David Crombie, former Toronto Mayor and federal Cabinet Minister has split with the Ford Government over a move by the government to strip away land use powers of Ontario’s Conservation Authorities. In a letter issued yesterday Crombie resigned his post as chair of the Greenbelt Commission effective immediately. The changes in the Conservation Authorities Act were contained in an omnibus bill the government used to introduce the recent Provincial Budget. The move has brought criticism from not only Conservation authorities and their supporters, but also from the municipal councils the bill was supposedly aimed at helping with land use issues. The bill would take away the ability of CA’s to appeal zoning and development decisions to the provincial planning authority LPAT. It would also make CA’s essentially a direct report to municipal councils by removing all citizen members and having only elected municipal politicians as members. If the intent was to make it easier for local councils to enact zoning and planning measures, it appears to have backfired. Municipal councils such as Hamilton and Burlington have formally protested the changes. Mr. Crombie’s letter to Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark follows:
It is with regret that I submit my resignation, effective immediately, as Chair and Member of the Greenbelt Council.
Recent actions taken by the Government in committee hearings on Bill 229 have confirmed that we differ fundamentally on policy directions affecting the Greenbelt.
You will recall that the Council had urged your Government on previous occasions to withdraw Schedule 6 from Bill 229. This advice is grounded in the view that Ontarians can successfully realize the great values and benefits of the Greenbelt through the effectiveness of watershed planning, the strength and resilience of the Conservation Authorities and the power of public participation and open debate.
It is now clear that the Government’s direction under Schedule 6 of Bill 229 disastrously assaults all three of these primary conditions. It cuts out the heart of integrated watershed planning and management; severely cripples the Conservation Authorities in the pursuit of their historic stewardship of environmental issues, and now with the grossly expanded use of Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZO) and other procedural revisions, essential public discussion and debate will be stifled or shut down.
This is not policy and institutional reform. This is high-level bombing and needs to be resisted.