Yet more Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZO’s) from Premier Doug Ford’s government.
In the past two weeks alone it has rammed through approval for the construction of a foreign-owned glass factory in Stratford that will require the taking of around one million litres of groundwater each day and the destruction of the Lower Duffins Creek, a 20-hectare provincially significant wetland complex in Pickering, for the building of both a casino and a warehouse complex.
Now, in times past the Stratford project would have required an automatic Environmental Assessment. However, we live in different times. We have a government that believes it knows better than the experts and in the name of “cutting red tape,” has made it a policy of moving forward like the proverbial “bull in the china shop.”
Its arrogance and shortsightedness are reminiscent of a previous Conservative government that also believed it knew best and chose to cut red tape. The result was sickness and death in Walkerton.
In the case of the Lower Duffins Creek, the Ministry of Natural Resources designated this wetland provincially significant in 2005. Ontario’s Provincial Policy Statement prohibits all development and site alteration within provincially significant wetlands. It also prohibits development on adjacent land. The requirement to ensure their protection is also included under the Conservation Authorities Act.
The government’s response has been to declare it will remove the provincially significant wetland designation to allow the casino and warehouse complex to proceed.
Obviously, this government has no time for the rule of law. Its total contempt for standing legislation that provides environmental protection can be seen in the excessive use of MZOs. In fact, it would appear that this government is democratic in name only.
Evidence of this abuse can be seen in section 6 of Bill 229, an omnibus bill being presented this week in the legislature. If passed, it will gut the conservation authorities’ power to protect our environment.
The government would have you believe that these initiatives are necessary to combat the ravages of COVID-19.
The truth is that the only beneficiaries of this disregard of the rules are the rich and powerful developers and speculators that contribute generously to the Conservative Party of Ontario.