have a lot
to say about this bill, so I'll just get on with it. We made an
agreement some time ago that we would get this through in a certain
amount of time. We're sticking to that agreement, of course. Today
is the final day of third reading debate.
New Democrats on the committee and put forward a number of amendments
which I very much hoped would be accepted, and they weren't. I'm
sad to say that the Minister of Municipal Affairs -- sorry, I
got a note and got distracted here for a second -- said earlier
in his speech that this is an "extremely limited piece of
legislation." I wrote that down because I think that his
explanation for what he meant by "extremely limited"
legislation would be different from what I took from it. I think
what he was trying to say is that this is just one small piece
in bigger legislation that's going to come forward, bigger plans
for preserving green space.
But how I
took it fits right into the theme of what I have to say about
this legislation, and that is that it's an extremely limited piece
of legislation. It doesn't do what the minister and the parliamentary
assistant and, I'm sure, other Liberals have been told the bill
will actually do. It will not do it.
I tried to
point that out in committee. And it's not just me. The Conservatives
are opposing the bill, and they're opposing it for a whole different
set of reasons. They didn't support my amendments either, and
I understood why they didn't, because they came at it from another
perspective. The Liberals are trying to have it both ways. They're
trying to be green and say, "We are trying to conserve and
preserve, and this is a ground-breaking piece of legislation that
does that." But it doesn't.
to read some quotes from other experts, certainly people who have
more expertise than I do about the problems with this bill and
why, because the amendments were not accepted, this piece of legislation
is simply not going to work. When I first heard that there was
going to be a greenbelt -- and to viewers out there and people
who may read these remarks, I don't know if most people understand
what "greenbelt" legislation means. It sounds fairly
dry, but I would say to people that they should really take notice
and pay attention to what's going on here, because there are a
lot of pretty words said here today by the minister and Liberal
members. It sounds really good unless you look into the implications
of the omissions from this bill.
I think, made a point of singling me out -- I was the member from
the third party who was on the committee -- and almost, I think,
tried to make me look foolish by saying, "She actually proposed
that we expand the greenbelt. We can't do that." He made
it sound as though that was a foolish thing to suggest. Well,
I've got to say that when the government first introduced the
greenbelt, I was quite enthusiastic about it. You know, Mr Speaker,
that I have been known to stand up and support, even with the
previous government, the Conservatives -- it was few and far between,
but if government brings in good legislation, I will criticize
the parts of it that I think need to be, but I will also applaud
it if I think it's good legislation. I was prepared to do that
with this, but it isn't good legislation. I tried my best to fix
the holes, because it's like Swiss cheese right now, there are
so many holes in it. But it didn't happen.
I was aware
-- we were all aware -- of the government's green reputation that
it tried to build when it was in opposition, especially around
the Oak Ridges moraine. Mr Mike Colle made quite a fuss at the
time about the government's position on the Oak Ridges moraine
and fought very hard to urge and push the government to bring
in legislation on that. In the election campaign, they promised
that they would stop, halt in their tracks, the 6,000 new homes
that the previous government was going to allow. Then after the
election came one of the first, if not the first, significant
broken promises by the new Liberal government. "Oh, we looked
into it, our legal people," as though they didn't have legal
people -- how many lawyers were in that party and still are? I
don't think you're a lawyer, Mr Speaker -- thank goodness, eh?
-- but there were lawyers in that party who should have known.
I can tell
you, just as the Liberals knew there was a deficit but ignored
it during the campaign for practical reasons, they knew that there
were legal problems involved in stopping the building of those
homes on the Oak Ridges moraine, but went ahead and made the promise,
then couldn't deliver. They got into pretty deep trouble over
that. At least there was enough guilt out of that, and the desire
to show that they truly are green, that they came forward with
a plan for greenbelt legislation. But what happened is a far cry
from what we were promised.
a number of problems with the bill, which I will get into in a
few minutes, but because the minister in particular pointed out
some of the things I said about expanding it, because it's way
too small, I think I'm going to read you some quotes from experts
who came before the committee to tell us, the committee, and the
government in particular, what was wrong and what they had to
do fix the bill. And they didn't listen.
Here is a
quote, and it's a fairly lengthy one. It encapsulates fairly well
the nub of the problem with what we've referred to as leapfrog
development, which I'll go into in a few minutes. Although there
are many other problems associated with the gaps in this bill,
I think the leapfrog aspect of development is one of the biggest
problems, if not the biggest, with the bill.
Dr Rick Smith from Environmental Defence Canada had to say. First
he talked about the significance if the greenbelt is done right.
I'm going to start quoting. He says:
poorly, this greenbelt has the potential to contribute to leapfrog
development, a concept that is so well understood, it actually
has a name. Why would we repeat the problem that we know can occur
with leapfrog development? Done poorly, the greenbelt could be
carved up by roads and eaten away over time. It could be as stillborn
and unsuccessful an initiative as the ill-fated parkway belt --
a chunk of land that was supposed to be a greenbelt and regrettably
is now known as the 407. They say the definition of insanity is
repeating the same thing twice and expecting a different outcome
the second time around. We certainly don't want to repeat the
parkway belt experience, and we have some common-sense amendments
to propose to you today to help the committee make sure that this
greenbelt is done right.
Ontario Greenbelt Alliance members believe that in order to be
successful, the greenbelt must be planned according to the following
think big and not small." So it's not just me, Minister,
saying that these amendments should have been made; I'm quoting
the experts here now. "The greenbelt must link the Niagara
Escarpment, the Oak Ridges moraine and the Algonquin Park-Adirondack
state park axis" -- I'm having trouble reading here; I need
my glasses -- "as a unified natural heritage system. This
protection plan has been discussed for years by scientists. It
has come to be known as NOAH." We heard a lot about NOAH.
Those on the committee will remember this. It was completely ignored,
but we heard about it. "Connecting these four existing protected
areas will form the greenbelt's backbone and support steps to
reverse the fragmentation of natural areas, the loss of biodiversity....
The last thing Ontario needs is another isolated island of green."
He goes on
to say, finally:
good news is that Ontario doesn't have to reinvent the wheel when
it comes to planning these sorts of ambitious corridors of protected
habitats. It's being done in the Pacific northwest.... It's being
done in Florida.... There are initiatives ongoing in Ontario that
it would be a shame if this greenbelt didn't connect with. We
have hard-working groups connecting with the MNR in eastern Ontario,"
and he goes on to talk about all of these groups who are working
What Dr Smith
is saying here is that the bill needed to be amended to make the
belt bigger, the study area bigger, and to make all those connections;
otherwise, it doesn't work. What he was saying is, if it's done
poorly, which it is, then it could make things worse. And that's
what happened. That's what the bill does, in essence, because
of the potential -- not potential; they're buying up the land
in Simcoe right now. Highways are still going to be allowed to
go ahead, right in the heart of the study area, the greenbelt
area. What he is saying is that it could in fact create a worse
problem than we have now.
