The government’s controversial Bill 229 passed today—a bill to approve the budget recently introduced by Finance Minister Rod Phillips, but also containing some contentious items. One was a measure that could lead to the granting of degree granting authority to Christian College, operated by ultra-conservative pastor Charles McVety, an opponent of women’s’ choice, LBGTQ rights and the author of anti Muslim statements.
The other measure that attracted fierce opposition was one that would take away many of the powers enjoyed by Conservation Authorities when it comes to blocking developments withing Conservation watersheds. The proposal led to the resignation of the Chair and several members of the Greenbelt Authority and drew criticism from many municipalities. Among those critical of the Conservation Authority Act changes were the Mayors of the four municipalities and the Chair of Halton Region. The y issued a statement that follows:
The Halton Mayors and Regional Chair stand with Conservation Halton (CH) in response to the amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act contained in Omnibus Budget Bill 229 that passed today. Three of four Halton mayors (Burlington, Milton and Oakville) sit on the CH board.
While we acknowledge and thank the government for hearing many of our concerns and making a number of positive changes to the proposed legislation, we are united in our opposition to the last-minute addition of the Ministers Zoning Order (MZO) to override the authority of Conservation Authorities on development proposals.
We are hopeful that the Minister’s assurances about the operation of the new MZO Section with the ability of CAs to attach conditions to permits, will not significantly weaken the ability of Conservation Authorities to make science-based decisions to protect public health and safety.
We continue to invite the government to consult with CAs, including ours, in the next stages of formulating regulations to implement the legislation. As the negative consequences of today’s bill are realized, we ask that the government commit to fixing them as quickly as this legislation was introduced.
Halton Regional Chair, Gary Carr Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, City of Burlington Mayor Rob Burton, Town of Oakville Mayor Gordon Krantz, Town of Milton
Mayor Rick Bonnette, Town of Halton Hills