Local protesters gather in Brockville to show their opposition to Bill 23.

Sustainable North Grenville and Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford were two local organizations behind a Brockville rally last week which protested the Ontario government’s Bill 23. The pop-up rally took place on November 25 outside MPP Steve Clark’s constituency office. 

“As municipal councils were just emerging from election day, the Ford government presented a Bill that purports to address the housing crisis by slashing the oversight of conservation authorities, allowing for unimpeded development on currently protected wetlands and other habitats, and furthering suburban sprawl,” reads a release obtained by the Times. The document goes on to list several arguments against Bill 23.

One argument against the Bill is that it will harm the environment by allowing the sale of formerly protected lands, and limiting the oversight powers of local Conservation Authorities. In addition, it is argued that “urban sprawl” resulting from Bill 23 would cause significant car traffic in the absence of appropriate public transportation, which would further harm the environment.

Another argument against the Bill is that by eliminating development charges, it will result in the creation of large communities without the proper amenities to support those who live there. Further, in Municipalities such as North Grenville where sustainable, progressive development is already underway, Bill 23 could lead to a much more drastic urban sprawl that would affect the look and feel of the community, with limited options for the Municipality to fight back.

“Our municipality has already told me that if this bill goes through as is, they will no longer have control over certain developments,” said Tom Graham, a local resident and leading member of Sustainable North Grenville. “This isn’t right. Local municipalities know what works for their communities.”

A local doctor – Sarah Tuck – was one of the organizers of the rally. “The rally exceeded expectations in terms of turnout,” said Sarah. “We had about 35 people from all over the region. There was a general sense of frustration with the resistance of our representatives to make socially and ecologically conscious decisions.” All those in attendance at the rally signed a letter which the children present delivered to Steve Clark’s office. Even though there was no one at the office at the time, a building manager allowed the children to slide the letter under the door of MPP Clark’s suite. 

“The atmosphere was upbeat and positive because we know we are just one of dozens of rallies happening throughout the province in the days to come,” Sarah added. “We remain optimistic that our actions can effect a change in this government’s stance and serious changes to the bill. We saw recently how collective dissent and action forced the government’s hand with Bill 28.”



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