I am going
to read to you as well from another expert. I'm sure many people
here are familiar with Dr Mark Winfield. He is now with the Pembina
Institute. He came forward and talked at length about the problem
of not taking off the table for the time being the whole series
of 400-series highway extensions in the Golden Horseshoe region.
He talks about the implications of that and the problems with
keeping the highways until we decide what it is we want to do
in the greenbelt. I want to come back again to the leapfrogging
and what he says about that. Dr Winfield says:
development pressures are also emerging in the areas immediately
beyond the greenbelt study area to be established by Bill 27.
These potential developments highlight the possibility for leapfrog
low-density urbanization in response to the greenbelt initiative."
Listen to this quote carefully. That's why this is so important.
He says: "Such development patterns would defeat the underlying
purposes of the greenbelt initiative of containing urban sprawl
in the region."
I have just
quoted two of the experts in this area, who did an enormous amount
of work and know the history of what happens when we don't protect
the land and make it a bigger area, but there were many more who
came forward and told the government they needed to make amendments.
I based most
of my amendments on the advice we got from the experts who came
forward to tell us that this bill would not work unless it was
expanded and unless infrastructure and highways were included
in the moratorium. The only amendment the government listened
to at all, and the minister referred to it, was the Niagara Escarpment,
because it was left out. I put forward an amendment -- I've now
brought forward a private member's bill to cover it -- as well
as the government, to include the Niagara Escarpment in the protection.
But it only went half as far. Under the government's amendment,
and I don't know if the minister is aware of this but I pointed
it out in committee, it doesn't get the same protection as the
Oak Ridges moraine gets from the previous government.
actually gave that full protection. The government went halfway
there, but didn't give it -- they said they were worried about
lawsuits. That's the reason they didn't do it.
I wanted to
tell you, Minister, why it was important that you should have
instructed your members, because we know how committees work.
They all sat there, and I think some of them were sympathetic
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
Not our members.
Oh, yes. They all sat there and voted, one by one, against every
amendment I made and could not give any reasonable explanations
as to why they are opposing them.
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
That's belittling them.
Oh, the minister says they weren't told what to do. They would
have, because --
Oh, they're getting antsy back there. If they really cared about
it and if they really wanted to be able to go out and say, "We
are bringing in comprehensive legislation that is actually going
to protect green space and agricultural land," they would
have supported my amendments, the NDP amendments, or they would
have brought them forward themselves. They didn't.
about why this is important, because it is very important. In
Toronto and many other parts of Ontario it is now the first smog
day, not June 21, that marks the arrival of summer. We know that
a large part of this smog is created by congested highways, the
by-product of urban sprawl. We know that urban sprawl is gobbling
up green space in southern Ontario at an unprecedented rate.
to the Neptis Foundation, at the current rate an additional 260,000
acres of rural land will be urbanized by 2031, almost double the
size of the city of Toronto. Try to imagine that. About 92% of
the land is Ontario's best farmland. That's why this legislation
is so important, and why I'm so angry that it is so inadequate.
Sprawling patterns of growth unnecessarily destroy green space
and farmland, pollute rivers, streams and other waterways and
force us to continue to be overly dependent on motor vehicles,
which in turn fuel air pollution and global climate change. What
a vicious circle we are in here.
A few more
facts about why we need stronger legislation here: The Golden
Horseshoe area of Ontario is growing by more than 115,000 people
a year. In 15 years, it will be the largest urban region in North
America, behind only New York and Los Angeles. The greater Toronto
area has approved or developed 128,000 acres since 1989, a rate
of 9,100 acres per year. In comparison, the city of Portland,
Oregon, set an urban growth boundary in 1980 and has consumed
land at only 1,700 acres per year. So it can be done.
cars and trucks account for nearly half of personal greenhouse
gas emissions, which lead to global climate change. Vehicles in
Ontario contribute about 40% of the pollutants that cause smog.
Medical Association estimates that 1,900 people die prematurely
every year in Ontario because of air pollution. The Toronto Board
of Trade estimates that gridlock costs the greater Toronto area
$2 billion per year in truck and delivery vehicle delays. So this
isn't just about the environment and our health; it's about our
economy too. By 2031 the hours of delay on a typical weekday experienced
by auto drivers around the greater Toronto area are projected
to rise -- are you ready for this number? -- by 300%. The Toronto
and Region Conservation Authority has identified habitat loss
as the leading reason for the rapid decline of species diversity
in southern Ontario.
As I said,
when the greenbelt proposal was first announced, because of all
these issues and problems, we expressed some enthusiasm for it.
But my enthusiasm has completely waned because the bill in its
current form -- obviously the Liberals have a majority, and they're
going to pass it and pretend they're actually protecting green
space here. The Liberals are proposing a greenbelt so full of
holes that it more resembles Swiss cheese than a protected natural
purports the greenbelt act to be a cornerstone in its plan to
prevent urban sprawl from usurping the Golden Horseshoe. The act
institutes a year-long pause on urban development in the region
as the task force completes the plan that is supposed to establish
a permanent greenbelt.
to the general government committee a number of amendments that
would have rectified many of the holes and problems in the bill
so that it could actually achieve its purported purpose, but all
the Liberal members rejected them -- every single one of them.
to talk a bit about leapfrog. There are a few areas I'm going
to touch on in particular in this, although there are many problems.
As I said, the act in its current form is not only ineffectual
in stopping urban sprawl, but it actually encourages it because
it sets the stage, has set the stage already, in that this bill
is before us. Again I'll refer to leapfrog development. The greenbelt
area is too small in size. Developers can, and are, just hopping
over the area to build on the fringes rather than concentrate
construction of new units in existing settled areas. Construction
of low-density housing will continue.
an area we talk most about, have heard most about and will continue
to hear about when it comes to this leapfrog development. Because
it's not included in this greenbelt moratorium, developers are
already up there buying the land, planning to build. Another amendment
that the Liberal members of the committee did not accept -- the
minister, I think, was somewhat trying to ridicule me earlier
by saying, "She suggested that we put a moratorium on infrastructure
and highway construction during this short moratorium." He
said that's not necessary. Well, I'm saying to him and the Liberal
government, the evidence is already there. We're repeating the
same mistake over again if we allow this to happen.
the roads, you build the infrastructure and the development comes.
Once the infrastructure is there -- you've got the big pipe in
King City, which I'm going to get to in a few minutes. No matter
what happens after -- you may decide and talk about the other
processes coming later -- if you've got the big pipe, you've got
the infrastructure and you've got the highways, what do you think
is going to happen? It's going to get developed. It doesn't take
rocket science to figure that out. That's what's going to happen,
and it's happening already.
