The Toronto Star
BUSINESS, Wednesday, November 21, 2001, p. 07
Moraine law is full of flaws, critics warn
Environmental groups say bill needs more work
in proposed legislation protecting the Oak Ridges Moraine threaten
its very existence, including one allowing the government to unilaterally
revoke the law, environmental critics say.
Many of the
same environmentalists who hailed the legislation when Municipal
Affairs Minister Chris Hodgson introduced it earlier this month
are now calling for changes.
things, they want public hearings on the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation
Act and Plan, stricter provisions for protecting land from development
and gravel pits, and removal of government powers to override
the proposed law.
day of the announcement we rightly applauded the government for
taking that step ... but what we have done in the intervening
time is sift through it detail by detail and have found ... there
are these loopholes," Linda Pim, of the Federation of Ontario
Naturalists, told a Queen's Park news conference yesterday.
Matlow, of Earthroots: "The government should put the champagne
on ice for a while until the bill is improved and amended.
has found a series of loopholes and flaws in both the act and
plan that would give opportunity to further urban expansion on
to protected ecologically sensitive areas," he said.
the plan allows for more gravel pits in protected wildlife corridors.
Gillespie, a spokesperson for Hodgson, said the minister is pushing
for public hearings on the legislation, which would protect more
than 90 per cent of the moraine from development, but says that
decision will be made by a legislative committee.
said giving a cabinet minister power to revoke parts of an act
is standard practice.
is a 160-kilometre ridge of hills, lakes and headwaters running
across the top of Toronto, from the Trent River in the east to
the Niagara Escarpment in the west.
lawyer David Estrin called for the elimination of the minister's
unilateral power revoke the plan.
have a plan if it can be at the discretion of some minister in
the future to absolutely revoke it?" he asked.
he was alarmed the legislation allows the government to make ministerial
zoning orders, which would let it to override provisions in the
act and rezone property on the moraine.
the Pickering Airport was proposed back some 20-odd years ago
it was through a ministerial zoning order with which the minister
froze agricultural land and in effect booted people off their
property," he said.
There is no
such provision in the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development
Act with which the moraine legislation is often compared, Estrin
He also called
for an oversight agency to enforce provisions within the proposed
legislation, which is expected to be passed by the end of the
executive director of STORM (Save the Oak Ridges Moraine), urged
the government to commit to holding hearings on the bill, where
shortcomings can be debated. "Public hearings were recommended
unanimously by (a government-appointed) advisory panel and were
demanded at every public meeting held on the Oak Ridges Moraine,"
on the government to open a proposed developer land swap to public
scrutiny. Large developers are being compensated for land effectively
expropriated as a result of the moraine protection bill by getting
land in Pickering.
is the largest land swap in Ontario history. With no public disclosure,
no rules and no cost breakdown it sets a dangerous precedent and
opens up a Pandora's box of backroom deals," he said.