Food for thought

 In Opinion

Doug Ford did an about face this week after getting what we can only assume was some pretty clear feedback on the issue of the Greenbelt. 

The take-away is that people want growth and prosperity but not at the expense of our most precious resources, food and water.  

The leader of the provincial PCs was video taped saying they would open up not all but a big chunk of the greenbelt and start building single family dwellings as a strategy to reduce housing costs.

“The demand for single dwelling homes is huge but no one can afford them,” he said.

As an affordable housing strategy, Ford said he had been talking to some of the biggest developers in the country, who were saying there was no land available to them, and it was their idea to build on farm fields and drive the costs down.

He backtracked Tuesday, promising not to touch the Greenbelt, announcing that “after consultation with the people of Ontario, an Ontario PC Government would maintain the Greenbelt in its entirety.”

“I looked at it as making sure we have more affordable housing. There have been a lot of voices saying that they don’t want to touch the Greenbelt. I govern through the people, I don’t govern through government,” said Ford.

“The people have spoken – we won’t touch the greenbelt. Very simple. That’s it, the people have spoken. I’m going to listen to them, they don’t want me to touch the greenbelt, we won’t touch the greenbelt. Simple as that.”

Adding, the following wording will be included in the upcoming Ontario PC Platform: Increase the supply of affordable housing across the GTA while protecting the Greenbelt in its entirety.

Simcoe and Dufferin counties are impacted by proposed expansions to this and other land use plans and there is a lot of concern and opposition being voiced at the municipal level but their position, as we understand it, is that there are many policies in place to protect land. 

Farmland and water sources must be protected. Like fifth generation Clearview farmer Brooke Timmons wrote in a letter last month, “If we keep letting our farmland go for development we will no longer be able to feed ourselves.”

Farmland is being gobbled up by development and the increased population is putting a strain on water sources. 

According to the Greenbelt Foundation, nine out of 10 Ontarians want new growth to occur in already built up areas. In a poll conducted by Environics Research for the Greenbelt Foundation and Environmental Defence, Ontarians were in strong support of policies to support the Growth Plan and protect farmland. 

The land and the water must be protected. How we do that has yet to be worked out and hopefully will be an ever evolving goal. There is a lot of finger pointing going on now with rural municipalities defending their land from urban decision makers but surely we can agree that we all need good wholesome food and we need clean water. 

88 per cent support directing growth to already-built up areas; 84 per cent support local government incentives to direct growth to main streets, older commercial areas and existing built-up neighbourhoods; 73 per cent say developers are building too may single-family homes in suburbia and need to build a greater range and mix of housing options closer to transit and amenities; 72 per cent say the Province should only fund transit projects in communities with the housing and job density to support the infrastructure; 84 per cent say yes to midrise development on main streets if it means better transit, more shops and amenities, and more green space.

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