I want to
quote Jane Jacobs in her essay "The Greening of the City,"
which was published recently -- I don't know if anybody saw it
-- in the New York Times magazine about a month ago. It uses a
great vegetable simile to describe the sprawl that continues to
grow before us. She writes, "Look at them: monocultural housing
tracts, erected on ever-larger scales, like so many endless fields
of cabbage." That's Jane Jacobs -- very expressive.
I said in
committee, and I'll say again now, that this was the acid test
of the Liberal government's commitment to the greenbelt. This
bill, in its current form, does not succeed in protecting against
urban sprawl in some of Ontario's most environmentally sensitive
areas. Today is your last chance. We could have it go to committee
of the whole and expand the scope of the study area to protect
agricultural and environmentally sensitive areas.
In the committee
debate, the government members claimed that leapfrog development
in bordering areas will be addressed in a growth management initiative
being prepared by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal.
However, this separate plan, I can assure you -- and I said why
earlier -- will be of little relevance and use, as developers
are already buying up the land in the Simcoe area as we speak.
I pointed that out in the committee as well.
were echoed, as I mentioned, by Dr Mark Winfield, Dr Smith and
others. They wanted to expand it. There were 10 hot spots that
were brought forward as problematic and that should be included.
None of them was included. Every single recommendation made by
experts who came in to tell us why the bill would not work without
it was ignored.
of establishing a viable greenbelt and promoting sustainable development
in the region are also being undermined because infrastructure
expansion is not subject to this development moratorium. Infrastructure
planning needs to take its direction from the greenbelt plan,
not vice versa, if sprawl is to be contained.
is shaking his head. It's true; it's not just me saying this.
The experts will tell you that. They came to the committee and
told your members that. It's very clear; it's not like we're reinventing
the wheel here. The evidence is all there, and you're just repeating
the mistake. This is not going to work.
the Niagara Escarpment, and I just want to mention again that
I have a private member's bill before the House because my amendment
was not accepted.
Also on the
Niagara Escarpment -- I've raised this several times in the House,
and the government says they can do nothing about it: the first
year-round town since the 1970s, when Niagara Escarpment protection
was established under the then-Conservative government. Every
successive government since has built on that. But this Liberal
government is not doing anything to stop this year-round town,
Castle Glen, from being built on the Niagara Escarpment. It's
absurd. It's a beautiful area, and the minister could still step
in and declare the provincial interest and stop it. But they've
done nothing. I will continue to press to have my private member's
bill on that passed.
failure to protect environmentally sensitive areas and prime agricultural
areas from sprawl also points to the government's fleeting commitment
to establish a real, viable greenbelt and to put into practice
smart growth principles. It could have achieved its purported
purpose in my amendment to expand the study area so that it matched
the central Smart Growth area that was put in place under the
Conservative government. In its current form, it does not offer
much-needed protection to some of southern Ontario's most environmentally
sensitive areas. Development on these lands is already in the
hopper, and you are completely missing the boat here.
a couple of other areas I want to go into. The big pipe: I mentioned
it today in response to the Minister of the Environment's bragging
that she did in a press conference today on a white paper on continuing
with source water protection. I just had a couple of minutes to
respond today, but one of the things I talked to her about, Minister
and Liberal members who are here and listening attentively --
I say that sarcastically --
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
I'm listening, Marilyn.
Oh, good, some of them are listening. Late last week -- I got
their attention then.
The big pipe:
Do you know about the big pipe? It's a sewer works expansion project
that's been around for a long time, which will connect King City
to the York-Durham sewer system. It received a draft certificate
of approval from the Ministry of the Environment, from your government.
What's that got to do with the greenbelt?
It lies on class 1 agricultural land on the moraine. That's what
it has to do with the greenbelt. See, she didn't even know. That's
what it's got to do with it. It lies on class 1 agricultural land
on the moraine, at the headwaters of the Humber River.
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
It's a pipe.
Yes, and why do you think they're building the pipe? To allow
more development. They don't get it. It's scary.
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
Yes, we get it.
No, you don't. The majority of King City residents and councillors,
in opposing the big pipe, fighting against it -- they've been
fighting against it for almost a decade. Most of the present councillors
were elected on an anti-pipe platform.
This is going
to get big. This is going to get really big. It's going to become
your Oak Ridges moraine. The big pipe will flood Oak Ridges moraine
with sprawl and threaten the environmentally sensitive headwaters
of the Humber River. That's how it has something to do with source
protection, which is why I raised it today.
infrastructure and developers follow. Again, that's common knowledge.
Therefore, we know what's going to happen. All those areas where
you're going to allow infrastructure to be developed while you
work out this plan, we now know, will be developed. These residents
and councillors are very correct in their fear that this massive
sewer expansion is being constructed for the purpose of inviting
intense development into this natural heritage area.
The big pipe
breaks the principle of protecting water at its source. Despite
the minister's announcement today pertaining to source protection,
a draft certificate of approval has been granted for a project
that will impair the Humber watershed, a source of Toronto's drinking
water. Development will threaten sensitive areas and "the
`King's Crown' natural heritage system, a conservation biology
plan designed by local residents using the best available science."
You used to
go after the previous government for not paying attention to the
best available science. The best available science here is telling
you that this is going to be a problem, and you're not listening.
Federal and provincial staff scientists all agree that if the
YDSS service corridor is further extended to villages such as
King City, base flows to rivers flowing into the city of Toronto
will be further disrupted.
to quote Councillor Jane Underhill, because she deserves to be
quoted for her fight against this pipe. I'm sure you're familiar
with her; she has tirelessly fought against the extension since
the idea was first proposed, for purposes of protecting the moraine
and the environmental health of downstream populations. This is
what she says: "While it has many local dimensions, the big-pipe
fight also has regional environmental implications. Source waters
will be damaged by the big pipe; instead, source waters could
be protected through development of waste water treatment systems
that keep the water in the Humber watershed. We need to respect
source waters at source, rather than exporting them far and wide
through big-pipe systems."
Save the Oak Ridges Moraine coalition, explains this in detail.
They talk about all the problems with building this big pipe:
"Experts have confirmed that the waterworks will not beget
significant improvements to drinking water quality."
is an opportunity to stop this. Let me tell you, there's going
to be a huge public outcry and you're going to be forced to. So
you might as well just do it now. And I will be part of that fight,
I guarantee you. You will not hear the last of this one. Just
like the Tories had to eventually back down on the Oak Ridges
moraine, you're going to have to back down on this one, so why
don't you just do it now? Save us a lot of time, money and trouble.
United, a very respected body, an international coalition of Great
Lakes groups -- they're involved in trying to stop this big pipe.
They've called on Premier Dalton McGuinty to honour his government's
commitment to protect the Oak Ridges moraine by cancelling the
certificates of approval for this. Then the Minister of the Environment,
under the Ontario Water Resources Act, can intervene in the decision-making
process or overrule this decision. So I'm asking again: Just do
it. Get on with it.
