During last night’s Burlington City Council Meeting, I was grateful that all of council was able to come together and vote unanimously to approve a resolution to protect our Greenbelt and clean water supply in response to the Province’s Bill 66.
The resolution is similar to ones passed at the Region of Halton and Town of Oakville recently.
If Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. 2018 – specifically Schedule 10 – passes, this legislation would allow local municipalities to — with the Minister’s consent — pass “Open for Business” zoning bylaws, which would not be bound by existing legislation (such as the Clean Water Act, 2006 or the Greenbelt Act, 2005).
Thankfully, the Province backed down on Schedule 10, but we’re not out of the woods yet. This is the second time it has talked about opening up the Greenbelt and the second time it has backed off.
That is why I felt we still needed to come together as a council, in a unified voice, to continue to be vigilant and take the position of protecting our Greenbelt. And the fact the motion I brought forward was carried unanimously – this is really an important statement to come out of this council, and I thank all the members of council for that.
We don’t need to build into our Greenbelt to be “open for business”. We have more than 500 acres of open land; we don’t need to sacrifice our agricultural economy.
Here is the full motion for the resolution on Bill 66 that was carried by council last night:
“Re: Bill 66 Update and Revisions to Resolution
Further to my memo of January 23rd, it has now been announced that the provincial government will no longer be proceeding with Schedule 10 of Bill 66. This decision is great news, and effectively removes the override that would permit municipalities to set aside a whole series of legislation including the Greenbelt Act and Clean Water Act.
This issue created a large amount of discussion throughout the province and highlights the need for our council to take a unified and formal position on protecting the Greenbelt and access to clean and safe drinking water. Therefore, I am bringing an amended resolution forward with the following underlined revisions:
WHEREAS, the Government of Ontario has introduced Bill 66, an Act to restore Ontario’s competitiveness by amending or repealing certain Acts; and
WHEREAS, Schedule 10 of the proposed legislation would have amended the Planning Act to allow municipalities to pass “open-for-business planning by-laws”; and
WHEREAS, the Bill would have allowed such by-laws to override important planning, water, agricultural and environmental protections contained in the Clean Water Act, 2006, the Greenbelt Act, 2005, the Places to Grow Act, 2005, and other provincial legislation; and
WHEREAS, no notice or public hearing would have been required prior to the passing of such a by-law nor were there to be any appeal rights thereafter; and
WHEREAS, the Greenbelt is an integral component of land use planning that complements the Growth Plan to encourage smart planning, the reduction of sprawl, protection of natural and hydrological features and agricultural lands; and
WHEREAS, Burlington’s land mass is 50% rural, and the Greenbelt protects 1.8 million acres of farmland, local food supplies, the headwaters of our rivers and important forests and wildlife habitat; and
WHEREAS, a permanent Greenbelt is an important part of the planning for sustainable communities; and
WHEREAS, Burlington presently has 509 acres (206 hectares) of vacant employment land supply within the urban boundary ready to be used for business, without the need to weaken the protections provided by the Greenbelt or effectively remove land from it; and
WHEREAS, protections like those included in the Clean Water Act are critical to the health of Burlington residents; and
WHEREAS the government has said it will now remove Section 10 from Bill 66; and
WHEREAS, nevertheless, Burlington City Council wishes to declare our commitment to protecting the Greenbelt, opposing urban boundary expansion, and protecting access to clean water;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED,
THAT Schedule 10 in Bill 66 does not represent how the City of Burlington and its residents want to do business; and
THAT the City of Burlington opposes provisions in Schedule 10 of Bill 66, that amend, repeal or override the Clean Water Act, 2006, the Greenbelt Act, 2005 and other important legislation in the public interest and applauds their removal from the Bill; and
THAT notwithstanding the announced changes to Bill 66, the City of Burlington will not exercise any powers granted to it in this or any future sections or schedules to pass such planning by-laws where they are contrary to the City’s Official Plan; and
THAT the approval of a Bill 66 by-law clearly requires that the integrity of the Greenbelt and source water protection be achieved; and
THAT this resolution be distributed to: the leaders of all parties represented in the Legislature; the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing; the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks; all Greater Golden Horseshoe municipalities, Halton MPPs, Environmental Defense, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.”