While a debate at the council table won’t come until next month, Brock Township Mayor Debbie Bath-Hadden has taken a stand against provincial bill that critics fear will have an impact on the environment.
Bill 66, dubbed the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, would amend several pieces of legislation in an attempt to spur economic development and create new jobs.
A report from Deputy Clerk Becky Jamieson that was received by council this week noted that many of the changes will have little impact on the municipality, other than those proposed for the Planning Act.
Mayor Bath-Hadden agreed.
“There’s a huge implication to the planning side with Bill 66,” she said.
As it stands, Bill 66 would grant municipalities the authority to pass an open-for-business bylaw that could fast-track development that leads employment opportunities with provincial approval.
These bylaws would not have to conform to several pieces of planning legislation (such as the Provincial Policy Statement, Growth Plan, official plans) and are also exempt from certain provisions of environmental protection laws (such as the Clean Water Act, the Great Lakes Protection Act, the Greenbelt Act, the Lake Simcoe Protection Act).
“I find it absolutely mortifying that we’ve been asked to look at a bill that could supersede environmental protection legislation,” Mayor Bath-Hadden said.
Members of council aren’t expected to receive a report from staff until February, missing the Province’s deadline for municipal input.
Also on the agenda for Monday night’s meeting was a letter from the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition and the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition that urged members of council to make a public commitment that the legislation would not employed locally.
“Our coalitions stand behind these protective policies and their implementation because we know that local economies and the public’s health rely on them. For example, Lake Simcoe contributes $200 million per year to its regional economy,” the letter reads.
The Clean Water Act, which was a direct to the tragedies in Walkerton, ensures that drinking water sources for Ontarians are free from contamination. We appreciate the need for economic opportunities, but we strongly believe that economic opportunities do not have to come at the expense of our drinking water, lakes or green spaces.”
For more information on Bill 66, click HERE.