QUEEN’S PARK — Ontario’s Official Opposition NDP is calling on Doug Ford to scrap troubling new legislation that paves the way for developers to build on the province’s wetlands by stripping conservation authorities of their powers.
The changes, buried in the government’s budget bill, would let the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry override the conservation authorities responsible for protecting Ontario’s wetlands and keeping people and property safe from floods.
“By attempting to help his developer friends skip checks and balances, Doug Ford is undermining conservation authorities and recklessly endangering communities,” said NDP Environment Critic Ian Arthur. “We should be protecting our wetlands and keeping people safe from floods, not dragging Ontario backwards in the fight against the climate crisis.
“Young people in our province will pay the greatest price for this government’s ongoing attack on the environment.”
Doug Ford’s Conservatives have cut funding for flood management, ripped up green energy contracts, and aren’t even trying to hit their own watered down targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is responsible for protecting Ontarians from natural hazards,” NDP MPP Judith Monteith-Farrell (Thunder Bay-Atikokan) asked in question period at Queen’s Park on Thursday. “Minister, why is this government drastically changing the role of conservation authorities, and putting Ontarians at risk?”
The changes come as a particular blow in the Niagara Region, which worked hard to get its conservation authority back on track following controversies and lawsuits. Wayne Gates, NDP MPP for Niagara Falls, slammed the sneaky move by the Conservatives for robbing local residents of their voice.
“We have no intention of going back to the way things were, or letting development run rampant over our green spaces and natural heritage,” said Gates during question period. “Minister, will you side with the people of Niagara and keep their citizen voices on our Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority by striking down this flawed legislation?”