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Statement on the Pickering City Council vote to rescind its request for a Minister’s Zoning Order allowing destruction of a portion of the Lower Duffins Creek wetland

Statement by Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature

Lower Duffins Creek Provincially Significant Wetlands © Philip Jessup

Toronto, Ontario, March 23, 2021 – Last night, the Pickering City Council voted 7-0 to ask Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark to remove the western portion of the Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) that encompasses most of the provincially significant Lower Duffins Creek wetland that was threatened by development (approximately 50 acres). The eastern portion of the wetland, while within the MZO area, was never authorized for development, though it remains buffered by inadequate set-backs for development that still must be addressed if the MZO is modified.

This vote is good news. It reflects the results of a concerted effort by Pickering residents and citizens across Ontario to demand that this wetland be protected from a planned warehouse development.

Minister Clark has stated, in a letter to Pickering Mayor Ryan, that he is open to modifying the MZO to protect these rare and important wetlands. He has also indicated in a letter to Ajax Mayor Collier an interest in adding private lands to the Urban River Valley portion of the Greenbelt that encompasses the public lands along Duffins Creek. Based on the Pickering Council vote and strong public consensus, it is important that Minister Clark immediately either rescind the entire MZO or, at a minimum, modify it to remove the western portion of wetlands and restore the setback requirements for the development planned adjacent to the eastern portion of the wetlands. He should also add these lands to the Greenbelt as part of the current expansion process.

Last night’s vote also reflects the public’s rejection of the government’s wider pro-sprawl agenda. We hope that what is happening here at Lower Duffins Creek will lead the government to rethink its reckless overuse of MZOs to approve sprawl, its undermining of Conservation Authorities, its proposed exemption of MZOs from the Provincial Policy Statement, its planned Highway 413 and Bradford Bypass through the Greenbelt, and its push to make municipalities lock in 30 more years of car-dependent sprawl, including the destruction of large swathes of rural land, by July, 2022.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

About ONTARIO NATURE: (ontarionature.org) Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. A charitable organization, it represents more than 30,000 members and supporters, and more than 150 member groups across Ontario

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