Before I close,
I want to talk about some other things that are happening here.
There was a very interesting few moments in the committee hearings
where I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to this aspect
of the bill that I'm going to outline to you now -- and I'd listen
carefully to this. This is a foreshadowing of things to come,
I think I'll title it.
Rouge agricultural preserve: I assume, Minister, you're well aware
of what that is. That's the sensitive area within the belt itself
that is at threat from development in the Duffins Rouge agricultural
preserve in Pickering. Duffins Rouge is a 7,400-acre agricultural
preserve that was promised 100% protection by the former and current
Liberal provincial government. In 1999, farmers were granted agricultural
easements with the understanding that the lands would remain rural.
The city of Pickering recently commissioned a growth management
study, I understand paid for by the developers --
You admit that? That's an interesting fact -- calling for development
in the Duffins Rouge agricultural preserve. I understand that
there was a meeting last night and there's going to be a meeting
next week to decide if the growth management study is accepted.
to this agricultural preserve, in particular the possibility that
the government will lift the protection it currently receives,
was the topic of discussion at a recent edition of Studio 2 on
TVO. Susanna Kelley from TVO -- I must say, people have been paying
a whole lot of attention to this issue. I know that Ms Kelley
was, under the previous government, following very closely the
Oak Ridges moraine and other development issues, and she's continuing
her commitment to that. So you and your government are being watched
on this, Minister. I'm very pleased that there is a journalist
keeping a close eye so that these things are not going on behind
closed doors in secret. You know they shouldn't be.
She, on TVO,
recently talked a bit about what happened at committee. I was
sitting there and I was kind of confused about an amendment that
the Conservatives made. The Liberals were just, carte blanche,
turning down -- as was I -- Conservative amendments. All of a
sudden, Mr Wayne Arthurs, who's the MPP for the area --
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
You can't name a member here.
Sure I can. He's a member of the committee. He doesn't want me
to name him. Why not?
He made an
amendment to the amendment that the Tories made. I didn't catch
on for a second. I'm wondering, "What's going on here?",
but it's all straightened out now, thanks to some research.
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
Did the amendment pass?
No, it didn't pass, but listen to this. This is what was said
on TVO by Susanna Kelley. She said, "Well, there is something
called the agricultural preserve land. A lot of it is owned by
farmers, but there is a great deal of interest on the part of
some developers and builders to build there. It was -- there was
a ministerial zoning order put on it by the Conservative government
that it would be protected in perpetuity. But Mr Wayne Arthurs,
the MPP for the area, is in favour of opening up that agricultural
preserve, or parts of it, for development."
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
He has been very consistent.
Yes, he has been very consistent, and he continues to be consistent.
has been fighting for this for quite a long time." Of course,
he used to be mayor before he got elected here. The conversation
went on to say that, "While he was mayor of Pickering"
-- Ms Kelley talked about the growth management study that was
done for the city and paid for by developers and builders, and,
as she said, surprise, surprise, it recommends opening up the
agricultural preserve. Did you know that, Minister, that that's
will continue, the talks in the area, but Mr Arthurs, when he
tried to move this amendment that would exempt it in the committee
-- I was taken by surprise. I didn't quite know what he was up
to, but it turns out that he's still working --
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
Did the amendment pass?
No. He was voted down -- you're right -- by the Liberal members
on the committee. But it shows that he's still trying to do that.
went on to say in this show that she was trying to get to the
bottom of this too. She said she talked to the people in the Premier's
office about this and said, "Are you aware that Mr Arthurs
has been doing this?" Two of them said to her, "We don't
want to talk to you." One said, "Go talk to Mr Gerretsen,"
the municipal affairs minister. Another said, "Go talk to
our PR people." PR people?
says, "`I just want to know if you're aware that Mr Arthurs
is doing this.' A third one finally said to me, `Well, I'm not
surprised.' And when I said to him, `Can you give me a guarantee
that you will, as you promised in your campaign, protect this
land in perpetuity?' they said, `Well, it depends.' And I said,
`On what?' And they said, `Well, the Greenbelt Task Force recommends
or what the -- David Caplan's infrastructure initiative recommends
"I also found out that in the Greenbelt Task Force, guess
what's been sent to every member of the task force this week?"
Mr Paikin says, "Tell us." She says, "The growth
management plan done for the city of Pickering, and the developers
and builders have been showing up as well at the public consultations
This is quite
The minister is chat-chat-chatting away over there. I think he's
getting nervous because all of this has been revealed now, thanks
to the research and investigative journalism by Ms Kelley from
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I just want the member to know
that I'm not nervous and I'm listening to every word she's saying.
Speaker: That's not a point of order.
You might want to get up on this, because the other thing that
Ms Kelley pointed out -- she looked into Mr Arthurs's campaign
contributions. You know how we used to go after the Conservatives
for all the money they got from developers and then they come
in here and try to get in bed with the developers? We found out
that over a third of Mr Arthurs's campaign contributions were
from developers or builders who have an interest in developing
that preserve, including 23 contributions of $1,000 each from
numbered companies and companies related to one address at 27
Buggy Lane. Did you know about that, Minister -- Buggy Lane? Everybody
up there is familiar with that address. That's the golf course
that's owned by one of the builders.
according to Ms Kelley, was asked about this, and he said, "I
don't see a conflict of interest here." I can only imagine
that the former mayor received these big campaign donations as
the mayor was quite in favour -- the developers and the builders
did this study. We'll be watching this very closely.
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
Are you voting for this bill or not?
Well, I'm going to hold you in suspense on this because -- we'll
see; we're going to delay the vote, because I have to tell you
quite honestly that I'm having a lot of trouble supporting this
bill. I really am. The fact that a bill is coming forward that
purports to improve the situation and is actually in some ways
going to make it worse -- it's pretty hard to support.
On the other
hand, I know what the government will do if I don't: every chance,
say, "Oh, Ms Churley, the great environmentalist, didn't
support the greenbelt legislation." They're selling it out
there as though it's this great piece of environmental legislation
when in fact it isn't.
when Michael Prue in committee voted against -- here is what happened
-- the retroactivity of the cancellation of the private school
tax credit. He voted against it. You know, everybody here knows,
we are against credits, taxpayers' money going to help people
pay for private schools. We felt the money should go, and still
do, into the public school system. Michael Prue, the member for
Beaches-East York, on principle, in committee, voted against it
simply because he didn't think the retroactivity piece of it was
fair, and neither do I. But every time a member of the Liberal
Party has an opportunity to go after us -- because they are on
the defensive all the time now -- they throw out, without being
Mrs Liz Sandals
(Guelph-Wellington): Who's being defensive now?
