Yesterday, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that Bill 5, the Legislation passed by Premier Doug Ford’s government to reduce the size of City Council from a planned 47 seats to 25 is the law of the land.
So What Impact Does Bill 5 Have On The Toronto Council?
Ontario PC Party Leader Doug Ford was recently caught in the headlines in Ontario’s heated election campaign after a video was released showing him discussing Ontario’s Greenbelt. Ford said that he wanted to open up large tracts of the Greenbelt to additional housing development to increase the supply of homes and reduce their sky-high prices. Ford mentioned discussing the plan with developers and that he would still keep the Greenbelt largely intact. The video sparked a heated debate and saw Ford take heavy criticism which prompted him to eventually retract his position and clarify that the Greenbelt would remain as is.
What Is The Ontario Greenbelt And Why Is It’s Significance?
The Greenbelt is an area of over 7,000 square kilometers of protected land that is essentially closed off from development and construction that surrounds the GTA. It is 11 times the size of the City of Toronto and contains woodland, agricultural space, important wetlands, and open green space. The Greenbelt was established by the present Ontario Liberal government in 2005, fulfilling a 2003 election campaign commitment. The Greenbelt was created to protect vulnerable and ecologically important spaces and to set a clear limit on the extent of urban and suburban sprawl and construction. Large construction companies and developers and their lobbyists accept the Greenbelt and it is generally seen as a popular, positive, and strategically important legislative accomplishment.
Is Protecting The Greenbelt The Reason For High Price Of Homes In The Greater Toronto Area?
The Greenbelt, in limiting construction and development, is sometimes blamed by groups and certain politicians as a factor in the high price of real estate. Tembo Financial is eager to dispel these minority concerns and to provide more objective background information:
- The legislation which created the Greenbelt was pragmatic. It set aside large tracts of land adjacent to the Greenbelt and closer to urban and suburban areas for construction.
- Experts have stressed that very small amounts of land that was set aside for development has actually been used. The Greenbelt does not need to modified or changed.
- Most developers accept these facts and do not want to antagonize environmental groups or voters by encroaching on protected spaces. Doug Ford’s proposal had little broad public support.
- Only 4% of Canadian land is arable (can be farmed). While we are the second largest country in the world, some of the best quality farmland in the country is in southern Ontario and protected by the Greenbelt.