Proposed Bill 66: Restoring Ontario's Competitiveness Act threatens our environment, our water, our air, our health.
Bill 66 represents an unprecedented and unacceptable attack on legislative provisions which currently safeguard environmental quality and public health and safety throughout Ontario. Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).
The Ontario government’s recent bombshell of a bill will roll back many of the province’s fundamental water, pollution and environmental protection rules, leaving Ontarians susceptible to a declining quality of life.
Bill 66’s 3 major threats to the province’s environmental legislation include:
- The Greenbelt,
- Clean water and
- Protections from toxic chemicals.
Bill 66 opens up Ontario’s Greenbelt for factory, retail and residential development, undermines drinking water protection rules and guts rules that help industry reduce the release of toxic chemicals. At a time when Ontarians need forward-thinking government action, Bill 66 basically takes us back 40 years.
On December 6, 2018, Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, was announced by the Government of Ontario and underwent first reading at the Legislature.
If enacted, this Bill would repeal the Toxics Reduction Act (schedule 5) and amend multiple provincial statutes, including the Planning Act (schedule 10). Under Schedule 10 of Bill 66, municipalities can pass "Open for Business" planning by-laws aimed at attracting new major development. This includes a new section, 34.1, which will allow municipalities to create a new type of zoning by-law, called an “Open-for-business planning by-law” (“OFB-ZBL”). An OFB-ZBL, as set out in Bill 66, represents a new zoning power for municipalities.
These bylaws are exempt from public notice, comment and appeal provisions in the Planning Act. Moreover, these bylaws are automatically exempt from key environmental protection laws, plans and policies, including the Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Protection Act, Lake Simcoe Protection Act, Metrolinx Act, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, Ontario Planning Development Act, Places to Grow Act, Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act. Read more here.
To clarify: Proposed MMAH/Planning Act changes in Bill 66 allows municipalities, with ministerial approval, to pass “Open For Business” bylaws that allow municipalities to override the above-noted laws.
About Schedule 5: Toxins Reduction Act (TRA)
Please read the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)'s Submissions on Bill 66, Schedule 5 (TRA Repeal). It covers in great detail why getting rid of the TRA is a terrible idea.
What the Ford Government says:
The government is arguing that they need Bill 66 and the Open for Business by-law it will authorize to make it more possible to designate lands that are currently protected for new factories, stores or residential development. This is false.
Employment lands are normally located within an urban or town boundary close to infrastructure that can support businesses such as water, sewers, internet and a good road network. Allowing employment uses (like factories or big box stores) anywhere in the province, as the open for business bylaw would allow, will put a huge burden on municipalities and utilities to provide services and upgrade roads in addition to the potential loss of farmland, and environmental impacts. These services are expensive and building them will cause property tax increases and make it even harder to build public transit.
As part of the Ontario government’s housing consultation, the province is asking whether there should be more flexibility regarding the conversion of existing employment lands in urban areas to residential development. Some municipalities have identified surplus lands for new employment uses. In cities like Kitchener and Hamilton where factories have shut down there may be an excess of serviced employment land near new transit lines where conversion makes sense. In some newer greenfield communities, developers own unserviced employment lands they want to build subdivisions on.
It’s important for municipalities to do the analysis to understand if there is enough employment land for complete communities or an excess of land. The Growth Plan employment land policies move us towards complete communities where people can live, work and play. If conversion of employment lands proceeds as part of the housing reforms that come out of the current provincial consultation underway, municipalities may be permitted to rezone employment uses approved under the Open for Business bylaw to residential.
As a result there is no demand or need for new lands to be designated for “business” on the Greenbelt, in the Lake Simcoe watershed or on the Oak Ridges Moraine. We can just use the surplus employment lands in towns and cities across the region.
Finally, the province already has the power to override local planning rules to designate land for development if they want to use it. This power is called a Minister’s zoning order (MZO). By proposing that the new “Open for Business bylaw” be implemented by municipalities the province is trying to distance itself from the scrutiny, criticism and accountability that would normally be directed at them if they had they used the MZO. It also increases the number of likely development proposals that will come forward as the development industry is very influential and often funds election campaigns at the municipal level.