Listen to them, Mr Speaker. They are running so scared, let me
point out that what he was really voting against was the retroactivity.
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
Are you nervous, Marilyn?
Well, I certainly don't want my own principles to be used against
it was --
You believe in dinging people retroactively. You believe, these
Liberals believe, in dinging people retroactively. That's what
they passed, that's what they have said. They certainly did. They
took some money away from people who, in good faith, paid this
money. They don't care about these people.
Listen: "Yap, yap, yap, yap."
So, in closing,
this is bad legislation. It does not achieve what it said it was
going to do. The government refused to accept the amendments and
don't even take it seriously. But they will be sorry, because
this is going to come back to haunt them. The leapfrog development,
the big pipe, the agricultural preserve, the highways, the infrastructure
that's allowed to be built: All these things are going to come
back to haunt you. You are sitting pretty today, you think it
sounds like you are doing a good thing, but just as the Oak Ridges
moraine got the previous government, this is going to get you.
Speaker: Further debate?
Mr Toby Barrett
(Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): As we know, this proposed Greenbelt
Protection Act, 2004, is obviously proposing a permanent Golden
Horseshoe greenbelt. We have been hearing during this afternoon's
debate and previous debate that this bill, Bill 27, would create
a greenbelt study area in the Golden Horseshoe area, including
Oak Ridges, the Niagara Escarpment, the Niagara tender fruit lands,
and would also establish a moratorium, temporarily preventing
new urban uses in portions of that study area.
know that this is not enough for a number of groups in the province
of Ontario, and it is seen by some, as was mentioned earlier,
to be limited.
I will make
mention of a much broader proposal by a newly formed greenbelt
alliance and Earthroots. Earthroots, along with other members
of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance -- a fairly recent amalgamation,
as I understand -- is proposing the implementation of what they
refer to as NOAH. NOAH refers to the Niagara Escarpment to the
Oak Ridges moraine north to Algonquin Park and a much broader
area also including and heading south across the border to the
Adirondack State Park heritage system.
contends that the GTA population is projected to increase to six
million people by 2021, and they feel that we must act to ensure
an environmentally and economically healthy future for this area.
Having said that, I think we should all pause in this House to
consider that figure: six million people by the year 2021; six
million people living in what I consider a relatively small area
in North America. Six million people -- from my perspective, there
is something inherently wrong with this picture. That is too many
people. However, the projections are there. This government is
taking a step to deal with what I consider quite a daunting population
figure. Earthroots uses these kinds of population projections
to underline the need to protect natural spaces by creating a
very large greenbelt area through urban planning controls. The
option they envision is that we will be facing a smoggy, traffic-congested
megalopolis, sprawling from Lake Erie in my area to Lake Ontario
to Lake Simcoe.
I also want
to mention another initiative I was involved in previously. I
wish to draw the attention of the House to the merits of a very
positive initiative that began in January 2000 with the creation
of what is known as the Great Lakes Heritage Coast. The Great
Lakes Heritage Coast was identified as a signature site by the
I know the
parliamentary assistant for MNR is present, who will be forging
ahead and perhaps carrying on the work of a former parliamentary
assistant. Not only Ted Chudleigh, but I had a great deal of involvement
with the Great Lakes Heritage Coast, a project that seemed almost,
I wouldn't say too broad, but too long in scope, stretching, as
the parliamentary assistant would know, from the Pigeon River
up on the Minnesota border, south of Thunder Bay, across the north
shore of Lake Superior, continuing down Manitoulin Island, which
was latterly added to the planning area for the coast, stretching
down Georgian Bay to the Severn River. It's a project of the Ministry
of Natural Resources, one of a number of signature sites.
I'm not arguing against that. I'm actually addressing much of
my remarks to the good work done by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Lakes Heritage Coast is one of 10 signature sites, as I recall:
the Nipigon Basin, a very broad area to the north of Thunder Bay,
and having spent time on Lake Nipigon, I consider it in a sense
one of the Great Lakes; the Kawartha Highlands, a signature site
much further to the south, and many will know of some of the recent
controversy around the Kawartha Highlands signature site; and
there is an additional signature site that was announced latterly
-- that would be St Williams crown forest, which I am very proud
to have been involved in. That actually is in my area, down on
date with respect to the heritage coast: It was launched in January
2000, MNR established a director position and four staff were
assigned to this project. Considerable work was down initially
in marketing, with brochures, computer disks, posters and pens.
There were some Group of Seven paintings that were reproduced,
as I understand, and distributed very broadly from one end to
Over the course
of that project and up to the fall of 2003, the team responsible
for this planning initiative, the heritage coast, prepared a strategy
for the protection and sustainable use of the area. It was a document
titled Setting Sail. It culminated three years of public input,
interministerial direction, and of course MNR working with the
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and certainly working with the Ministry
of Transportation -- very important with respect to signage, for
example, something that's very important when you're attempting
to pull together a project like this, but also to try to communicate
to people -- tourists, for example -- just what's going on. Setting
Sail forms a blueprint for an initiative that I feel can result
in not only a world-class tourist destination, but a natural heritage
destination. It's said the coast would rival areas such as the
Cape Breton highlands. It does really have the potential to put
Ontario on the world stage as a place to visit and to take a look
at Ontario's fresh water and, by and large, unspoiled coast. I
say that having, in my younger days, travelled in over 50 countries,
I suppose. The northern forest to me is equivalent to the Himalayas
or equivalent to what I saw in the Amazon, for example. It's something.
Many people don't get up there and we don't realize what we have
when you look at it from a global perspective.
A bit of bad
news: The document was never released. The election came along.
So we have a timing issue there. The project has not been implemented
and I look to the present parliamentary assistant, who knows the
north very well and knows this project very well, to continue
to serve as a champion for what is a very, very large planning
project, not unlike what we're debating here today.
of the greenbelt legislation, the goals of groups like Earthroots,
for example, seem laudable. I guess when you look at southern
Ontario, you've got a little different kettle of fish here compared
to the heritage coast, where much of our work involved crown land.
In the south we're dealing with private land, we're dealing with
landowners -- farmers, for example -- the owners, the stewards
of the land. Farmers, in my view -- and this government would
know this -- cannot be ignored, farmers must not be ignored. The
members of the province's Greenbelt Task Force are taking heed,
and certainly must take heed, of the voices of farmers -- voices
that were heard recently at a public meeting in St Catharines.
Most of those voices addressed the fact that the province has
imposed a development freeze on the Golden Horseshoe during the
study and throughout the various stages of this legislative process.
