The other day, a friend proposed a blog on how Ontario premier Doug Ford is hoping to get even with the critics who don’t want him making his friends rich with Greenbelt land. He suggested that this is with ministerial zoning orders (MZO) and the purpose would be to jam up municipal traffic everywhere in Ontario. The Ontario Tories have tested the idea in Toronto and we know it will work—Toronto has been in gridlock for most of the past year.
I can only address the driving around Barrie, Ontario. Between fixing some of Barrie’s worst streets, the usual new condos and other construction, and the infrastructure repair and replacement as well as with all the highway 400 bridges through the city being rebuilt, Barrie has discovered gridlock.
But I don’t think Doug Ford is mad at anyone in Barrie. We have two conservative members of the legislature who are both in the cabinet. Even the mayor in this town is a conservative embarrassment.
But everyone in Ontario should be concerned about MZOs. The idea for these orders was originally to protect sensitive land, not build on it. With our municipalities being creatures of the province, the MZO was simply a tool to provide help when needed. It was a solution to problems when a municipality needed help straightening out a zoning problem. It was never supposed to be a way for the government of the day to look after its friends with deep pockets. It was never considered a patronage solution.
In the past, MZOs have been used one or twice per year to assist municipalities. One that came to light in the past was when a grocery store in Elliot Lake had its roof collapse and the municipality needed to fast-track a new location. The McGinty government was asked to help and provided a MZO to expedite the process of approvals. It was done publicly, it was needed and it solved a problem for the community. In 15 years as the government in Ontario, the liberals had used MZOs only 16 times.
It was only since the Ford conservative government came into power in 2018, that more than a hundred MZOs have been provided. For some reason, we have not been able to find a list of them.
Copyright 2023 © Peter Lowry
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