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Environmental group launches legal challenge to Hamilton boundary expansion

Ecojustice, on behalf of Environmental Defence, is taking Ontario to court over its cancellation of the urban boundary freeze that was voted by Hamilton Council in 2021. The organization  has served the Ontario government with a notice of application for a judicial review of its changes to Hamilton’s official plan.

On November 4, the province announced it was changing Hamilton’s official plan by among other changes, allowing a 2,200 hectare outward expansion of the city’s boundary.

These changes were announced while the province introduced Bill 23, which greatly reduces conservation authorities and municipalities of some of  their planning powers. Soon after, the Ontario government announced that it would also open parts of the Greenbelt.

Representing Environmental Defence, Ecojustice served a notice of application in January seeking a judicial review in Ontario’s Divisional Court, of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s changes to Hamilton’s official plan.

Laura Bowman, Ecojustice lawyer, said: “The province’s attempt to allow uncontrolled sprawl outside Hamilton’s urban boundaries forms part of a wider move to undermine environmental protections by stripping conservation authorities of their powers under Bill 23 and opening up large swathes of the Greenbelt for development. The people of Hamilton will not benefit from these changes and will pay a price in environmental degradation and high infrastructure costs while land speculators will reap a financial windfall.”

Bowman told reporters the action will take several months to work its way through the courts.

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