Dear Premier Ford and Members of Provincial Parliament,
We, the undersigned organizations, would like to thank the Government of Ontario for its decision to remove Schedule 10 from Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018. The people spoke and the government listened, and for this we are truly grateful.
Leading up to this decision, we were united with municipal councils, planners and agricultural leaders across Ontario in expressing concerns about “open-for-business” zoning by-laws potentially passed behind closed doors, without public notice, engagement or an opportunity for appeal. Independently and across sectors, we reached the same conclusion: that Schedule 10 would override critical requirements under several provincial laws and policies designed to.
address significant threats to municipal drinking water (e.g., landfills, sewage systems, and the storage or handling of fuel, fertilizers, manure, pesticides, road salt, organic solvents and other substances on lands near wells or surface water intake pipes used by municipal drinking water systems);
protect farmland, provincially significant wetlands, woodlands, valley lands and habitat of species at risk;
support active transportation, affordable housing, green infrastructure and climate resiliency;
protect key natural heritage features, key hydrologic features, natural core areas and natural linkage areas across the Oak Ridges Moraine;
protect two-million acres of natural areas and farmland across the Greenbelt;
protect fresh water and the ecological health of the Lake Simcoe watershed; and
support smart, integrated, long-term planning for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, a heavily developed region facing intense development pressures.
The government’s judicious decision to remove Schedule 10 from Bill 66 leaves these policies intact and aligns with the true interests and desires of the people of Ontario. A 2016 Nanos poll found that 90 percent of Ontarians believe the government is responsible to ensure a healthy environment for all, and 97 percent support the right to clean air and water.
The modern land-use planning and land conservation framework now in place in Ontario establishes a fair and coherent rule set and system of governance that upholds the provincial interest, with needed flexibility provided locally through municipal official plans. It was developed over the years by governments of varying political stripes. For example, early work to limit sprawl through Smart Growth, and the establishment and protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine were signature achievements of Progressive Conservative governments.
We trust that the current government will build on this legacy, for example, in the recently announced review of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, rather than turn back the clock on years of good planning, community input and strong, progressive government leadership. We hope you agree that we cannot afford to undermine laws and policies intended to protect the long-term health and resilience of our communities and to prevent sprawling and unchecked development that threatens the farmland, water resources and sensitive natural features upon which we all rely.
We thank you again for your decision and look forward to the removal of Schedule 10 from Bill 66 before it goes to final reading.
National, Provincial, and Regional Groups
Gregor Beck, Senior Conservation Advisor Bird Studies Canada
Norman Wingrove, Acting PresidentBlue Mountain Watershed Trust
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director & Counsel Canadian Environmental Law Association
Raj Gill, Great Lakes Organizer Canadian Freshwater Alliance
Derek Coronado, Coordinator Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
Yannick Beaudoin, Director General, Ontario & Northern Canada David Suzuki Foundation
Amber Ellis, Executive Director Earthroots
Paul Mero, Interim Executive Director Ecospark
Tim Gray, Executive Director Environmental Defence
Jim Robb, General Manager Friends of the Rouge Watershed
John Jackson, Chair Grand River Environmental Network
Janet McKay, Executive Director Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF)
Emery Huszka, President National Farmers Union – Ontario
Graham Saul, Executive Director Nature Canada
Bernie VanDenBelt, President Nature London
Brennain Lloyd, Project Coordinator Northwatch
Kathryn Enders, Executive Director Ontario Farmland Trust
Alison Howson, Executive Director Ontario Land Trust Alliance
Paul Ronan, Executive Director Ontario Parks Association
Linda Heron, Chair Ontario Rivers Alliance
Carolyn Young, Executive Director Organic Council of Ontario
Lino Grima, Water Campaign Co-ordinator Sierra Club Ontario
Mike Boos,Co-founder Smart Growth Waterloo
Cassie Barker, Executive Director Women’s Healthy Environments Network
Naomi Grant, Co-Chair Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury
Peggy Hutchison, Director, Grey Highlands Grey Association for Better Planning
Jack Gibbons, Chair North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance
Kevin Thomason, Secretary Sunfish Lake Association
Ontario Nature is a charity that has been protecting wild species and wild spaces through education, conservation and public engagement since 1931. We are there when nature needs us most.