Toronto, Ont. – This sweeping omnibus bill appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to package up the development industry’s wish list and pass it off as a necessary response to the pandemic and the economic impacts it has caused.
It will take some time to fully digest the impacts of this bill, which amends at least 20 different pieces of legislation. But at first glance, it appears to be highly problematic. Among the most worrying elements from an environmental perspective:
- The bill would make substantive changes to the Environmental Assessment Act, most significantly to move from an approach where an Environmental Assessment is always needed unless an exemption is granted, to an approach where one is only needed for designated projects.
- The enhanced powers of Minister’s Zoning Orders, the use of which has become common practice in recent months as a way for often controversial development projects to circumvent sound planning and public consultation; and the establishment of a Provincial Land and Development Facilitator, which will likely also serve to fast track development.
- The proposal that any new regulatory burdens must be offset by a reduction in other regulatory burdens is extremely problematic. It’s this view of regulation as red-tape that led to the Walkerton Tragedy 20 years ago, and could lead to the hasty removal of important regulations that protect our health and environment.
Finally, it’s extremely troubling that the changes proposed in this bill were not posted to the Environmental Registry, and the word environment isn’t even mentioned in the government’s press release, though the Act amends multiple pieces of environmental legislation including the Environmental Assessment Act.
While other countries and our federal government are talking about a “green recovery,” Ontario is reverting back to the same old short-sighted, pro-development, pro-sprawl, red-tape cutting agenda and making further cuts to environmental legislation and protection, from which our province may never recover.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, firstname.lastname@example.org,