Letter: The public deserves accountability for the Greenbelt scandel

Below is a letter, made available for publication in local outlets, addressed to local MPPs who supported this government’s land grabs in the Greenbelt.

August 29, 2023 - Simcoe County

Dear MPP Downey, MPP Dunlop and MPP Mulroney,

In December of 2022, you and your cabinet colleagues signed off on removal of 7400 acres of Greenbelt lands.

Thanks to a thorough investigation by the Auditor General the public now knows that the process that led to your approval of Greenbelt takeouts was “biased” and gave “preferential treatment” to a select few developers, some of whom also attended personal events held by their Premier’s family, as well as having been identified as friends by the Premier when asked by the Integrity Commissioner.

We also know that this land grab is likely to result in an increase in asset value for these developers of at least $8 billion.

Moreover, the report stated that environmental standards, if they stood in the way of lands being removed from the Greenbelt, were stripped out of the decision-making process.

The Auditor General also outlined that staff involved were deleting emails and using personal addresses to conduct government business. Deleting records related to government business is quite likely just as illegal now as it was during the gas plant scandal, for which a former chief of staff to the Premier was found guilty.

Now the RCMP is assessing whether it will investigate further and seek criminal charges.

As a coalition of over 45 groups from around Simcoe County, we, and we suspect the rest of your constituents, expect accountability for this betrayal of the public’s trust. Accordingly, we would like you to answer to the following:

  • Your vote to remove these lands went against public feedback submitted via the Environmental Registry, which showed overwhelming opposition to these takeouts. How do you justify this?
  • What did you know about the Greenbelt land grabs before you voted? Did you have knowledge of the process used, and/or of the landowners who would benefit?
  • Why did you support the Greenbelt land grabs when your own Housing Affordability Task Force and Regional Planning Commissioners of Ontario determined that there is more than enough land already available to accommodate future housing?
  • Now that you know the process was flawed, do you support the government’s stance to not reconsider the Greenbelt land removals – the 15th recommendation made by the Auditor General?
  • When in opposition, your party argued that cash for access events led to preferential treatment. Given the cash-for-access and preferential treatment likelihood found with the Greenbelt fiasco, and your own continued use of $1000 a ticket events, has your stance on this changed? If not, will you support legislation to end cash for access fundraising and will you commit to no longer host these types of events?


We believe the public is owed answers regarding these questions. We have already sent you an invitation to attend our Public Forum on the Greenbelt, happening September 12 at 7 pm at Grace United Church in Barrie, at which you can answer these questions.

The public has entrusted you with power to make good decisions on their behalf and we expect you to be accountable to that trust. We look forward to your response.

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Community supported, advocacy for a safe and secure future.

Governments have failed to act to protect our communities and the futures of our children and grandchildren, and they continue to treat our environment as if it’s incidental to life, rather than a foundation for it.

We need strong community organizations to fight for our future, now more than ever.

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Media Statement: Auditor General on Greenbelt Take-Outs

Local MPPs complicit in $8.3 billion dollar Greenbelt land grab.

August 9, 2023 - Simcoe County

Local MPPs complicit in $8.3 billion dollar Greenbelt land grab

Today’s Auditor General report outlined that the Greenbelt land grabs were a “biased” exercise that gave “certain developers preferential treatment”. Not only were rules changed to allow certain developer lands to be included in the exercise, but environmental oversights were removed as well to ensure the process benefited a select few without any consideration for the integrity of the Greenbelt or the lands it protects.

Local MPPs, specifically Cabinet Ministers Doug Downey, Caroline Mulroney and Jill Dunlop and the rest of the Executive Council, signed off on these Greenbelt removals and this biased exercise, which will see the value of land taken out for developers balloon by at least $8.3 billion. Why did they support these takeouts?

The Premier, along with the rest of his government, have said that this land is needed to build the houses Ontario needs for future demand. The Auditor General refuted this claim, however, confirming what SCGC, along with other environmental organizations, have long said, which is that there was already enough land within urban boundaries. So again we ask, why did our local MPPs support these takeouts.

Do these MPPs and this government take Ontarians for dupes? How can we trust them with the care of our province when they are so clearly willing to lie to the public, to make backroom deals with their rich friends, to sell out to the highest bidder regardless of whether it benefits the rest of us? Beyond the Greenbelt, we’re seeing similar decisions by this government targeting health care and education.

We also see duplicity regarding the need for new highways, such as the Bradford Bypass, for which the government has so far refused to release traffic studies, which it’s exempted from a proper environmental assessment, and which it’s routed around a golf course owned by the father of one of its MPPs.

Based on the evidence that the Auditor General revealed today, it seems clear that this government places the need to take care of their rich friends well above looking after the public’s interest, fiscal responsibility and transparent, honest decision making. This is something that all MPPs need to be accountable for, including those representing ridings in Simcoe County.

There isn’t much that makes Ontarians angrier than elected representatives using government to benefit themselves and enrich their friends. And yet here we are. While people are struggling to make ends meet, an unnecessary, thoroughly biased process aimed at enriching a few was made a top priority. This government promotes itself publicly as “for the people” while behind closed doors it’s only the well connected that get the full benefit of the government’s help and power. We need no further evidence that this government is no longer trustworthy, from the top all the way to our local MPPs.

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Highways are the gateway drug for sprawl and the Bypass is a perfect example.  Developers own over 3000 acres of land around this highway waiting for the greenlight to destroy more farmland and wetlands.

Read More »

Community supported, advocacy for a safe and secure future.

Governments have failed to act to protect our communities and the futures of our children and grandchildren, and they continue to treat our environment as if it’s incidental to life, rather than a foundation for it.

We need strong community organizations to fight for our future, now more than ever.

Please consider donating to support our work. It’s people like you who make us possible.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

We send out a once-monthly newsletter full of information on what’s happening in Simcoe County and beyond, including information on how you can take action to protect the health of your community.

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