Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs) have been described as a weapon of mass destruction in the planning world.
MZOs override the processes that ensure public consultation, environmental studies, and impacts to agriculture and endangered species are considered.
Before this government, and for some reason the timing of COVID and the pandemic seems to play into this as well, these orders were used sparingly, mostly in areas without municipal organization that could do planning, such as northern Ontario.
But now, we’re seeing blatant abuses of this tool as it is used to rush past due process, facilitating sprawl and padding developer profit.
In New Tecumseth, their council voted to ask for an MZO for a 999 unit development that would be built on a floodplain, paves over farmland, and is outside of where growth was planned for, breaking their own bylaws meant to protect Beeton from flooding.
Since approving this request New Tec has received three more requests, which, frankly, was to be expected. Developers are gonna try to make as much money as easily and quickly as they can!
In Innisfil, the 150,000 person mega-development, The Orbit, has been sent to the province for a MZO. Council is defending the request by arguing that it’s only for the first stage, which would see just 20,000 residents.
The justification for this project, the one made to the public at any rate, is that it is a transit oriented development, the province’s and developer’s new favourite buzzword. 20,000 people in what is currently farm fields is not the amount of people that would justify this proposal.
(By the way, council has also argued, and this is likely a more accurate reflection of priorities here, that a MZO is necessary to help the developer secure financing for the project. Why are elected representatives acting on behalf of a developer to help them secure financing? 🧐)
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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