Lois Cooper | MuskokaTODAY.com OPINION
The world is on the “highway to climate hell,” meanwhile the Ford government adds fuel.
Third party appeals on municipal amendments — like the one the Town of Bracebridge gave for a mega quarry on Bonnie Lake Road — are set to be eliminated by Ontario’s Bill 23.
This as yesterday UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on COP delegates in Egypt to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels and speed funding to poorer countries struggling under climate impacts, which have already occurred.
Retroactive to Oct 25 …
While Monday everyone was focused on Premier Doug Ford’s failed bid to use the notwithstanding clause against education workers, the proposed Bill 23 tramples the rights of all citizens by eliminating their rights to appeal planning decisions to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) for a second look.
It’s a hidden part of an omnibus bill that proposes to empower the construction industry, while citizens believe it is about housing.
If passed adjacent landowners will not be able to appeal, even if it is an environmental issue.
Conservation Authorities will be muzzled as well.
According to the law firm website of Goodmans.ca, it states: “The elimination of third party appeals would also have a retroactive effect. The legislation would deem all appeals already filed to have been dismissed if a hearing on the merits was not scheduled as of Oct. 25, 2022, the day Bill 23 was first introduced.
“If Bill 23 is enacted as proposed, many who filed appeals under the existing legal regime would see their appeals extinguished. As currently drafted, these retroactive dismissals would also apply to appeals of municipally-initiated amendments if the appeal had not been scheduled for a merit hearing as of Oct. 25, 2022.”
So those who now have the right to appeal Bracebridge council’s amendment of Oct. 12, allowing Fowler’s a mega quarry, have until Nov. 15 to launch such an appeal with the OLT.
All the time Ford, MPP and MNRF Minister Graydon Smith and Fowlers have been happily standing by.
Ford drives by the site on his way to his cottage on Deer Lake.
It is up to local councils to lobby the Ford government to allow appeals to go to the Ontario Land Tribunal as an act of openness and honour.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario — which Smith was once president — is concerned about the effect of Bill 23 on the environment.
“Many of the proposed amendments to the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act in Bill 23 are concerning,” says the AMO, “as they signal a move away from environmental protection at a time when climate change impacts are being felt more at the local level.
“Bill 23 proposes sweeping changes to the regulatory responsibilities of Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities which, if passed, will undermine the collaborative and productive changes put forward by the ministry led Conservation Authority Working Group over the past two years.”
The Bill also gives pits and quarries special status to request amendments to official plans and zoning bylaws.
Status that others won’t be able to make such requests until the official plan has been in place for two years.
Wetland evaluation gutted by Bill 23
It means the wetland evaluation system is set to be gutted by Bill 23.
See for yourself, at the Environmental Registry of Ontario — ero.ontario.ca — under
proposed changes to the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System.
It calls on the government to “remove the requirement for the ministry to review and confirm wetland evaluation results.
“The evaluation is not a complete biophysical inventory and certain information, particularly about the presence of rare species and about hydrological functions, may be lacking even after the evaluation is completed.
“If this is determined to be the case, then more information should be obtained before making decisions about the types of land uses in the vicinity of evaluated wetlands (particularly those deemed to be provincially significant).”
See the entire proposed changes at ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-6160.
Most of the references to the wetland evaluation system are struck out.
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