Breaking the promise not to open up the Greenbelt, Lake Simcoe Watershed, the Oak Ridges Moraine and source water protection areas to new development shows a fundamental disrespect to voters. The health of our region depends on valuing our farms, forests, clean water sources and nature and building robust and vibrant communities.
Environment Hamilton invites you to join the #NixBill66 Campaign and make your opposition to this Bill heard. Here’s what you can do:
- Submit comments on the proposed bill and associated changes through the Environmental Registry for Ontario (ERO postings were previously referred to as EBR postings) until January 20th.
To access the Environmental Registry for Ontario visit https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4293
Register an account in your name (top right-hand corner).
You will be commenting on Bill 66 as well as Schedule 5 and Schedule 10.
- Make your comments to the overarching Bill 66 by clicking on the comment button, on the left-hand side of the page. https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4293
- Scroll down the page to get to Schedule 5: Repeal the Toxics Reduction Act. There are two postings. Please comment on both. (ERO # 013-4234) and (ERO # 013-4235).
Now scroll down to Schedule 10 Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Click on "Proposed open-for-business planning tool" (ERO # 013-4125) and comment.
Click on "New Regulation under the Planning Act for Open-for-Business Planning Tool (ERO # 013-4239).
**To keep things manageable, feel free to use the same set of comments for each posting.**
Need help to formulate your comments? Check out Ontario Nature's BILL 66: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW facts.
We have compiled a one-pager for you to share. Please use this link.
Other Actions you can Take
- Pick up a lawn sign from our office
- Connect with your MPP and voice your concern. Find your MPP with this handy tool, thanks to Environmental Defence https://www.stopbill66.ca/
- Stay tuned for part 2 of the campaign to get the City of Hamilton to pass a resolution to reject Bill 66
- Sign up to receive updates and to help with other actions/efforts yet to come
- Visit our website for updates and news:https://www.environmenthamilton.org/take_action
Now more than ever, we need to come together to NIX BILL 66 in order to save the Greenbelt and defend our drinking water.
How to talk to your MPP or Municipal Councillor about Bill 66
(with thanks from the David Suzuki Foundation)
Introduce yourself (i.e., I am a mother, student, new Canadian, teacher, farmer, etc.).
Make a personal connection by explaining why the Greenbelt, Lake Simcoe, source water protection, Oak Ridges Moraine is important to you. Consider sharing your fears, hopes or vision. Some of these values may be shared.
- Make your concerns local. Why is this important for your community in particular? Is it a farming community? How does your family/community benefit, or what is the threat? A sprawling city is a shrinking Greenbelt. If you live in a municipality that wants growth beyond its boundaries talk about how low density growth doesn’t pay its way. More sprawl means higher taxes and more municipal debt.
- Ask your MPP to vote against Bill 66. Ask your municipal councillor to adopt the resolution to stop Bill 66 and not use the open for business planning bylaw.(See below)
Talking Points for Phone Calls and Meetings with MPPs :
- Ontarians care deeply about the Greenbelt, Lake Simcoe, the Oak Ridges Moraine and clean water. It is home to farmland, forests, watersheds and wetlands. The Oak Ridges Moraine is the rainbarrel of Ontario providing drinking water to over 250,000 Ontarians and feeding many river and streams that flow into Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe.
The Greenbelt is also economically important. Agriculture in the Greater Golden Horseshoe employes 38,000 people and gross output of farms is $11 billion, that’s $1.7 billion in tax revenue for all three levels of government. The Greenbelt provides $3.2B annually in services to the region, such as recreational activities and flood protection. It was created in 2005 to deliberately limit the rapid urban sprawl that was encroaching on land that is both environmentally and economically significant.
The Greenbelt has the capacity to store as much carbon dioxide as would be emitted by 33 million cars a year. Interfering with that crucial ecosystem means missing out on a chance to reduce our emissions and meet climate targets.
