It’s not news that the provincial government under Doug Ford can be controversial, but when the Ontario government introduced Bill 66 a few weeks ago it courted some major controversy as the worst fears of environmentalists were realized: developing the Greenbelt was on the table.
Bill 66, AKA: the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, is designed to “stimulate business investment, create good jobs, and make Ontario more competitive by cutting unnecessary regulations that are inefficient, inflexible or out of date,” according to the provincial government.
It’s an omnibus bill that alters numerous pieces of legislation, but among the most concerning for environmentalists are the Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Protection Act, the Greenbelt Act, and Lake Simcoe Protection Act. According to Environmental Defence, the Act “threatens drinking water, undermines evidence-based city planning, and removes protection from toxics chemicals for Ontario residents.”
It’s probably why so many mayors and members of city council around southern Ontario have come out against Bill 66, or, at the very least, want Queen’s Park to rethink it. And that includes Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie.
The purpose of Environmental Defence, according to their website, is “to challenge and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all,” and on that account Doug Ford has been keeping them very busy indeed. Tim Gray is the executive director, and despite the grave concerns about Bill 66, he’s actually hopeful that the legislation will be stopped before the legislature returns full-time later this winter.
So on this edition of the podcast, we hear from Gray about why he’s hopeful, why Bill 66 puts the Greenbelt at risk, what the Ford government’s environmental policy so far tells us about the next fights, and what concerned citizens can do if they want to help persuade the government to put Bill 66 back in a drawer.
So let’s talk about environmental action and what happens next with Bill 66 on this edition of the Guelph Politicast!
To find out more about Environmental Defence, you can visit their website here. The full debate on Bill 66 will take place in February when the Legislature returns as scheduled. February will also likely be the announcement of Mike Schreiner’s private members bill protecting the Paris-Galt Moraine. Stay tuned.
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