Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday May 3, 2018
Ford reverses course on Greenbelt development, says he’ll maintain protected area
Public backlash prompted Doug Ford to backtrack Tuesday on an election promise to allow housing development in a protected green space around the Toronto region, with the Progressive Conservative leader saying he’s going to listen to those who want the area preserved.
A Tory government would maintain the Greenbelt in its entirety and enshrine that pledge in the party’s soon-to-be-released platform, Ford announced in a statement issued a day after saying he’d open the region to some construction to ease the housing crisis in the Greater Toronto Area.
“I looked at it as making sure we have more affordable housing,” Ford said of his initial position. “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.”
The Greenbelt — the world’s largest permanently protected green space –is a 7,200-square-kilometre area that borders the Greater Golden Horseshoe region around Lake Ontario. It was protected from urban development by legislation in 2005.
Ford’s flip-flop came less than a week before the official start of the provincial election campaign and hours after Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne called his Greenbelt-development pledge “wrongheaded”.
“If you open up the Greenbelt and make it into a Swiss cheese map you never get that back,” Wynne said earlier on Tuesday. “You never get that water protection back. You never get that agricultural land protection back.”
Wynne had acknowledged that some areas around the border of the Greenbelt have changed since it was established over a decade ago, but that was part of the original plan for the region, she said. (Source: CTV)