They are worried.
the bill's implementation will hinder their rights, limit their
rights, by freezing development on their lands, and their concern
is that there is no indication of compensation. Farmers are concerned
that the government is seen as protecting the environment. They're
concerned that it may well have forgotten about protecting farming
and protecting farmers.
are in a situation where they see their present-day opportunities
being threatened economically. I think that goes without saying,
whether it's as a result of soaring energy prices, the beef border
closure, poor growing conditions which continue yet again in much
of Ontario with what has been a cold and certainly a very wet
spring, and higher taxes. Again, this government, in a sense,
has frozen their assets without compensation. What opportunity
does that offer to farm families? The average age of a farmer
is what I consider alarmingly high. How do we encourage the next
generation to take a look at the family farm when farm debt is
growing faster than growing crops or growing livestock? The issue
in many quarters in the agricultural community is the perception
of lack of adequate government support and, worse yet, the perception
in some of the direction of this legislation, the spectre of government
intrusion. How do we save farmers?
How do we
keep them on an even keel without allowing them, with confidence,
to plan on continuing to make a living by farming and, on retirement,
to be able to have that guarantee that they can enjoy the financial
fruit of their labour?
lands are a valuable resource. They're privately owned, and the
majority of generations of families have this perception. If younger
members of the farm community see this perception under threat,
they will have less desire to take over the business when they
balance off some of the restrictions that are being discussed
in this legislation with the opportunities that they know have
to be there for them to hang on to the farm.
is not to put in place legislation that removes further opportunity
for farmers. If the government does decide to tie the hands of
farmers even further, surely there must be compensation, and regrettably
I see no sign of that in this legislation.
I wish to
quote the words of Dr Riina Bray, a physician, chair of the Ontario
College of Family Physicians. They have an environmental health
committee. She is quoted as stating, "Ensuring a well-protected
ecosystem subsequently impacts on the physical, social and psychological
well-being of our population, from the very young to the elderly,
surely, if we are to expect our farmers to sacrifice land opportunities
for these vital societal benefits, society must be expected to
shoulder some of the economic burden."
For that reason,
I join the OFA, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, requesting
-- and I think the OFA is demanding -- compensation for any loss
of farmers' equity and, with that, demanding a clear statement
from the minister, from the government, that the long-term viability
of farm operations is ensured so that future generations would
have confidence to stick with it.
It's in this
context of essentially a government-private sector partnership
that I wish to speak a minute or two and to highlight what I consider
a very ambitious, farmer-driven conservation plan. It is taking
shape in my riding, in Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant, as a pilot project.
I know it's seriously being considered in Prince Edward Island.
It originated in the province of Manitoba. The program goes by
the moniker ALUS, which stands for Alternate Land Use Services.
The ALUS program, headed up in my riding by our local Norfolk
Land Stewardship Council, not only protects and enhances natural
areas but also further encourages environmental partnership between
rural and urban, a partnership that includes all stakeholders:
government, of course; landowners -- in this case, farmers; and
behind this program holds that good stewardship of the environment
is not only a personal responsibility; it's a public value. It
is a value based on, in this case, payments to farmers for rendering
ecological services that provide environmental benefit to society
as a whole. Under this farmer-driven plan, a variety of performance
incentives or reward options, if you will, are included: property
tax credits, conservation agreements. These are all proposed to
encourage farmers to develop and maintain these ecological services
which would create markets for public resources like clean air,
clean water, wildlife habitat. This also presents an opportunity
to nurture the environmental ethic that is inherent within the
agricultural community and also to communicate the good things
that farmers are doing for the environment and our natural world
in the province of Ontario.
that this program offers is voluntary; it's participatory. It's
building on existing programs like the environmental farm plan,
but it recognizes the distinct nature, the contributions of many
other conservation initiatives on our landscape. It further recognizes
that while protecting existing ecological values of the landscape,
it's vitally important also to reward those stewards of the land.
ecological services would create markets, as I indicated, markets
for public resources; many resources that currently exist on private
land, and I think of wildlife habitats alone. Because no markets
currently exist for public resources on private lands, farmers
are essentially forced to maximize production, albeit on occasion
government-subsidized, from private resources such as livestock,
crops and the soil itself.
the Alternate Land Use Services program, farmers in rural communities
would benefit from a new source of income, obviously, and Canadians
would diminish the need for further environmental legislation,
somewhat similar to the kind we're discussing today. I've mentioned
that farmers have to be considered when it comes to government
land protection plans, and that's why I feel this ALUS program
does have potential.
As I've said,
this farmer-driven conservation concept was developed by farmers,
initially in Manitoba, promoted by grassroots rural organizations,
again in co-operation with governments, conservation groups, anyone
who is really interested in planning and attempting to enhance
a sustainable environment in our great province. The real winning
part of this concept is that it's run by those who are most affected.
the plan is administered, controlled and directed through rural
communities, through farm organizations, through institutions
used by the farming community in their home area. This is the
first time that all aspects of a major conservation program, including
the wildlife habitat component, would be administered and delivered
is not restricted to conservation cover, wetland or wildlife.
It's much broader in scope than many previous programs, the set-aside
programs that have been developed in the past. It goes further
than that. It has a goal to build on social and economic prosperity
in rural Ontario while at the same time building on a healthier
natural environment. Under these principles, it is innovative
in the way that, to date, these programs have been developed in
this province, by integrating environmental concerns -- not only
concerns, but opportunities -- into the mainstream of farm communities.
benefits, there are advantages, and I'll list a few, of the ALUS
program. It would reposition the agricultural role with respect
to the environment from a reactive position -- almost a circle-the-wagons
position in some quarters -- to something more proactive, developing
a predictable revenue stream that would serve as yet another economic
pillar for our farm communities.
ALUS is seen
as reducing the occurrence and the need for financial crisis management,
something all too common. Every several years a need arises --
certainly since I've been a member of this Legislature -- in the
province of Ontario.
ALUS is seen
as reducing government and public reliance on environmental regulations.
It's seen as increasing farmer control of the emerging environmental
agenda, as it targets private land. ALUS is seen as converting
environmental risk to a business opportunity for farmers. It's
seen as coordinating conservation initiatives at the farm gate
and as building the business infrastructure, the capability to
deliver these kinds of environmental or ecological services, on
a profitable basis.
as addressing the financial imbalance with respect to the global
marketplace. Certainly we cannot win the subsidy war in comparison
to the United States or Europe. The ALUS concept, I will point
out, has been checked out; it's fully accessible to our trading
partners, the World Trade Organization.
