Dear Ontario: Stop #Bill66

The #Bill66 Comment deadline is today!

I’ve just posted my comment. If you live in Ontario you should too.  There’s more information after the comment.

I am writing to tell you to withdraw “Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018”

I grew up Woolwich Township, and went to high school in Elmira, and I moved back to the area to raise my child. As a child I spent time visiting family from the Walkerton area. Both these towns have a lot going for them, but the terrible water issues they’ve suffered have left deep scars.

Human beings will not be able to drink the water in our town in my lifetime, and likely not even in my grandchildren’s lifetime. The laws protecting the health of our people and out environment are better than they were, but I expect they could be improved. Going the other way is simply not an option. I invite anyone who thinks otherwise to drop by my town and drink the water under our feet rather than the tap water we pipe in from Waterloo.

I agree with our town councillor who expressed anger at the provincial government’s implication that Woolwich Township isn’t “open for business.” And another who said we don’t need or want businesses that can’t operate within existing laws that protect our water, natural heritage, farmland and human health and well-being.

Urban sprawl is expensive, and I’m lucky to live in a place that has worked hard to responsibly manage growth through regional and municipal planning based on evidence and citizen consultation.

Parcels of land, factories, farms, cities, towns and hamlets aren’t islands; they share the environment that supports us all. Our current regional planning procedures ensure that the use we make of our lands don’t harm our neighbours. We all need a healthy environment.

Kitchener-Conestoga is a predominantly rural riding. Pesticides are killing off our bee population: we need stronger environmental law. The farms that surround the settlement areas and knit Waterloo Region together are important if we want to eat.

But the safety of our water and our land is only part of the problem with Bill 66. Omnibus Bills are never a good thing. Democracy doesn’t serve the public if laws are rushed through willy nilly without making use of the democratic procedures that subject them to scrutiny, so they are properly formed.

I have not had the time to read through the 22 other laws Bill 66 will change, but it is inconceivable that your government would strip away what feeble protections we have in the Wireless Services Agreements Act 2013. If there are any good parts in Bill 66, they can be pulled out and introduced as standalone laws.

As bad as everything I do know about Bill 66 is, the worst to me is your government’s attempt to strip public consultation out of the process. That was one of the things your predecessors got very wrong. My friend has been trying to set up an appointment with our MPP without success. This is still a democracy, isn’t it?

In case there is any doubt, I am writing this to tell you to withdraw Bill 66.


[The following is reprinted from the KitCon Blog]

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During the election, Mr Ford categorically promised not to touch the Greenbelt.

Not only is the Greenbelt home to 5,500 farms, 78 species at risk and 102 million tonnes of carbon storage, the reason it was protected in the first place was to protect a great deal of Ontario’s water.

But now Mr Ford’s majority government has introduced Bill 66, The Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, legislation. This will indeed open Ontario’s Greenbelt up to development.

Because it was introduced quietly going into Christmas, and the Ford Government has made no secret of its intention to push Bill 66 through quickly, I don’t know if anyone has yet managed a thorough examination of all the ramifications of Bill 66.

It may only be 35 pages long, but it’s an omnibus bill, which means everything you need to know isn’t contained in this draft legislation.  You’d have to read through every one of the 22 laws it will change:

Some of the changes it makes may be good things, but the bad things thoroughly outweigh any good that may be there.  That’s the thing about Omnibus Bills: many different things are bundled together in a package too big to be adequately considered in a democracy.

There is no reason Bill 66 couldn’t be stopped, and the good parts could be reintroduced as ordinary laws that can be properly understood and debated in the Legislature. 

Our unrepresentative voting system has gifted Mr Ford’s government with 100% power to pass any law it wants, even though it was elected by only 40% of the votes cast.  (A mere twentysomething percent of eligible votes).

So what’s the rush?

There is nothing stopping them from allowing citizens and the MPPs in the legislature to know what it is they are passing, and allow adequate parliamentary debate of all aspects.  That’s how our system is supposed to work.  In a majority government, even though the party with all the power can pass any law it wants, the reason we have an opposition parties is to ensure that our legislators make sure the laws they pass stand up to scrutiny.  If there are bad unintended consequences, or even if the legislation is too broad or unclear, these things can be dealt with before they become law.

The only reason for pushing something like this through fast is to keep us from knowing what they’re doing until it’s too late.  Keeping the people in the dark is not how a Government for the people would operate.

In the Region of Waterloo discussion of Bill 66, Waterloo Mayor Jaworsky said, “No one asked for this.”

Mr Ford keeps saying he needs to do this to show Ontario is “Open For Business.”  But what does that mean?  This law is supposed to “cut red tape” that prevents development.

But the fact is that development isn’t being prevented.  There is plenty of room in Ontario, plenty of land available and open for development without going anywhere near the protected lands of the Green Belt.  There is no need to endanger our water or anything else.  That’s why municipalities across Ontario are passing resolutions saying they don’t want or need this.

