Petition launched by Oakville watershed group to stop anti-environmental legislation


Published May 6, 2024 at 9:50 am

watershed protection

An environmental group pledged to preserve the province’s river systems is calling the Ontario government’s Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act a “travesty” that represents a “death knell” for environmental protection, good planning and legal rights in Ontario.

Bill 185 passed first reading April 10 and after some debate (and passing second reading), has now been referred to committee.

Along with other recent legislative changes from Bill 23 to Bill 162 – the Get It Done Act, the Build More Homes Act is focussed on streamlining approvals to get shovels in the ground for new housing faster to meet the provincially-mandated goal of 1.5 million new homes by 2031.

The goal of Bill 185 is to prioritize ready-to-go housing projects with a new ‘use it or lose it’ process to address stalled development; provide municipalities and builders with greater certainty to get homes built faster (including limiting third-party appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal); streamlining approvals for student housing and modular homes; and supporting innovative construction methods such as mass timber.

The Oakville-based Ontario Headwaters Institute believes the province already has an extensive framework for land use planning and watershed management but that development is already “out-stripping the science, policy, and performance frameworks required to maintain the ecological integrity of our watersheds, especially in southern Ontario.”

Headwaters, said the Ontario Headwaters Institute, form the basis of the ecological integrity of watersheds and contribute “fundamental” social and economic goods and services. Current protection is inadequate, with the organization citing a host of problems, including:

  • An absence of provincial guidelines for ecological integrity
  • A lack of balance in the ‘one-window’ provincial approach
  • The absence of a provincial wetland strategy, awkward mechanisms for the identification and inclusion of significant wetlands and “aberrations” such as the sixteen definitions for a wetland in the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan
  • Conflicts between municipal and conservation authority mandates
  • A lack of consistency in headwaters protection policies among conservation authorities

Bill 185 would make it that much worse and the Institute is encouraging Ontario residents to sign their petition to send the Bill back to the drawing board.

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