Premier Doug Ford announced that he will keep his original promise to not alter Ontario’s Greenbelt.
By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com; Image by Natasha G from Pixabay
On September 21, 2023, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that he was going to keep the promise he made regarding the Greenbelt lands.
"I made a promise to you that I wouldn't touch the Greenbelt. I broke that promise. And for that, I'm very, very sorry," Ford said at the Thursday afternoon news conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
He continued: "It was a mistake to open the Greenbelt. It was a mistake to establish a process that moved too fast. This process… it left too much room for some people to benefit over others. It caused people to question our motives. As a first step to earning back your trust, I'll be reversing the changes we made and won't make any changes to the Greenbelt in the future."
Ford said that he decided to reverse his plans to turn the Greenbelt lands into property for much-needed housing after meeting with his caucus and cabinet. His ministers relayed to him that their constituents were not pleased with Ford’s plans for the Greenbelt.
Ford said, "I want the people of Ontario to know that I'm listening.”
Created in 2005, the Greenbelt was meant to protect agricultural and environmentally sensitive lands from development.
Despite past promises to not touch the Greenbelt, in 2022, Premier Ford and his government took 7,400 acres of land spread out from within the zone with the plan to build 50,000 homes. He said at the time that it would combat the issue of a lack of housing.
However, per the Ontario auditor general and integrity commissioner, it was found that the process to acquire the lands was not only rushed but tended to favour a motley crew of land developers—it is alleged that many of them had a personal tie to the Premier.
All in all, the fallout from the Greenbelt land grab has led to the resignations of Ontario Ministry of Housing Minister Steve Clark, Ryan Amatao, his Chief of Staff, and MPP Kaleed Rasheed, who continues to represent Mississauga East—Cooksville.
But Ford still sticks to his call to create more housing. "We're going to focus on transit-oriented communities; we're going to focus on modular homes that will be starter homes, that will be affordable and attainable, and we're going to make sure we hit our targets."