Memo shows Duffins Creek MZO likely illegal, Ford issues late-night order to pave over it by March 12
QUEEN’S PARK – A Ford government bill retroactively rewriting planning laws is a dangerous move that will give unchecked power to their developer friends and donors to pave over precious wetlands, protected areas and woodlands, says the NDP. An internal government document obtained by the NDP proves the Ford government is making the law change because its lawyers say Ford’s unilateral decision to pave over the wetlands at Duffins Creek is illegal, and the courts could stop it.
“The Ford government is bent on the destruction of greenspace and wetlands to make a smoother path for developers,” said the local NDP MPP Jennifer French (Oshawa). “They are re-writing the rules to protect themselves from lawsuits, and hand more unchecked power to their greedy developer friends and PC party donors to destroy the environment and muzzle every effort by local communities to stop them.”
Schedule 3 was inserted into omnibus Bill 257 by the Ford government to allow Minister Steve Clark to retroactively ignore the provincial policy statement when making Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs). It will prevent local communities from objecting to unlawful MZOs including the Ford government’s destruction of the precious Duffins Creek wetlands in Pickering. A Ford government memo, obtained by the NDP, reveals that the legal change is being made – and retroactively – because there is a “high risk” that the government has not fulfilled its constitutional consultation obligations in the Duffins Creek case, including the duty to consult Indigenous communities.
Then, quietly on Thursday night, the Ford government ordered the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to issue a permit that would authorize the developer, Triple Group of Companies, to destroy Duffins Creek wetland by March 12. The owners of this development company have made several political donations to the PC Party of Ontario, Premier Doug Ford, and Pickering-Uxbridge MPP Peter Bethlenfalvy.
“This is the third time the Ford government has re-written the rules to force the destruction of Duffins Creek,” said NDP Environment critic Sandy Shaw. “They want the power to sell off any part of our province to Ford’s insiders and donors. This government is not just ignoring the climate crisis but actively making it worse by sacrificing our precious wetlands, farmlands, and greenspaces.”
NDP Municipal Affairs critic Jeff Burch said the NDP is demanding that Schedule 3 be removed from the bill.
“Doug Ford snuck an anti-environment, anti-municipality clause into an unrelated bill. We want it out. The Ford government must be stopped from bulldozing over our environment, ignoring their constitutional obligations, steamrolling over the will of municipalities and First Nations,” said Burch.
In December, Burch revealed an analysis by the NDP that showed at least 19 of 38 Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) signed by the Ford government benefit PC Party insiders and big donors.