Bill 66 – Are Natural Resource Protections “Red Tape”?

The government has introduced Bill 66 in order to reduce “red tape.” While it is hard to argue with effectively removing unnecessary reporting and compliance measures, the kind of red tape that is to be removed with schedule 10 of the Bill, has sparked much controversy. Schedule 10 relates to the amendments to the Planning Act allowing for “open-for-business” municipal planning by-laws. These amendments would allow municipalities to make applications to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to bypass existing legislation. Given that the existing legislation has already been agreed upon, we should pause to consider whether benefits of reducing red tape in these cases exceed the costs. Is Schedule 10, – the open-for-business clause – in fact protecting us from undue costs, or is it instead putting at risk essential laws that we consider dear to us in Ontario?

For example, Schedule 10 could allow municipalities to bypass the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act (2001), the Clean Water Act (2006), and the Greenbelt Act (2005) that were originally developed through extensive consultation with the public sector, communities, and experts. This process led to the creation of effective policies that are specifically intended to protect the environment, natural heritage sites, human health, and farmland. Therefore, Schedule 10 raises concerns about the long-term protection of our natural assets including some of our best farmland, specifically farmland facing development pressures in and beyond the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Once farmland has been developed for residential or industrial purposes, the possibility of that land ever returning to agriculture is essentially nonexistent.

Bill 66, and especially schedule 10, not only targets red tape but also prioritizes economic growth at the expense of environmental and social well-being for current and future generations. As such, this proposed legislation runs contrary to CFFO’s long-term goals of improving soil and water quality as well as preserving farmland that all contribute to sustainable long-term agri-food sector success and food security for Ontario. If, however, the Bill is passed despite widespread public concerns, accountability measures should be added to the legislation. For example, it should include additional provisions to provide transparency and public review and input regarding decisions at both the municipal and the ministerial levels.

If the argument for the proposed changes is the need to expand housing supply in line with provincial targets, then municipalities should also be given incentives to adhere to provincial density targets within existing urban areas rather than expanding outward into these (otherwise) protected lands. We see many options, including

  • revising municipal financing by expanding revenue sources beyond land taxes, which give the incentive to expand into protected lands;
  • revising the Landlord and Tenant Act to encourage more rental housing within municipalities; and
  • rezoning brownfields in municipalities to offer expansion opportunities for development through urban renewal.

Protocols need to be in place so natural resources and farmland protections are not minimized when planning future development projects, in the name of red tape reduction. Rather than watering down current protections, we in Ontario need to ensure there are further safeguards so that development goals truly balance social, economic, and environmental concerns to support future sustainability in Ontario.


Josh Kraemer is Communications Intern for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXFM Chatham, and CKNX Wingham.

Posted by Josh Kraemer on January 18, 2019

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3 Comments

  • John Schwartzentruber says:

    “… existing legislation has already been agreed upon…” – by whom? The reality is that much of the restrictive regulation is passed by elected “representatives” with minimal to non-existent input from their constituency, either by default or administrative design.

    The reference to the Bill Kelly piece was disingenuous, a red herring – the Walkerton tragedy was caused not by a lack of regulation, but by gross negligence on the part of the gatekeepers. That is an incontrovertible fact, fully documented. The rules were in place, but not followed. People died.

    “…natural heritage sites…our natural assets including some of our best farmland” – when did the term “heritage”, with all its social implications, begin to apply to that which is situated on private property? When did “yours and mine” morph into “ours”, surreptitiously transplanting private interests into the public domain?

    Clearly, there are areas of concern which need to be viewed as part of a larger framework.

    However, there has been a subtle but ultimately drastic shift in addressing these issues through an ideological perspective that is completely foreign and contrary to the underlying principles that gave us the beneficial quality of life that is the envy of the world.

    Regressing to the political and philosophical standards that cause others to leave their unhappy homelands for greener shores can hardly be deemed logical or supportable, by any measure.

    Is there an easy balancing solution available?

    No.

    That’s why it is so tempting to slide into the embrace of simplistic, repackaged ideologies, in spite of their historically abysmal failures.

    It will require a visionary effort to foster the collaborative, successful initiative that respects and preserves our true heritage – the legacy of success built on the foundation of recognizing the value and rights of divinely-patterned individuals who found their responsible place in society.

    The individual effort that built this country is legendary. The big surprise – it takes hard work by individuals to maintain it. Never has it been possible to coast to continued success.

    • Uncle Richard says:

      Pertaining to the John Schwartzentruber comment. I agree with a lot of the sentiment in the comment but….
      Must be missing something—-Where has the writer referred to the Bill Kelly piece?
      Seems that the comment is more the writers’ comments on the issue than on the article itself

      • John Schwartzentruber says:

        Hi Uncle Richard,

        I referred to the “Bill Kelly piece” from Global News because the author had it hyperlinked in the sentence – “…the kind of red tape that is to be removed with schedule 10 of the Bill, has sparked much controversy. ” (First paragraph)

        This is where the link takes you: https://globalnews.ca/news/4836962/bill-66-walkerton/

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