ALUS has potential
to provide a modicum of security for farmers who are considering
retirement or succession of the farm to the next generation. As
I mentioned earlier, it is felt there is a great deal of merit
in this program to serve as common ground between rural and urban
Ontario. Where Bill 27, as we're discussing, simply freezes development,
ALUS is a program that offers the financial incentive for people
to go out and plant trees; set aside marginal land and rather
than grow corn, allow those cattails to come up in that corner
of the field; and set aside habitat, something very important
with respect to wildlife -- all with government compensation paying,
as I've indicated, for environmental benefits that accrue to all
in Ontario, to the public at large. It's an example of what can
be done to protect the environment while ensuring that farmers
are not left behind, tied to land that may well lose its value
due to restrictive government legislation.
program, as I said, is happening right now in Norfolk county,
down in my area. A proposed pilot project is there, down in the
tobacco country, an area that needs a bit of direction from government
at this point. It certainly needs some direction from our present
to this program, 37 different organizations have contributed their
logo and 10 have shelled out $45,000 for a survey, and I'm happy
to say that MNR is continuing to fund the pilot project. I know
$20,000 was put forward by the previous government in 2003. It's
the kind of farmer-driven program that should be considered for
expansion. As we see this government ploughing ahead with restrictive
legislation that seems to penalize farmers in some quarters, I
just want to make the very important point that when government
gets involved in this kind of legislation, you have to be cognizant
of the fact that we're dealing with private land.
introduction of Bill 27, farmers have worked hard to make their
voices heard. However, we do have the perception that this is
an urban-based government that sometimes has trouble hearing the
voice of rural Ontario over the noise of the gridlock traffic
within the Golden Horseshoe area.
I have much
more that I could talk about. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture,
to name one organization, has put a great deal of thought into
this. I ask people to consider the very broad proposal put forward
Just to wrap
up, I'm calling for a much more inclusive approach. We, on behalf
of our children and grandchildren, should be very concerned at
the spectre of six million people in this part of Ontario. I'm
calling on this government to take a second look and maybe see
the bigger picture beyond the Golden Horseshoe, beyond simple
development freezes and the inherent leapfrogging that we see
occurring, and will occur. Take a second look. Take a look at
a broader, province-wide conservation and compensation program
that will not only maintain a program but would enhance Ontario's
natural legacy for centuries to come.
Mr Tim Hudak
(Erie-Lincoln): I'm pleased to rise on third reading of Bill 27.
I know my colleague from Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke also wants
First, I think
the opposition parties' point is clear. We advocate a more comprehensive
approach, as my colleague from Haldimand-Norfolk talked about,
a greater consultative approach, one that addresses the issues
as a whole in the province, as opposed to the piecemeal approach
that leaves a lot of questions unanswered that the Minister of
Municipal Affairs and Housing has brought forward. I know there
are promises of a growth management strategy from public infrastructure
renewal shortly, but I've not heard an apt explanation and a simple
explanation of why this particular area has been severed off,
leaving so many questions unanswered.
know what? The reality is that this Bill 27 is nothing but a knee-jerk
reaction to the spectacular flip-flop that Premier Dalton McGuinty
did on the Oak Ridges moraine, a flip-flop of proportions that
would make Greg Louganis proud. I think the minister probably
remembers -- he may have had nightmares for some time about it
-- that giant chipmunk that followed him around after Oak Ridges
with the "l" word that I cannot repeat in the Legislature.
Hon Mr Gerretsen:
I've got a picture with the chipmunk.
He has a picture of the chipmunk, and I remember what that picture
would have said, that "l" word that I cannot say but
that rhymes with "pants on fire." They were not happy,
the giant chipmunk and his friends, about the Premier's spectacular
flip-flop on the Oak Ridges moraine. Hence Bill 27, born in this
Legislature without great thought for the policy implications.
earlier on in his remarks said, "Well, it's a time out."
It's not a time out, sir, I say with all due respect -- a time
out perhaps in the sense that some planning amendments or some
bylaws may be frozen at the municipal level, but markets continue.
The housing market continues apace. The pressures have simply
been moved elsewhere, and we brought evidence forward at committee
and in this House about the significant spikes in land prices
that are occurring across this province of Ontario, which make
affordable housing a challenge. My colleague the member for Toronto-Danforth
talked about the leapfrog impact as well. Those pressures continue.
is no time out for farmers who face a loss of equity and significant
encumbrances to their economic viability, and no time out for
municipalities that seek to grow, that have pressures to improve
their infrastructure, the services they offer to the local taxpayers,
and the pressure that puts on their tax rates as a result. There
is no time out for that.
a second: I asked the minister today for a simple guarantee that
the concerns of farmers would be addressed at this committee when
it comes forward with its recommendations, that there would be
funds behind it, some dollars to back it up and put money where
the mouth of the committee and the minister is, and instead I
received a juvenile retort, which I think shows unfortunate disdain
for the concerns of farmers that have been brought forward in
this debate. It was, frankly, beneath the dignity of the way the
minister usually conducts himself in the Legislature.
from the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association said,
"It is not enough just to save the land; there must be compensation....
It must be remembered that farmers choose to farm, and while it
is often a lifestyle choice, they must be able to make money doing
so. If not, the banks will take over."
director of planning and development for the town of Caledon,
said that the model must acknowledge that in order to protect
farmland, you also have to assist the farmer. Opportunities for
secondary uses in agri-tourism on the farm must be provided for.
This model must provide support for the farmer as well as protection
of prime agricultural areas.
that this opposition brought forward to the committee were voted
down one by one, by my observation, in what appeared to be a whipped
vote from the government members on the committee, and farmers
and municipalities are now still without answers to their very
Ray Duc, the
chairman of the Grape Growers of Ontario, suggests that the key
to preserving the land is to preserve the growers who are already
keeping it green. He goes on to say that an injection of support
will be required from both the provincial and federal governments
-- reasonable arguments made by Ray Duc of the grape growers and
other commodity groups affected by the greenbelt legislation,
and even those outside of the greenbelt that are worried about
incursions into their areas. Yet seven months or so after this
bill was introduced, not a single answer, nor even concern or
a guarantee expressed by the minister today that the farmers'
concerns will be remedied or at least seriously addressed.
The township of Brock, during the consultation, said: "For
a municipality which has seen little sustained investment by the
development community over the past few years, the potential value
of development of these uses will be welcomed by council,"
referring to projects that are already approved or in the process
of being approved: a gravel pit, a golf course and an office facility,
just to name a few. Potentially one of those, through an amendment,
may go forward, but the other two are definitely in jeopardy.
imposition," Brock says, "of Bill 27 as it affects these
applications will result in a potential loss of investment by
the development community, loss of taxation revenue, particularly
commercial assessment, thereby assisting to relieve the residential
tax burden and loss of employment opportunities for residents,
both during construction and once completed." The township
of King furthers those arguments.
of Lincoln, Bill Hodgson, passionately asked the committee to
support farmers and municipalities that will now be constrained
from their growth, from reaching their aspirations as a community.
had some very strong comments. They have said, "The specific
fear that exists of the establishment of a firm urban boundary
is it's an arbitrary line." There's no physiographic nature.
