Wake up people…a provincial prison will not be the end of Steve Clark’s land grabs. The Ontario government is using a tool to speed up controversial developments by eliminating expert analysis and public input. It’s called a Minister’s Zoning Order. It was meant for special cases, but has now become routine, and is being used by Steve Clark to push through the Kemptville prison project.
A Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) is part of Ontario’s Planning Act and allows Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister, Steve Clark, to make a ruling on how a piece of land is to be used in the province, with no chance of appeal by municipalities, citizens, or environmental groups!
MZOs have traditionally been used by the provincial government in emergencies, or to quickly advance a major initiative of provincial significance. Times have changed. In just over a year, Minister Steve Clark has issued over 33 new MZOs, which is many more than the past government did during their entire 15 years in office!
Currently, despite opposition, no public consultation, no infrastructure in place to support the proposed jail development and the loss of prime agricultural lands and opportunities, the provincial government is assuring us that they know what is best for your community. Developers are being selected, and all regulations under the Planning and Environmental Assessment Acts that normally would apply are set aside under a MZO, in order to fast track the project. The principles of good governance, accountability, and transparency, to say the least, are not being respected. The democratic process seems to be an inconvenience, and so is being swept aside and one wonders why? The legislation and processes to enact these legislations were put in place to ensure the public good, and in one swipe of a pen, overthrown?
Let’s not sit back quietly while the province tramples all over your rights, your official plans and zoning bylaws, in favour of back door deals with developers. Minister Clark needs to stay in touch with community, work together with Councils, respect the processes in place…the Planning Act, Municipal Act, public consultation requirements for developments, democracy rather than dictatorship.
Protect your community… contact your local council and Steve Clark. Let them know how you feel and how it will effect your next vote!