One of the biggest policy issues of 2022 that will continue to be an issue in 2023 is Bill 23. The negative impacts of this bill are going to be far reaching, from farmland and natural areas, to municipal tax rates and housing affordability. On the positive side, this bill has also prompted an unprecedented level of public opposition and has spurred significant collaboration between organizations and businesses across diverse sectors in Ontario.
Over 125 organizations came together to sign on to a joint letter opposing Bill 23, and many of these organizations also put forth their own policy submissions opposing the bill, including OFT. However, the really inspiring action this bill prompted has been from members of the public. From November 15th-December 13th, over 85 rallies against Bill 23 and in support of the Greenbelt were held across the province1, which is some truly amazing collective action!
In 2020, the Greenbelt Foundation undertook an online survey that showed that 84% of Ontarians consider the Greenbelt a source of pride for Ontario2, and rightfully so. The formation of Ontario’s Greenbelt was a ground-breaking piece of legislation, and set Ontario up as a leader in conservation. Unfortunately, with the recent amendments to the Greenbelt’s boundaries, important agricultural land will be removed and open for development. Along with massive public outcry, Ontario’s Liberal, NDP, and Green Parties have formally asked that the Auditor General of Ontario investigate the government’s decision to remove land protections for thousands of hectares that were previously protected in the Greenbelt3, including the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve. OFT is optimistic that a show of unity like this will spark conversation about how effective the removal of this land from the Greenbelt will be at addressing the provincial housing crisis.
We know the fight for Ontario’s farmland and natural areas will continue in the new year, but we also know that Ontarians are willing to fight for it alongside us. Thank you for taking action, you have inspired us!