Why is this happening?

Because when the laws protecting Ontario’s water and the Greenbelt were put in place, land prices in the Greenbelt stayed low.  When a farmland can’t be turned into a factory or subdivision, it stays viable as farmland.  But because of the low prices, some developers bought land in the Greenbelt, speculating that in time they would elect a government willing to undo Greenbelt protections.

Although all-party approved changes to Ontario’s election financing law prevented political parties from accepting corporate donations directly, the changes didn’t go far enough, because developers like Mattamy Homes were allowed to contribute ridiculous sums of money to Partisan third party advertiser Ontario Proud which specialized in attack ads against Mr Ford’s opponents.  (And Mr Ford is undoing that election financing law because the people he is for have lots of money to spend to ensure the governments they want get elected.   But that’s another story.)

The only reason the Ford Government is trying so hard to carve up the green spaces of our province with factories and subdivisions is because their rich supporters want to make a profit.

Ontario has been doing a pretty good job of long term planning, protecting sensitive environments, our water and our food supplies. Once farmland is paved, its gone.

Once farmland is developed, it’s not farm land anymore.

The best we can hope for from Bill 66 is that decades of careful land management will be messed up.  The worst is another Walkerton.  Or another Elmira.

And if that’s not bad enough, Bill 66 does away with any requirement for public notice or consultation or meetings, and no matter what problems are caused, we won’t even be able to appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.  So called “Open For Business” by-laws passed behind closed doors will trump laws, policies and municipal official plans developed through extensive and open public consultation.  Communities would have no recourse to influence or challenge them.

And even if your Council doesn’t do any of these things, the Council next door might, and endanger the environment we all share.

What Can We Do?

We have until January 20 to formally tell the Ford Government consultation what we think about Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 on the province’s website.

January 20th is the deadline for comments to Bill 66 on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (EBR).
Be sure that you and others that you know speak up and let your concerns be known.  It would be fantastic if your group or organization can make an official response or submission.  There is plenty of information in the Bill 66 Recent Articles
linked below.  There are a myriad of issues and concerns, but you can say as little or as much as you like in your comment.   Don’t be shy about making comments personally – even if it is just a short sentence or two.  I would suggest making it clear right at the top that you don’t want Bill 66.  I am afraid to say that at this point they are not likely to listen to what we say, but they will certainly tally up how many comments support or oppose the bill.

Please take two minutes to send a message to the Ontario Government to stop Bill 66:

COMMENT ON Omnibus Bill 66 HERE

DEADLINE SUNDAY: January 20th, 2019

You can also visit the Green Party of Ontario’s Defend The Greenbelt website.  If you feel you need assistance in using the comment process, the GPO advises you to Click here for step-by-step instructions to participate in the government consultation.

You can still use Hold The Line tool to send email to local politicians.


And of course we can always contact our Member of Provincial Parliament:
Michael Harris Jr, Kitchener-Conestoga, Progressive Conservative Party

Toronto:  tel 416 326-6945, fax 416 326-6942

Rm 434, Main Legislative Bldg, Queen’s Park M7A 1A8

Constituency office:  Unit 3 and 4, 63 Arthur St. S., Elmira, N3B 2M6

Mike.harrisco@pc.ola.org

Tel 519 669-2090, fax 519 669-0476

And you can also call the Premier’s Office directly!
Call 416 325-1941 and leave a short message re your concerns about Bill 66


Bill 66 Recent Articles and Background:

Pat Merlihan, Woolwich Township: Dear Mike Harris, MPP

Woolwich Observer: Groups call on townships to oppose province’s Bill 66

Elmira Advocate: ENVIRONMENT UNDER THREAT FROM BILL 66

Global: Walkerton residents worry about Ford government’s Bill 66

CTV: Local councils urge Ford government to protect farmland

CBC: Region of Waterloo won’t support Bill 66, votes to send message to province

theRecord: Region of Waterloo says no to Bill 66 — Jan. 9

Jenn Pfenning, Wilmot Council: Bill 66

theRecord: Proposed bill could lead to policy patchwork in Ontario endangering environmental protections and public health

theRecord: Local groups asking municipalities to reject Bill 66

theRecord: Waterloo Region politicians need to say no to Bill 66

Today’s Farmer: Waterloo Federation opposes Bill 66

Ontario Nature: Bill 66: What you need to know

New Hamburg Independent: Local groups asking municipalities to reject Bill 66

theRecord: Increasing the risk of another Walkerton

Toronto Star: That ‘red tape’ Ford is cutting? It was meant to protect the environment, workers, lives

Toronto Star: Developing the Greenbelt is a disaster on multiple levels

Canadian Environmental Law Association : Deregulation Redux: Ontario’s Environmental Laws under Attack (Again)

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