The Province listened to Ontarians and promised to return and reverse all the removals and re-designations they made to the Greenbelt. That includes two parcels at 502 Winston Road and lands at Cline Road in Grimsby. However for Council, it seems the money-carrot attached to these developments may be too much to resist.
On Monday, Queen’s Park opened a 45-day commenting period through the Environment Registry of Ontario, allowing input from any person or entity, including municipalities on the prospect of reversing the controversial “land swap” and returning these lands back to the Greenbelt.
A last-minute motion at Monday night’s Council meeting brought by Councillor Baradziej looked to this commenting period and called for the Town to press ahead with potential development on the two sites. While strategically avoiding the term “Greenbelt”, the motion cited unrecoverable Town expenditures to date, identified previously as $82,000, shortfalls in funding for capital projects, the millions of dollars in community benefits and development charges, and that the two properties are not “controversial” as rationale for the Town to try and advance these developments.
Given that these two properties, one of them prime waterfront, were on the short list and stripped of Greenbelt protection in Premier Ford’s scandal now under criminal investigation, most Ontarians would consider those properties as controversial lands. The questions as to how these lands were removed or altered, especially the waterfront property at 502 Winston Road, makes them as controversial as any other part of the Ford Greenbelt flip-flop.
The motion resolved that Council:
“[…]direct our CAO Sarah Kim and staff to consult with legal consultants, MMAH, and the PLDF, to investigate the possibility of moving forward with these applications during the 30-day [sic] appeal period.”
MMAH = Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
PLDF = Provincial Land and Development Facilitator
Notably absent in the passed resolution is any consultation with residents and their position on development of these formerly protected Greenbelt properties. Given the public feedback for the 502 Winston “open house” held in September 2022, which was a resounding “NO”, you can bet that public sentiment has not changed on development of any (former) Greenbelt lands in Grimsby.
Considering how tainted the whole Greenbelt “land-swap” process has been, one would think municipalities would want to stay far away from the lands involved in a scandal that has yet to reach full-meltdown. However, it is clear that the prospect of losing money, money that has come onto the table via a Provincial process that is under RCMP investigation, may be simply too hard to resist.
The motion to try and pursue development on these two (former) Greenbelt properties was passed by Council, with only Councillor Charrois voting against it.
EDIT: If you have concerns about this direction, please contact Members of Council by visiting this link here and here, and/or register your comments with the ERO at this link here.