Letter to the editor – zoning orders

A reply to criticism of Zoning Orders

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by Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes Re: Ontario Government, letter to the editor, May 27, 2020

While I appreciate letter writer Colin Creasey’s concern for the democratic process, it’s important that I set the record straight on his statements regarding the use of Ministerial Zoning Orders or MZOs.

Our government, like those before us, has utilized MZOs since taking office in order to cut through the red tape that is slowing down critical projects that local communities need – and support. It’s certainly not a case of Queen’s Park knows best as these projects are brought forward by local communities with the support of local governments to create jobs and housing that local residents need.

So what types of developments has our government used an MZO to support? They include such important projects as:

  • A 224 long-term care bed facility.
  • A hospital expansion.
  • An innovation park creating up to 700 full-time jobs.
  • A residential rental building with 450 units.

As Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, I will not apologize for using the authority I have to fast-track projects that will create employment, provide state-of-the-art care for our seniors or expand hospital capacity. We are responding to local needs by speeding up the planning process so that municipalities can be ready, once the COVID-19 emergency declaration ends.

It’s also important for me to stress that we have been clear as a government that we will not touch the Greenbelt. Any MZO request for development that falls within the Greenbelt will not be considered, let alone approved.

The use of MZOs supported by locally elected governments is just one example of how our government is cutting red tape and working with our municipal partners to help build Ontario together.

Mr. Creasey also raised the issue of hydro rate increases, but unfortunately government has left in place the Ontario Electricity Re- bate. This could leave the impression residential customers are paying more for electricity, which is not true.

As part of our government’s efforts to clean up the hydro mess left behind by the previous government, effective November 1, 2019 hydro bills were changed in order to reflect the true cost of power. Under the previous government, the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) was hidden in the per kWh rate.

We believe that Ontarians deserve to know the true cost of power and the new, more transparent bills accomplish this. Rather than hiding the rebate, our government has made it a separate line item on your bill. But let me be clear: the same rebate is there so you do not pay more for the power you use.

I’m also pleased that effective June 1, 2020, our government introduced a fixed, flat “COVID-19 Recovery Rate” to provide continued electricity bill stability for time-of-use customers.

That means time-of-use electricity rates will be billed at 12.8 cents-per-kWh, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This flat rate will be in place until October 31, 2020, reflecting the continued increase in time spent at home by Ontarians during the day.

It’s another way our government is supporting Ontarians who have worked so hard and made sacrifices to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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