The York Regional Council took a significant step toward allowing development on a large chunk of the area's greenbelt—a move opponents say will set a dangerous precedent.
On Oct. 28, York Regional Council — the political body that includes mayors and regional representatives of nine municipalities just north of Toronto, including Markham and Vaughan— voted 13 to 5 in favour of Regional Official Plan Amendment 7, which proposed to change the designation of 1,400 acres of Greenbelt lands from agricultural to rural.
While four mayors voted to approve the amendment, Syed reports that local councilmembers from cities represented by those mayors oppose the development of the greenbelt. Supporting the amendment, however, are development interests with connections to Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative party. Ford ran for office on a platform that included a proposal to relax the boundaries of the Toronto Greenbelt for development.
Supporters of urban growth boundaries (another term for greenbelts) argue that the land use regulation tool is necessary as an antidote to sprawl. Opponents say fringe development can provide relief to expensive housing markets. In recent years, urban growth boundaries have emerged as a wildfire risk mitigation tool in cities located at the wildland-urban interface.
The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing must still approve the amendment before it can take effect, reports Syed.
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