Ontario Premier Doug Ford has reversed his decision to develop parts of the Greenbelt, a protected environmental zone surrounding the Greater Toronto Area, following intense scrutiny and the subsequent resignation of two cabinet ministers. Despite initially defending his position, Ford apologized for breaking his commitment not to encroach upon the Greenbelt.
The Premier’s statement in Niagara Falls, Ont. reflected his acknowledgment of rushing into the decision and potential biases that arose from it. “We moved too quickly and we made the wrong decision,” he expressed. This acknowledgment comes in the wake of MPP Kaleed Rasheed’s resignation due to his office providing inaccurate information during an investigation concerning a Greenbelt land swap.
Kaleed’s departure was preceded by former housing minister Steve Clark’s resignation, following findings by the province’s Integrity Commissioner, J. David Wake. Wake’s investigation revealed Clark’s failure to monitor his chief of staff, which led to the biased selection of Greenbelt lands for development. This flawed process has faced sharp criticism, especially after reports from both Wake and former Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk. Lysyk’s findings asserted that the land selection process was prejudiced and primarily benefited certain developers, resulting in a massive $8.3-billion gain from the removal of these lands.
Though the government hinted at a Greenbelt review, it remained steadfast on its decision to designate 14 sites for housing projects. The initial intent behind the Greenbelt development, as per the Ford administration, was to increase housing and address the ongoing housing crisis in the region, even though this contradicted their prior promises of leaving the Greenbelt untouched.
Elevating concerns around this matter, the Ontario Provincial Police have handed the issue over to the RCMP for potential further investigation.
In another twist, the Integrity Commissioner recently published a report discussing a stag and doe party for Ford’s daughter following allegations by Global News about the involvement of developers and lobbyists in the event, with attendees asked to buy tickets and donate to the couple. Although Ford previously dismissed inquiries related to the gathering, the recent report indicates a further investigation into the incident.
Information for this story was found via the Canadian Press. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.