Former Ajax Mayor tells groups fighting the Greenbelt land swap their efforts will pay off

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Published September 11, 2023 at 9:58 am

Photo courtesy Environmental Defence

Former Ajax Mayor and long-time environmental champion Steve Parish has penned a letter to Stop Sprawl Durham and other groups fighting the removal of protection from the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve to “take a breath” and know the campaign has made “significant progress” in bringing environmental protection back to the Greenbelt.

Parish acknowledged in his letter that some people may be “feeling down” with the seeming lack of progress on the issue after “two damning reports, two resignations and Mr. X,” and with the Doug Ford government still “doubling down” that the Greenbelt land swap – a deal that benefitted a select group of developers with more than $8 billion in immediate land value increases – was the right thing to do.

“This government is hurting and they’re bleeding political support,” Parish wrote. “All the major media is all over this … and there will be more when the legislature gets back.”

Parish believes Ford is now feeling pressure from his own caucus because of the importance of keeping the ridings around the Greenbelt in Conservative hands, adding that it was “caucus unease” that forced the resignation of Housing Minister Steve Clark and his Chief of Staff, Ryan Amato.

“Hang in there. We’re going to eventually win this thing,” said Parish, the longest running Mayor in the town’s history, serving from 1995 to 2018. “Keep up the pressure.”

“We have made significant progress. And this saga still has a lot of legs.”

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