Greenbelt development is unnecessary for economic development. A recent Neptis Foundation study found more than 125,000 hectares of land in the GTA is currently available to accommodate growth through to 2031 and beyond. If the province wants to allow a new business in Ontario they already have a tool for that, The Minister’s zoning order, they don’t need to allow municipalities to bypass environmental and health rules meant to protect us.
Bill 66 exempts developers from rules that are crucial to protecting human health.
For example, it undermines the Clean Water Act, which protects people from tragedies like the one that happened in Walkerton, where water contamination led to 7 deaths and thousands of cases of severe illness. The bill threatens vital water sources for Ontarians, including Lake Simcoe and the Great Lakes. It also repeals the Toxics Reduction Act meant to reduce pollution by preventing industrial uses of certain toxic chemicals.
Your government did not get elected on this platform. After hearing from Ontarians that they did not want to see the Greenbelt threatened by development, your government wisely promised not to touch that land. Now, Ontarians want to see that commitment fulfilled.
- According to a 2016 Nanos poll, 9 out of 10 Ontarians believe the province has a responsibility to ensure a healthy environment for all.By threatening both air and water quality, Bill 66 clearly violates that right.
- As a municipal councillor, you have the power to stop the provincial government from interfering in local decision-making. Bill 66 imposes the provincial government’s political agenda on municipal decisions. By adopting a resolution not to use the Open for Business planning bylaw your municipality can send a clear message to your constituents and the province that you support business development but not at the expense of the environment.
MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACTION
USE YOUR RIGHTS UNDER OUR PROVINCIAL ENVIRONMENTAL BILL OF RIGHTS
Did you know that Ontario has an Environmental Bill of Rights? Environment Hamilton regularly comments on postings on the provincial Environmental Bill of Rights Registry - and we encourage other community members to do the same!
Here are some current opportunities to comment on environmentally significant provincial proposals:
1. Comment on the Ford Government's Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan - This is the long-awaited plan that is supposed to replace the provincial Climate Action Plan that was being implemented by the previous Liberal Government. To access the plan and the environmental registry comment page CLICK HERE. Comment deadline is January 28th, 2019.
Attend a Workshop or a Volunteering Event
See our Events Page for upcoming events. Past events have included:
- nature workshops (e.g. bees, trees, lichens),
- tours of eco-friendly buildings or local farms,
- green space clean-ups and planting events,
- biking or walking air quality audits,
- Hamilton industrial pollution crawls, and
- extreme weather resiliency workshops.
We are grateful for the financial support we receive from partners and individuals. It allows us to further expand our efforts towards a healthier Hamilton, whether it's increasing the number of air-cleaning trees in the city, beautifying and increasing safety in your neighbourhood alleys, or advocating for reducing pollution. Click on the Donate Button to the left.
Join our membership. We are a community of passionate like-minded people. Click the Join button to the left to stay informed of current issues in Hamilton and receive invitations to participate in specific Environment Hamilton events or projects via facebook, twitter, or email. The more people who know about the issues in their city and neighbourhoods, the greater the strength we have for change and improvement.
We can't do our work without you! We have opportunities for you to volunteer at events, on field projects, or in the office. Click here for a summary of our projects. Apply by clicking on the Volunteer button to the left. Feel free to invite a friend to volunteer with you! We welcome high school students needing to complete service hours and other service projects too.
Get involved in our current projects:
- Bicycle Air Monitoring
- Energy Benchmarking for Faith Communities
- Friendly Streets Hamilton
- Good Food Box
- The Lighthouse Project
- Mind How You GROW
- Pollinator Paradise Project
- Trees Please
In all the ways you choose to participate, your support is vital to working towards a city that is a carbon-neutral community with secure local food sources, sustainable transportation, and healthy, clean air, water and land.
Thank you for being part of Environment Hamilton. Together we will work to make Hamilton a cleaner, greener, healthy place to live!
Lynda Lukasik, PhD
Executive Director, Environment Hamilton
And the Environment Hamilton Staff and Board of Directors