The Government of Ontario has introduced legislation to restore all land that was removed from the Greenbelt in 2022.
The Greenbelt Statute Law Amendment Act reverses the Province’s decision to remove 7,400 acres of land from the protected area for housing, a process the Auditor General found was heavily influenced by developers who owned the land in question.
If passed, the legislation would mandate that any future boundary changes to the Greenbelt be made through a "public and transparent process" that would require the approval of the legislature.
As well, a review of the protected lands will be conducted every 10 years. The government said the process will be led by "impartial, nonpartisan experts" in conservation agriculture and environmentalism, and will include engagement with Indigenous communities and municipalities.
"We are following through on our commitment to fully restore these lands and provide enhanced protections to the Greenbelt moving forward," said Paul Calandra, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
"At the same time, we remain focused and committed to tackling Ontario’s housing supply crisis and working with our municipal partners to achieve our shared housing targets. We know there’s more work to be done."
The legislation proposes keeping the 9,400 acres that were added to the Greenbelt last year in the protected area, including lands in the Paris Galt Moraine and Urban River Valley areas.
Established in 2005, the Greenbelt is a swath of protected farmland, wetlands, and forests that stretches across more than two million acres within the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
The Ford government’s decision to remove lands from the area last year has been marred by scandal and led to the resignation of multiple officials, including former Housing Minister Steve Clark and Ryan Amato, his Chief of Staff.
Separate investigations by the Governor General and Integrity Commissioner found that the land selection process was flawed, and showed “bias” towards a certain pack of developers who saw their land values increase by roughly $8.3B.
Last week, the RCMP launched a criminal investigation into the Province’s decision to open parts of the Greenbelt for development. Calandra told reporters on Monday that the RCMP has yet to contact the provincial government.
"We undertook a process, or a public policy decision, that was clearly not supported by the people of the province of Ontario," Calandra said. "We want to make progress on building 1.5 million homes. But ultimately this was not how the people of the province of Ontario wanted us to go about doing that."