The Greenbelt drama keeps growing as the pressure mounts for Premier Doug Ford’s government.
The controversial Greenbelt land swap orchestrated by the provincial government is getting more curious by the day. This morning, another bombshell dropped, when it was revealed that developers who purchased formerly protected land – land that Ford has stressed repeatedly is needed to create some 50K homes – are essentially trying to flip it. Yikes.
In a statement issued by Ford’s camp this morning, the Premier revealed that he discovered developers tried to sell Greenbelt properties during ongoing government conversations, well before the ink dried on the scathing Auditor General's report, released earlier this month.
Ford’s team alleges that two Ajax sites, 765 and 775 Kingston Road East, selected as part of a controversial land swap plan were put up for sale without disclosure.
“At no point was the intention to sell disclosed to the government’s facilitator during active and ongoing discussions,” reads Ford’s statement. “This behaviour goes against everything that our government is doing to bring home ownership into reach for more people.”
Ford said that the two plots of land could be returned to the Greenbelt, which would prohibit development on the sites. This is somewhat a change of tune from the Premier, who previously said his government would not reconsider which lands should be removed from the Greenbelt in the wake of the Auditor General's report.
For those somehow in the dark (it’s summer, after all), earlier this month, the Province’s Auditor General released a 95-page report detailing how a non-transparent selection process for lands removed from the Greenbelt for housing development was “biased” and revealed “preferential treatment” for certain developers.
In the weeks since, Ryan Amato, the Housing Minister’s Chief of Staff who was recognized as a key player in the shady dinner party dealings with developers, resigned from his position. Furthermore, the RCMP is currently exploring launching a full investigation into the matter. Ford and Housing Minister Steve Clark have repeatedly asserted their lack of involvement and influence in the land selection process.
Recognizing he’s under the microscope and Ontarians are finally demanding accountability from the increasingly infamous premier, Ford issued a warning for other Greenbelt developers in his statement.
“To the other property owners, you're on notice: if you don't meet our government's conditions, including showing real progress by year end with a plan to get shovels in the ground by 2025, your land will go back into the Greenbelt," Ford said.
As more layers are peeled back from this onion, it looks like the beloved Greenbelt land is one step closer to protection and preservation.