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Ford government to reverse controversial urban boundary expansions

The Ontario government says it will reverse controversial expansions it made to the urban boundaries of some municipalities as part of its plan to build more homes.

'Too much involvement from the minister's office' in decisions, Paul Calandra says

Paul Calandra, Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing prepares to take questions from journalists after tabling a bill to return parcels of land to Greenbelt, at Queen's Park in Toronto on Monday, October 16, 2023.

The Ontario government says it will reverse controversial expansions it made to the urban boundaries of some municipalities as part of its plan to build more homes.

Housing Minister Paul Calandra said Monday he would soon introduce legislation that will wind back provincial changes to the "official plans" of the following municipalities and regional municipalities:

  • Barrie
  • Belleville
  • Guelph
  • Hamilton
  • Ottawa
  • City of Peterborough
  • Halton Region
  • Niagara Region
  • Peel Region
  • Waterloo Region
  • York Region
  • Wellington County

Calandra said he has been reviewing past decisions of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to ensure they were made in a "manner that maintains and reinforces public trust."

He said "it is clear" the changes made to urban boundaries "failed to meet that test." Calandra added there was "too much involvement from the minister's office, too much involvement from individuals in the minister's office" in those decisions.

Some municipalities, including Hamilton, have said the boundary expansions were not needed to build housing. Calandra said the legislation will roll back the plans, so that only those plans submitted by the municipalities themselves before provincial changes were imposed remain.

Municipalities have 45 days to request any revisions to their original submissions. Calandra said the province will cover costs incurred by municipalities on work done in relation to the boundary expansions.

WATCH | Calandra explains decision to roll back boundary changes:

'Too much involvement' from former Ontario housing minister’s office in boundary changes, Calandra says

36 minutes ago

Duration 1:13

Featured VideoIn November 2022, Premier Doug Ford's government ordered the expansion of some cities’ municipal boundaries, instantly turning certain parcels of agricultural land from rural to urban. Housing Minister Paul Calandra now says the government will reverse those expansions after "too much involvement" from then-Housing Minister Steve Clark’s office.

MPP Steve Clark was housing minister at the time the changes were introduced. He resigned from that post in the wake of two damning reports about his involvement in removing 15 parcels of land from the Greenbelt for development of 50,000 homes.

Earlier this month, Calandra introduced legislation to return those lands to the Greenbelt while also insulating the government from any legal action from developers affected by the move. Calandra said Monday that the pending legislation to reverse boundary changes would similarly include provisions to protect the government from legal consequences.

"This really is a reset for me as a minister to work with my municipal partners so that we can remain focused on working together," Calandra said.

The RCMP has launched a criminal investigation into the Greenbelt land swaps.

Calandra also said he has nearly completed an ongoing review of Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs) approved under Clark's tenure. MZOs effectively override local planning and bylaws, and Clark issued dozens of them during his time as minister. Ontario's auditor general is currently investigating the ministry's process for selecting and approving MZOs.

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser was incredulous about Calandra's comments that Clark's office was too involved in the changes to municipalities' urban boundaries.

"There is no way on God's green Earth that the premier's office didn't know about these urban boundary changes, didn't know about MZOs, didn't know about the Greenbelt," he said.

With files from The Canadian Press

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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