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In December, 2003 the Ontario government authorized a “study” of almost two million acres of land, much of it privately owned, located north of Toronto between Lake Simcoe on the east and the Niagara peninsula on the west.
Entitled “An Act to establish a Greenbelt Study Area and to amend the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act 2001”, this initiative contemplated strict provincial control of that vast area thus eventually affecting its collateral worth and market value. A so-called Draft Plan was produced in October this year although its official enactment is pre-scheduled for December 16. In the interim, a government-selected Task Force convened a series of Workshops and public meetings ostensibly to seek communal opinion on the need, concept and feasibility of the entire program.
Militant lobby groups support this sweeping exercise in state control of private assets and often join with powerful Queen’s Park bureaucrats and well-paid private sector advisors in dominating its public consultation process. In attempting to level the playing field in this debate, the Ontario Property and Environmental Rights Alliance (OPERA) commissioned a review of Greenbelt objectives and likely consequences from the perspective of private landowners and rural municipalities who will pay a heavy price for what is being merchandised as “progressive” land use legislation.
A copy of our Greenbelt Background Discussion Paper is enclosed. It covers a number of issues and concerns summarized below. In our view, these have not been thoroughly, much less satisfactorily, addressed neither in official Greenbelt documents nor in any of the Workshops and public forums that preceded them.
(1) many dedicated Greenbelt supporters have no personal financial investment or legal title in rural lands for which they so forcefully claim “stakeholder” status.
(2) as primary stakeholders, owners of rural lands targeted for Greenbelt designation
are seldom mentioned and their common law property rights never acknowledged.
(3) the legislation awards dictatorial powers to the Minister of Municipal Affairs but
denies landowner compensation for entire or partial “takings” of private property.
(4) Greenbelt manipulation of property values represents a massive re-distribution of wealth and shrinks the tax base of rural municipalities within the designated area.
(5) the legislation provides no cost/benefit analysis and, in usual government fashion, is presented without related Regulations where “the devil is in the details”.
OPERA remarks at Greenbelt meetings in Caledon and Burlington are also enclosed.