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BREAKING: New housing minister Calandra to launch Greenbelt development review

Angela Gismondi
BREAKING: New housing minister Calandra to launch Greenbelt development review
SCREENSHOT — Premier Doug Ford held a press conference today (Sept. 5) following the resignation of Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing on Labour Day (Sept. 4). Ford also shuffled the cabinet.

Following the resignation of Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and a Labour Day cabinet shuffle, Premier Doug Ford held a press conference this morning (Sept. 5) to announce new housing minister Paul Calandra will be launching a complete review and re-evaluation of Greenbelt development.

“I’ve asked my new minister of municipal affairs and housing to launch his review, and as part of this process, re-evaluate the remaining land swap sites,” said Ford. “These sites, these proposals will have to survive on their own merit.

“Minister Calandra will spend the coming days and weeks working with his officials to design and launch this review. It will be informed by recommendations put forward by the auditor general. As ministry officials design and launch this review the government’s non-partisan, non-political facilitator will continue her work with the remaining landowners and homebuilders. In fact, her work to ensure the landowners pay for important community infrastructure like parks, community centres, schools and hospitals will be an important part of this review in addition to consultation with municipalities, Indigenous leaders and regular everyday people.”

Clark resigned Sept. 4 days after the integrity commissioner’s report was released. It found Clark contravened two sections of the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994 “by failing to oversee the process by which lands in the Greenbelt were selected for development.” A few weeks before that an auditor general’s report was also released which found Clark’s chief of staff favoured certain developers over others when selecting which lands would come out of the Greenbelt.

“I’ve always had so much respect for Steve, his dedication to his community and his unwavering belief in Ontario,” said Ford. “His decision to step away couldn’t have been easy but it only demonstrates his integrity, his maturity and his commitment to our province.”

Last year, the province took about 7,400 acres of land out of the Greenbelt with plans to build 50,000 homes and replaced it with about 9,400 acres elsewhere. Fifteen sites were chosen by the province to be removed from the protected Greenbelt to make way for housing development.

“The process that we used to make changes to the Greenbelt could have been better, the process should have been better,” Ford admitted. “It’s why we agreed to implement all 14 recommendations from the auditor general to improve our processes. At the same time, I’ve also said that nothing matters more than building homes.”

Ford said the review would include all the Greenbelt lands, not only the ones that were removed.

“It was mandated back in 2005 from the previous government that they should review every 10 years,” said Ford. “We’re going to make sure that we consult with everyone to make the appropriate changes. We’re going to do a complete review… It’s not just the 14 lands. It’s going to be the 700 or 800 lands right across the board.”

When asked if development on these lands was going to be paused Ford said, “The provincial facilitator will continue working with the landowners and the builders to move forward, but it’s going to be based on the merits.

“They’ll be able to sit down and talk to stakeholders, be it the Indigenous communities, people that need homes, (they) will be talking to communities.

“We’re going to see what the review says at the end of the review and we’ll analyze it. It will be up to the minister to make that decision.”

Ford also talked about looking at all options when it comes to fulfilling its goal to build 1.5 million homes over the next decade.

“We’re going to exhaust every avenue looking at modular homes, traditional builds,” he said. ‘We’re going to go across the country to make sure that if there are modular homebuilders that we bring them into Ontario.”

Other moves in the cabinet shuffle include Prabmeet Sarkaria to minister of transportation; Caroline Mulroney to president of the Treasury Board; and Stan Cho to minister of long-term care.

Rob Flack becomes associate minister of housing with a specific mandate on attainable housing and modular homes reporting to the minister.

Todd McCarthy becomes associate minister of transportation, reporting to the minister of transportation, and Nina Tangri becomes associate minister of small business reporting to the minister of economic development, job creation and trade.

— With files from Canadian Press


Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.

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