Press Release: Peel Council ignores public good, expert recommendations and climate imperative in the approval of a new 2051 Official Plan

Press Release: Peel Council ignores public good, expert recommendations and climate imperative in the approval of a new 2051 Official Plan

Peel Council ignores public good, expert recommendations and climate imperative in the approval of a new 2051 Official Plan

Today, Peel Regional council ignored more than 1,300 emails, letters and delegations from members of the public, a majority who are Peel residents, in opposition to the current scope, targets and timeline of the Official Plan. The approved Official Plan will allow almost 11,000 acres of development onto the Peel Plain of designated Prime Agricultural Land and the Greenbelt. The plan will be submitted months before the July 1st deadline, built upon dated and inaccurate job and population metrics, with Council unconcerned by the impending Provincial election results on June 2nd.

Members of the public, planning and policy experts and environmental groups such as Stop Sprawl Peel asked for the Urban Boundary expansion to be removed, density targets within the current boundary to be correspondingly increased and submission to be delayed until after the June 2nd Provincial election, while still within the July 1st deadline. The first party platform to be released by the Ontario NDP confirmed what was already being heard on the ground – Opposition parties do not support the current 30-year MCR process. This includes the Urban Boundary expansion and Highway 413 cutting through the Region. Council, however, showed no interest to compromise or in any way consider these implications, in stark contrast to the public engagement and corresponding evolution of Official Plans in Hamilton, Halton and underway in Orillia, to remove Urban Boundary Expansions while still meeting Provincial growth requirements. Indeed, the disinterest to so much as delay approval until after the election suggests that the Peel Official Plan consultation was merely a token exercise with the public, while form and function was determined by Council and expedited for developers. In Peel Region, the sprawl facilitated by the Urban Boundary expansion perfectly mirrors the alignment of the proposed Highway 413 – this is no coincidence. With the Official Plan, Council has shown a stunning lack of consistency when it comes to alignment with existing policy (climate, food, transportation, housing), no consideration for public concerns, and a prioritization of developer desires in the short and long-term. The last-minute Council Motions deliberated and mostly approved just before the Official Plan, detailed below, underscore the severity to which the public has been excluded from this critical 30-year plan, and the trust between them which has been shattered.

On the Motions to modify the Official Plan:
The Mayor of Caledon attempted to change the designation of a shocking 35,000 plus acres of Prime Agricultural Lands to a much weaker level of protection under a Rural designation. While staff did not support this last minute assault on the Greenbelt, Council did support the Mayor’s request to convert 96 acres of Prime Agricultural Lands to Rural for the Osprey Valley golf course in Northwest Caledon. This precedent-setting change, without public consultation, is alarming to residents in Caledon as it should be to residents expecting continued protection of Prime Agricultural Land anywhere in Ontario, just like the unpredictable Provincial MZOs. The owners of the golf course have considerable land holdings which play a key role in facilitating a quarry project for the benefit of Votorantim Cimentos, a Brazilian Strip mining company. The blasting quarry has not yet been formally proposed but the community is bracing for impact just north of Cataract village. Considering Council’s opposition to both the Highway 413 and new gravel licenses it was hypocritical to see such a Motion receive unanimous consent.

The Chair of the Planning and Growth Committee, Councillor Parrish, brought forward a Motion of her own, passed by Council, to amend the Official Plan to exclude a property from an Employment area at the Northeast corner of Matheson Blvd West and Mavis Road which is a portion of Heartland Town Centre in the City of Mississauga. While Stop Sprawl Peel supports sustainable development and smart gentle density we do not support back door deals toacquiesce repeated developer requests that exclude the public from proper public procedures and consultation. Like the Motion in Caledon, it sets a precedent for changes to employment lands without consultation or consideration to how they may change population or job forecasts within the Official Plan. Once again Council shows a disregard for their own planning and procedures while pushing forward an Official Plan without delay.

Implications and next steps:
Peel Region is already off-track when it comes to our Greenhouse Gas Emission reduction targets, our waste reduction targets, our affordable housing targets, our Vision Zero targets and our modal split targets, to name but a few – this is true within the individual municipalities as well. The Official Plan presented an opportunity for re-alignment with local and global best practices, thoughtful integration of public concerns and feedback and a re-doubling of efforts, with supportive policy, to meet Municipal and Regional growth policy targets by creating complete communities not car-dependent sprawl. Instead, it repeats the mistakes of the past to perpetuate sprawl, congestion, emissions, local inequities and overall debt for the Region. What has become clear to members of Stop Sprawl Peel, residents across Peel Region and increasingly those watching the story unfold in Ontario, is that the current Council and Provincial Government is not prepared to meet the concerns of present or future generations.

Moving forward, Stop Sprawl Peel will help the public understand the positions of all major parties in the coming Provincial election and candidates in the coming Municipal elections on the fundamental issues which enable sprawl in Peel Region, including within the Official Plan. These issues include: food security and stewardship of farmland and natural spaces, the climate emergency and measures needed to keep warming below 1.5*C, urban sprawl and the car-dependency that comes with it, affordable housing and creating complete communities and democratic systems for a collaborative and accountable government.

Jenni Le Forestier (Stop Sprawl Peel, Stop the 413)
and Rahul Mehta (Stop Sprawl Peel, Sustainable Mississauga)

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Jenni Le Forestier and Rahul Mehta, stopsprawlpeel@gmail.com