Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner’s private member’s bill took another step forward to becoming law today by unanimously passing second reading in the Legislature and it’s now moving on to committee. Yes, you read that right, “unanimously”.
The Paris Galt Moraine Conservation Act was introduced last month, and earlier today it was debated in the Legislature by MPPs before they voted to send it to the Standing Committee on General Government, where it will be studied and amended before coming back to the Legislature for a third and final reading.
There’s still a long road to go between now and then, but today’s passing of a second reading is cause enough for a celebration.
“I’m glad my colleagues unanimously showed their commitment to Ontario’s water today. Safeguarding water and food-growing farmland should not be partisan issues. Let this be a first step towards all-party collaboration to protect the places we love,” said Schreiner in a media statement.
The Paris Galt Moraine Conservation Act is a bill designed to protect the moraine from pollution, sprawl, and reckless resource extraction, while protecting sustainable, responsible development. In particular though, it’s meant to protect local drinking water since the moraine also feeds and sustains that ground water as it runs to and from the Grand River Watershed.
The bill would call for the Ontario government to amend the Planning Act and Development Charges Act to regulate development that threatens the integrity of the Paris Galt Moraine system. It would instruct the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in consultation with the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, to establish a Paris Galt Moraine Conservation Plan.
“This is about conserving what nature can do for free, so I cannot think of a more fiscally responsible solution. Failure to act could put the government on the hook for hundreds of millions in water infrastructure, like an expensive pipeline from the Great Lakes,” said Schreiner.
The Guelph MPP based his legislation on the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, which was passed by the Mike Harris Progressive Conservative government in 2001.
“I appealed to good progressive conservative thinking from the past,” Schreiner explained. “But it took four different bills over two years before the Oak Ridges Moraine was protected by legislation. With climate change on Ontario’s doorstep, and $1.2 billion in damage last year alone, we must act quicker. I look forward to working on this bill at committee, and this legislation returning to the House for a final vote.”
If passed, the Paris Galt Moraine Conservation Act would be historic as the first legislation from a Green MPP to be passed in Ontario. Final passage date to be determined…