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Letter to the Editor Toronto Star and Globe and Mail re: “Greenbelt is Ontario’s jurisdiction, Ford says”

January 28, 2023
Published in the Globe and Mail, February 5, 2023

Dear Editors,

Ontario Premier Doug Ford claims that matters related to the GTA Greenbelt and land-use are "our jurisdiction." The constitutional, legal and financial reality is a bit more complicated than that. The federal government has numerous means through which it can intervene in planning and housing matters within a province if it chooses to do so. The habitat protection and pollution prevention provisions of the federal Fisheries Act provide extensive protection for waterways, shorelines and wetlands; federal protections exist for areas occupied by species at risk and migratory birds; federal impact assessments can be conducted of major infrastructure projects like the 413 and Bradford Bypass highway projects; federal funding can be provided for non-profit and cooperative housing, and for conservation land purchases and trusts; federal-provincial agreements exist in relation to the Rouge National Park and neighbouring Duffins-Rouge Agricultural Reserve; federal infrastructure funding can be used to leverage the location and form of development; federal tax rules around Real Estate Income Trusts (REITs) have had a major impact on the financialization and affordability of rental housing and can be reformed. The list goes on an on. Wider questions are being raised about the impact of Mr. Ford's 'housing' initiatives on the Treaty and traditional rights of the region's Indigenous Peoples. Contrary to the Premier's apparent beliefs, the province's authority is subject to some significant limitations, as he may be about to discover.
Yours sincerely,

Mark S. Winfield, Ph.D.Professor

Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change

York University.