There's no consistency in this line, other than borne out of politics
consistent with their campaign promise that they tried to get
out the door after being chased by the giant chipmunk -- but the
land areas that they have chosen are otherwise arbitrary.
municipalities are so reliant on the property tax base to raise
our revenues to fund local programs and services, we could be
faced with spiralling tax increases." Whitchurch-Stouffville
goes on to say, "If rural areas are to be forever green for
the benefit of the urban population to the south, they should
be financially rewarded by the outlying communities."
So if the
greenbelt area is to be a jewel, a treasure -- and hopefully it
will become that at the end of the day -- for the province as
a whole, not simply those who happen to live in it, part of the
cost should be born by the province as a whole to help these municipalities,
to help continue their growth, whether it's through the CRF or
other measures. Yet still no answer or even genuine concern or
a plan that have I heard brought forward from the government.
slammed the brakes on important infrastructure investments. The
mid-peninsula corridor stands out as one. The minister today in
his remarks said, "These should be better addressed under
other initiatives." They're asking us to have faith, to trust
that eventually answers will come forward.
be it from me to say, but we don't always trust what Dalton McGuinty
and his cabinet ministers have to say. I think it's a fair request
from municipalities, farmers and businesses, that these answers
should have come forward apace with this legislation, or beforehand.
The cart is so far ahead of the horse it's going to lap it.
So why did
these answers come forward at the same time? I expect that the
growth management strategy will try to address these issues at
the same time. But you have had, Minister, six or seven months
since you introduced this legislation -- and still no answers
for the farmers, municipalities, businesses, for those people
depending on the infrastructure investment. I think it's fair
that those answers come forward before you ask us to vote for
third and final reading of this bill.
I know my
colleague from Renfrew is looking forward to addressing this legislation,
but in a nutshell, I think it's irresponsible. It's irresponsible
of this government to bring this bill forward because of the harm
that it's causing without bringing forward a more comprehensive
approach that answers the questions that I have earlier addressed
for farmers, municipalities, small businesses and local taxpayers.
said, "Well, we're going to work with Simcoe to manage the
growth," in response to question period today. But if they
had addressed this in a comprehensive manner, they could address
that same question as they addressed those caught up in the greenbelt
area. At the end of the day, this is a half measure, accomplishing
little, but imposing significant hardship. It has delayed projects,
businesses, jobs and infrastructure. It's harming farmers and
causing price spikes on available land.
this is symptomatic of the leadership of Premier McGuinty: a wandering
focus, an incomplete policy vision, paleness, baldness, weak-kneed,
grasping, bumper-sticker sloganeering, rather than a well-thought-out
vision of growth management in the province of Ontario. This pallid
and incomplete growth management plan should be rejected by this
Speaker: Further debate?
Mr John Yakabuski
(Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker,
for the opportunity once again to speak to Bill 27.
Sorry about that.
One of the
problems with this bill, and it has many of them, is that again
-- and we've seen it in so many pieces of legislation that this
new government has brought in, whether it be the Oak Ridges moraine
or the Adams mine -- what we see here at work is the Big Brother
syndrome: We know better.
We saw that
in the budget, where the Premier has gotten up repeatedly and
said, "We know that some of these measures are not popular,
but we're doing the right thing. We're doing what's best for you.
We're doing what's best for the people of the province of Ontario."
One of the
problems the people have with that is that they would like to
have some input into what is best for the people of Ontario, and
Bill 27 is no exception. One of the things I'm most concerned
about -- again, I talk about the Big Brother syndrome -- is the
lack of respect for private property rights in this bill.
It would appear
that the government has a great deal of concern -- and rightfully
so. I support them on that. We do need to protect our green space
in the province of Ontario. But what they exhibit or purport to
exhibit is a great deal of concern for farmland; they show little
regard for farmers.
in a situation where you own farm property and you've decided
you're going to retain that -- you decided a couple years ago
that you're going to farm for another five years and you're within
the scope of this bill or the geographic area that it encompasses.
You decided a few years back you're going to farm for a few more
years because your children do not want to farm. They've moved
on to other careers. You've watched your neighbours sell their
land at very lucrative prices to people who are developing land
in other ways and now you're shut out because the government is
going to say, "No, you can't do that. We're going to be preserving
that land. You can't sell that. The developers can't develop it,
so you can't sell it. You can't make that capital gain on your
investment in order to support your family and have a good retirement
of the cruxes of the problems in the legislation. But again, I
say it's all about the Big Brother syndrome, Adams mine, where
they just went in and took the feet right out from the under the
legal rights of people to have any kind of redress with regard
to the government's decisions.
The big picture
is, what is the next step? That's my biggest fear. The people
in my riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke have a strong organization
of 1,700 members called the Renfrew County Private Landowners
Association. They're concerned about private property rights.
They're concerned about governments who want to come in and tell
them what to do on their property. Day in, day out, they're the
best managers of the land that exists, but the government's going
to come in and tell them how to manage their property. They resent
that because this land has been in their families for generations,
some of it the original lots that were given to their ancestors
when they came to this country. They have a great deal of pride
in the property, a great deal of pride in the land. This is where
they started. This is what they were given as their first stake,
and they consider it to be their real legacy in this country.
So when governments
start coming in and telling them how they're going to conduct
themselves on their own land, they feel very, very cheated, because
they've been the marvellous stewards of that land for decades
and centuries. Now the government says, "We know better than
you do what to do with this land."
We see it
in a number of other pieces of legislation that this government
has brought in. I look at the Minister of Natural Resources and
say, why did you not stand up and bring back that spring bear
hunt? We're already having problems as a result of that failure
to reinstitute the spring bear hunt. We're having animals being
attacked by bears. We're having conflicts between humans and bears.
I'm very hopeful that this year we don't have a bad berry crop,
because if we do, we're going to have some serious issues with
regard to bear-human conflicts.
Bill 27 is
the typical approach of this government. Right from day one on
October 2, they have taken the attitude that they've got all the
answers, and the people really don't. The people really don't
understand what's in their own best interests, so we the government
are going to make all those decisions for you.
I tell you,
that is not the right way to do it, but it permeates everything
that they do. It goes right to their budget. The Premier promised
no tax cuts. The Premier promised balanced budgets. The Premier
promised a referendum, if he was going to raise taxes, but he's
decided now that he knows better. The people don't. We're going
to go ahead without it.
Speaker: According to the motion passed earlier today, I'm to
interrupt the proceedings now. Mr Gerretsen has moved third reading
of Bill 27, An Act to establish a greenbelt study area and to
amend the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001. Is it the
pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
in favour, say "aye."
opposed will say "nay."
In my opinion,
the ayes have it. Call in the members. This will be a 30-minute
Speaker: The appropriate paper has been filed by the chief government
whip. The vote is deferred.
It being 6
of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 6:45 of the clock
adjourned at 1758.
reported in volume B.
Copyright © 2004
Hansard Reporting and Interpretation Services
Office of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.