Ford Tells Federal Environment Minister Greenbelt is “Our Jurisdiction”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is “really disappointed” that the federal government may try to impede on his plans to build 50K homes on the Greenbelt.

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault was quoted by The Narwhal yesterday as saying that he is “very worried about what’s happening with the Greenbelt,” and that Ottawa “will be looking at the potential use of federal tools to stop some of these projects.”

While no specific developments for the Greenbelt have been put forth, one such tool Guilbeault floated was species-at-rick legislation, which could stop a project if it harms endangered species. The Narwhal noted that the federal Impact Assessment Act, which would evaluate a development’s environmental, social, and economic effects, could also be of use to Guilbeault.

When asked about the Minister’s comments during a press conference in Brampton on Friday morning, Ford told reports, “This is our jurisdiction.”

“I’m really disappointed when I hear that, when we work collaboratively,” Ford said. “We have 300K more people every year coming to our province… I just want to build homes, because the next question [will be] where are we going to put these people? You can’t complain about not having enough housing for years, and then complain when we come up with a solution to do it. We’re going to continue building the 50K homes on those pieces of property.”

In November, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, announced that Ontario would open up 7,400 acres of the Greenbelt for development in order to solve the province’s housing crisis. The government plans to make up for the loss by adding 9,400 acres of protected land elsewhere.

Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner and Auditor General have since launched separate investigations into the development, and the Ontario Provincial Police are “poking around” as well. All three inquiries stem from allegations that Ford and Clark tipped off developers ahead of the public announcement that land was to be removed from the Greenbelt.

When asked about the investigations on Friday, Ford said there was nothing nefarious at play.

“Let me make it very clear, there’s nothing going on there outside of building homes,” Ford said. “We want to build homes. We’re going to build homes as fast as we possibly can… but make no mistake about it, we’re building homes on those pieces of property as sure as I’m standing here today.”