Ontario is being rocked by a scandal which has already resulted in the resignation of the Housing Minister and allegations of shenanigans by Premier Doug Ford. It revolves around the Greenbelt and it is so messy that I willk dumb it down for both you and me.
The Greenbelt surrounds the Golden Horseshoe in Southern Ontario. The Greenbelt is an area of wetlands, farmlands and forests. Legislation was passed by the Ontario Government, in 2005, to protect this area, consisting of two million acres, from urban development. With me, so far?
In 2018, when Doug Ford was running for Premier, he promised that he would open up the Greenbelt, for housing development. The reason he would this was to reduce the cost of new homes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) the centre of the Golden Horseshoe.
In November 2022, Housing Minister Steve Clark announced that he would cut out 7,400 acres from the Greenbelt, for housing development, while adding 9,400 acres, elsewhere.
CBC reports, in the same month, that this would benefit prominent developers, who already own land, in the Greenbelt, given that land prices will skyrocket, on the 7,400 acres set aside. The CBC reports, also, that a sale had already been made, in September. Inside information perhaps? Clark claims, at the time, that he did not tip-off developers, in advance.
In January, of this year, the OPP announce that they will determine whether they will investigate the matter. Meanwhile, both Ontario’s integrity commissioner and auditor general will investigate the matter.
In February, it comes out that Doug Ford’s daughter’s $150 per ticket stag-and-doe, included developers, lobbyists and government relations firms. Furthermore, a number of individuals, who attended the susequent wedding, benefitted from the Greenbelt parcelling.
In August, the auditor general, reports that 14 of the 15 pacelled Greenbelt sites were not decided on by civil servants, but, single-handedly decided upon by the Housing Minister’s Chief of Staff. Furthermore, developers, who had access to the Chief of Staff, owned 92% of the land parcelled.
The OPP has since handed over the invesytigation to the RCMP due to conflict of interest. There are reports that an unregistered lobbyist is set to receive one million dollars if a specific patrcelled Greenbelt area is developed. This is illegal. This lobbyist, identified as Mr. X, invited the Chief of Staff to golf with him and also gave him tickets to a Toronto Raptors game.
There is more, but I think you get the picture. As mentioned, the Housing Minister, following intense pressure has resigned. What a mess. It will likely getr messier.