Oshawa Council tells Queen’s Park hands off the greenbelt

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Published November 16, 2022 at 2:22 pm

greenbelt

Oshawa Council has given clear direction to the Province on their recent ‘swap’ of environmentally sensitive lands for lands in the Paris Galt Moraine – keep your hands off the greenbelt.

Oshawa Councillor Rosemary McConkey brought the motion before Council on day one of the new term – despite the absence of Oshawa lands involved in the swap – and managed to get it on the floor only after the rules were suspended by a two-thirds majority.

McConkey said Premier Doug Ford broke a promise in removing lands from the protected greenbelt – “when you make a promise you should keep it” – and pointed out that even though Oshawa wasn’t directly involved the deal “will definitely affect our headwaters” and could lead to a further loss of pristine lands in the future.

“This will be hard to undo once it has started.”

Councillor Derek Giberson said Oshawa needed to send an “immediate” and “clear” message. “Hopefully this will stoke up the courage of other councils.”

Councillor Bob Chapman agreed, saying the province “shouldn’t be encroaching on the greenbelt. It’s sacrosanct.”

Most councillors were effusive in their support for the idea of sending a message to the provincial government, though Councillor John Neal questioned why Oshawa would be going to bat for neighbouring communities of Pickering and Clarington (who are losing greenbelt lands in the deal) “when they didn’t lift a finger to help us on the homeless issue” at Durham Region Council.

There was also considerable debate over procedure and timing than even included a challenge to the chair on a ruling, with the fact the motion should go before the Development Services Committee before Council takes action. The Province, however, set a deadline of December 4 for comment.

In the end, with Mayor Dan Carter noting the Big City Mayor’s conference is asking for a deadline extension for comment, the motion was passed with an amendment that staff and the Development Services Committee would look into the issue, regardless of deadline.

Councillor Brian Nicholson called it “draconian” legislation on the part of the Ford government.

“This has been an ambush on municipalities perpetrated by the provincial government,” he said. “The Province is quite literally stomping all over municipal councils.”

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