Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Greenbelt: a developer challenges the about-face of Doug Ford in court | Greater Toronto: redistricting the Greenbelt

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The Greenbelt in 2022 , in the Golden Horseshoe. (Archives)

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A real estate developer contests in court the constitutionality of the bill which cancels the modifications to the greenbelt. These modifications allowed him to build on land protected by environmental laws.

The Greenbelt is a series of lands included in the Golden Horseshoe, which runs along the shores of Lake Ontario between Oshawa and Niagara Falls. Land within this belt is subject to special environmental protections and real estate development is prohibited. In November 2022, the provincial government announced that 15 parcels of land – approximately 3,000 hectares – would be removed from these protections and development would be permitted.

After heated protests and a series of scandals, Premier Doug Ford reversed course in September 2023 and announced that the zoning changes would be reversed. Since then, the government has introduced, then adopted, Bill 109, which reverses the changes.

However, the owner of one of the 15 affected properties launched a constitutional challenge to Bill 109.

Greater Toronto: Redistricting of the Greenbelt

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Greater Toronto: Redistricting of the Greenbelt

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Minotar's lawyers filed the motion Thursday in Ontario Divisional Court, arguing that the way the law is written violates the constitutional principle of the rule of law.

Lawyers say Bill 109 is invalid because it prevents any government – present or future – from changing the boundaries of the Greenbelt without changing the law. The November 2022 changes were decreed using a regulation.

According to Minotar lawyer Paul Fruitman, laws cannot be subject to judicial review, but regulations can.

They took this action to try to prevent any scrutiny of what they did with the Greenbelt, Fruitman said. What makes this move, in my opinion, utterly odious is that it is undertaken to preserve their successes in politics.

In 2017, Minotar sued the province for $120 million over its land's inclusion in the greenbelt. The company agreed to drop its lawsuit after its plot was removed from the greenbelt last year.

Minotar says having spent $400,000 on pre-development work before the about-face was announced.

A spokesperson for the housing minister did not x27;did not respond to a request for comment.

Minotar wants the court to judicially review how its land was treated. The developers have long argued that their Markham, Ontario property was wrongly included in the Greenbelt.

With information from The Canadian Press

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