Ford's Housing Plan
Toronto city councilors call the province's bill a “step backward” and “disastrously bad environmentally.”
Ontario introduced legislation on Tuesday to speed up home construction across the province.
Ontario's conservation authorities are working are concerned that their involvement will be reduced in how and where homes are built in the province.
Conservation Ontario, which represents all 36 conservation authorities, says Premier Doug Ford's new bill to speed up housing construction could have unintended consequences and hopes the government is willing to change it. /p>
Angela Coleman, chief executive of the group, says conservation authorities act as an important control in the development process. Currently, they protect watersheds and green spaces. The proposed changes to the law would give them far less power over where residential construction can proceed.
The surveillance powers now given to these groups stem from work done after Hurricane Hazel killed 81 Ontario residents in 1954, she said.
If we don't think about the past, we are doomed to repeat it, says Ms. Coleman.
Hurricane Hazel swept away entire neighborhoods of Toronto, killing dozens in 1954.
We came to take it for granted that we had good guarantees for development. Several of these elements are threatened in these proposals as they currently stand.
On Tuesday, Doug Ford announced a radical new plan to get housing built across Ontario. It has set ambitious targets for municipalities to ensure the province meets its overall goal of building 1.5 million new homes in 10 years.
The project Act amends the powers of conservation authorities to restrict construction. According to the government, the bill would mean that groups will no longer need to consider factors such as pollution or land conservation when approving building permits.
It's a system we had in place with controls that matter to landlords, continues Angela Coleman.
There is flooding in Ontario, but the amount of flooding and the damage caused by that flooding has been significantly reduced thanks to the work of conservation authorities.
Ontario Natural Resources Minister Graydon Smith says the purpose of the legislation is not to take powers away from conservation authorities, but to streamline their functions. warrants since they all work differently.
Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry of Ontario, Graydon Smith
This is very confusing for the development community, which is facing challenges, he explains.
So we want to streamline again and focus and make sure that #x27;there is a cohesive set of policies and guidance that conservation authorities can focus on.
Minister Smith brushes aside concerns about weakening authorities preservation.
They will continue to play the role for which they were born, namely to protect people and property from floodplains which we know present natural risks, he assures.
Paula Fletcher, a city councilor who also sits on the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, argues, however, that the bill would remove much of the important work that groups do to protect the environment.
When you take away the authority of the conservation authority, which makes sure developers don't risk floodplains, or build on floodplains or on sensitive wetlands, it will have an immense impact downstream, she stresses.
It's a step backwards.
Toronto City Councilor-elect Dianne Saxe, meanwhile, claims the bill will undermine environmental protections.
For Dianne Saxe, the provincial legislation is “demolishing a wide range of environmental protections that we desperately need”.
It's disastrously bad environmentally, like almost everything else we've seen from the Ford government, she protests.
It only tears down a wide range of environmental protections that we desperately need. It's a frontal attack on conservation authorities, protected lands and wetlands which are essential to protect us from flooding.
Ms Saxe, who is the ;former environmental commissioner of Ontario, says Ontario is also ignoring Toronto's climate change goals and its environmental standards for new buildings.
It takes away the power to control the site plan and exterior design of buildings, which will likely destroy Toronto's green standards, she warns.
It makes real estate developers a lot more money and it's going to make the city a lot worse for everyone.
With information from CBC