TO: All OPERA Member FROM: Bob Fowler DATE: July 1, 2004
Since our Apr.24th Peterborough general meeting the current Queen’s Park government has recommended 4 initiatives that adversely affect rural Ontario in general & private property ownership in particular. These are: Panel Report of the Role of Government, Drinking Water Regulations, Bill 26 (Planning Act) & Bill 27 (Greenbelt Act). OPERA’s response to these 4 issues over the past 2 months, summarized below & covered in related enclosures, has delayed other activities as well as preparation/circulation of our Apr.24 Minutes.
Panel Report: 101 pages, www.law-lib.utoronto.ca/investing/panel_report.htm suggests closing down rural Ontario over next 15 to 30 years as noted Apr.21 in the National Post article. Endorsed by Premier McGuinty & his caucus. OPERA mailed enclosed advisory to 175 rural Ontario councils.
Water Regulation 170/03: requires all rural community facilities offering public drinking water to upgrade pump equipment to a prescribed standard even if their present water supply tests OK Enclosed church letter reflects OPERA input to widespread 170/03 rural protest.
Bill 26: June/04 proposed sweeping changes in OMB legislation (i.e. Cabinet can overrule any OMB decision) & Provincial Policy Statement (i.e. development not permitted on lands adjacent to ANSI, wildlife habitat, wetlands, etc.) are included in this new Planning Act. OPERA attended day Workshops & evening public meetings to represent landowner interests. Closing date for comment is Aug.31. All member groups urged to request copy of relevant B-26 documents & submit independent comment prior to that date.
Bill 27: May/04 Greenbelt interim prohibition (i.e. freezes development on a million acres of land between Lake Scugog, Oak Ridges Moraine & Niagara Escarpment until Dec./04) & precedes 2005 confirming legislation/regulations. OPERA presented enclosed Brief on May 31 & attended day Workshops as well as evening public meetings to represent landowner interests. Closing date for comment is July 16. All member groups urged to request copy of relevant Greenbelt documents & submit independent comment prior to that date.
PANEL REPORT NOTES:
Although not yet incorporated into legislation, this document is a wake-up call for all municipal authorities & private landowners in Ontario. Among the 50 odd participants who obviously influenced its final draft are some of the most militant special interest groups & Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s) that routinely promote, directly or indirectly, centralized state control by regulation.
DRINKING WATER REGULATIONS:
Always citing Walkerton’s contaminated water (a toxic brew generated entirely & only by municipal ineptitude combined with provincial supervisory neglect) the Ontario Ministry of Environment control pendulum is now swinging into the stratosphere. Apart from demanding that rural community facilities either conform to one-standard-fits-all drinking water dictates or close down, reports of coming MOE harassment - universal septic system legislation, a metre on every water well, fenced rivers & streams, wildlife trumps human species, etc. - now abound in the land
PLANNING ACT NOTES:
Municipal officials & private landowners alike should carefully study newly minted the Provincial Policy Statement before turning to the newly minted Planning Act reforms. The latter document now requires that municipal Official Plans “shall be consistent with” provincial policy, not “shall have regard for” as previously prescribed. This significant change returns us to the precise language & ensuing rigidities that Bob Rae’s NDP government originally inserted into the provincial Planning Act.
No Greenbelt public meetings were convened north of Hwy .9 despite written appeal for same from an OPERA member (see enclosed GDG material) on grounds that 60% of Niagara Escarpment is located in Bruce & Grey counties where even tighter Greenbelt land use control than current Escarpment prohibitions can be expected. Review of Bills 26 & 27 in combination raises spectre of development control & other devices by which private property on the Niagara Escarpment has been transferred to the state by regulation without compensation. Indeed, however concealed in warm, fuzzy, conservation rhetoric, the so-called Greenbelt initiative is, like its Oak Ridges Moraine counterpart, simply a cloned version of Escarpment prohibitions as invented & enforced by unaccountable bureaucrats for ‘lo these many years. Will all of Ontario one day succumb to this rising tide of land control at the whim or impulse of an omnipotent state? Place your bets!
“to protect, and entrench in law, private landowner rights and responsibilities”