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‘We heard you loud and clear on Bill 66,’ Premier Doug Ford assures rural Ontario municipalities  

The premier, who was joined at the conference by many ministers and MPPs, stressed his government is “here to listen to you.” “That’s why we repealed the Green Energy Act — to help local communities have a say on energy projects in their municipalities,” Ford said of the previous Liberal government’s polarizing legislation on siting wind turbines and solar projects. “Today local communities have final say on these local planning decisions,” he said.

Credit:  By Robert Benzie, Queen's Park Bureau Chief | The Star | Mon., Jan. 28, 2019 | www.thestar.com ~~

The Progressive Conservatives’ retreat on controversial new planning legislation proves the government will listen to municipalities, says Premier Doug Ford.

Speaking to the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association conference in Toronto on Monday, Ford said last week’s cancellation of a contentious section of Bill 66 is significant.

“We heard you loud and clear on Bill 66,” the premier told about 1,000 rural mayors, reeves, and councillors from across the province at the Sheraton Centre convention.

“I always say we’re here to listen – this is proof of listening,” Ford said during a 12-minute speech in which he dismissed Toronto as a “bubble” and noted he likes to “talk to the real people” in rural Ontario.

After much criticism, Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark last Wednesday axed the one-paragraph schedule 10 to the bill that would amend the Planning Act to allow municipalities to bypass existing development requirements and restrictions for companies promising to create 50 or more jobs.

Projects could have been granted expedited provincial approvals within one year, allowing businesses to begin construction.

Critics had warned that would have put prime farmland and the 1.8-million acre Greenbelt around the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area at risk of development.

Ford assured rural civic leaders that was not the intention of the omnibus legislation that was hastily introduced before the house rose for Christmas.

“Of course – I want to emphasize this – we would never approve any projects at the expense of the Greenbelt, water quality or public health. It just wouldn’t happen,” the premier said.

“But, as Minister Clark recently announced, we will not proceed with schedule 10 of the bill,” he said.

“We are committed to cutting red tape in a way that protects workers and protects the environment and eliminates waste and we will make sure our legislation does exactly that.”

The premier, who was joined at the conference by many ministers and MPPs, stressed his government is “here to listen to you.”

“That’s why we repealed the Green Energy Act – to help local communities have a say on energy projects in their municipalities,” Ford said of the previous Liberal government’s polarizing legislation on siting wind turbines and solar projects.

“Today local communities have final say on these local planning decisions,” he said.

The premier also announced that Clark and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney would soon begin province-wide consultations on municipalities’ liability.

“We have heard your concerns about increasing insurance costs and the impact that these costs and settlements can have on property taxes and municipal taxpayers,” said Ford.

“We’ve heard your concerns about the ‘liability chill’ preventing everyday activities in your municipalities, like tobogganing and street hockey,” he said.

“We need to make sure that vulnerable injured people are fairly compensated. We’ll need to look at the evidence and develop solutions that make sense.”

Source:  By Robert Benzie, Queen's Park Bureau Chief | The Star | Mon., Jan. 28, 2019 | www.thestar.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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