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Ontario blinks on Bill 66

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 2/1/2019 9:45:00 AM

Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark turned to Twitter on January 23, 2019 for an important policy announcement. Clark used the social media platform to let it be known that the government would be abandoning Schedule 10 of Bill 66, its omnibus competitiveness legislation ostensibly intended to reduce unnecessary red tape.

Schedule 10 of Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, would have allowed municipalities to pass “open-for-business” planning by-laws that would be exempt from various provisions of the Planning Act, the Clean Water Act, 2006, the Greenbelt Act, 2005 and others, all in the name of creating jobs. The Bill was widely panned, including by several of the municipalities it was ostensibly intended to help.

The Bill was posted for comment on Ontario’s Environmental Registry. In its submission, the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce (NDACT) referenced the extensive public battle waged against the massive quarry — the largest in Canada — proposed for prime farmland near the town of Melancthon in 2011. Stiff opposition eventually led to abandonment of the project, but according to NDACT’s submission, under Bill 66, “the company could have approached and received Council approval, fast tracked rezoning without notice to the public and no mechanism to appeal the decision.”

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