Transcript: The Greenbelt Controversy | Jan 07, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit and shirt, and a spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Trouble in Ontario's greenbelt. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says TWO COMPETING INTERESTS IN OUR PROVINCE COLLIDED FEROCIOUSLY LAST MONTH. THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT IS DESPERATE TO GET RID OF REGULATIONS THAT THEY SAY INHIBIT NEW HOME CONSTRUCTION FOR ALL THE PEOPLE WHO NEED NEW HOMES. AT THE SAME TIME, MANY ARE CONCERNED THAT THAT NOT RESULT IN ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE TO THE GREENBELT... AT 2 MILLION ACRES IN THE GREATER GOLDEN HORSESHOE, IT'S THE WORLD'S LARGEST PROTECTED AREA OF FARMLAND, FORESTS, WETLANDS, RIVERS, AND LAKES. THE CONFRONTATION CAME TO SUCH A HEAD THAT THE CHAIR OF THE PROVINCE'S GREENBELT ADVISORY COUNCIL AND SIX OTHER MEMBERS RESIGNED EN MASSE LAST MONTH. LET'S FIND OUT WHY, AS WE WELCOME: IN THE DUFFERIN GROVE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL: FORMER TORONTO MAYOR DAVID CROMBIE WHO, AS MENTIONED, RESIGNED AS CHAIR OF THE GREENBELT COUNCIL LAST MONTH...

David is in his early eighties, clean-shaven, with short, receding white hair. He's wearing glasses, a black sweater and a white shirt.

Steve continues IN THE CENTRAL-EASTERN ONTARIO TOWNSHIP OF DOURO DUMMER: DAVE WILKES, PRESIDENT AND CEO, BUILDING INDUSTRY AND LAND DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION...

Dave is in his fifties, clean-shaven and bald. He's wearing glasses, a blue suit and a black sweater.

Steve continues AND IN VAUGHAN, ONTARIO: NOOR JAVED, REPORTER AT THE TORONTO STAR COVERING 905 MUNICIPAL POLITICS...

Noor is in her thirties. She's wearing a patterned gray hijab and a purple sweater.

Steve continues IT'S GREAT TO WELCOME YOU THREE TO OUR AIRWAVES TONIGHT. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYBODY. I WANT TO JUST START BY BRINGING UP A MAP AND I'LL DESCRIBE THIS IN SOME DETAIL FOR THOSE WHO ARE LISTENING ON PODCAST, BUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THE GREENBELT, HERE IS WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.

A satellite view of Toronto and its surrounding areas pops up, highlighting the surface covered by the Greenbelt all around Toronto and Hamilton, over to Saint Catharines and stretching northwest of Toronto.

Steve continues THIS SWATH OF LAND THAT STARTS ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF LAKE ONTARIO AND WRAPS AROUND HAMILTON, GOING FURTHER EAST AROUND THE EXTERIOR, THE SORT OF BELT OF RIDINGS AROUND THE EXTERIOR OF THE 416, IN THROUGH THE 905, EXTENDS ALMOST HALFWAY ACROSS LAKE ONTARIO TO THE EAST AND UP TOWARDS GEORGIAN BAY AND THE BRUCE PENINSULA TO THE NORTHWEST. THAT'S THE GREENBELT. YOU HEARD ME DESCRIBE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF IT IN THE PROVINCE. AND DAVID CROMBIE, I WANT TO START WITH YOU FIRST BECAUSE YOU'VE BEEN INVOLVED IN THE PUBLIC AFFAIRS OF THIS CITY, PROVINCE, AND COUNTRY FOR MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY. LET ME PUT IT THIS WAY: WHEN A GUY LIKE YOU RESIGNS FROM AN IMPORTANT POSITION LIKE THE ONE YOU HAD, A LOT OF PEOPLE TAKE NOTICE. WHAT HAPPENED THAT PROMPTED NOT ONLY YOUR RESIGNATION BUT THAT OF SIX OF YOUR COLLEAGUES ON THE GREENBELT COUNCIL?

The caption changes to "David Crombie. Former Greenbelt Council Chair."
Then, it changes again to "Mass resignations."

David says AT THE END OF THE LEGISLATIVE SEASON JUST BEFORE CHRISTMAS, THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT, IN A MONEY BILL, BROUGHT IN SOME CHANGES IN SCHEDULE 6, AS THEY CALLED IT, CHANGES TO THE WAY IN WHICH THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES OF ONTARIO WOULD WORK, AND MANY OF THOSE CHANGES HAD THE EFFECT IN OUR JUDGMENT AND THE JUDGMENT OF MANY OTHERS OF LIMITING THE WAY IN WHICH THE AUTHORITIES WOULD GO ABOUT THEIR JOB AND INDEED WOULD UNDERMINE THEIR ABILITY TO CARRY OUT THEIR HISTORIC WORK. THEY'VE BEEN IN BUSINESS SINCE 1946, AND THEY WERE BROUGHT IN AT THE SAME TIME AS THE PLANNING ACT. IT'S WORTH NOTING THAT BECAUSE LAND USE PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING IN THIS PROVINCE WERE BROUGHT TOGETHER IN 1946 BY THOSE ACTS AND BY A CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT, I MIGHT SAY. SO IT STRIKES ME... THE IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS THAT WE HAVE IN ONTARIO A UNIQUE BODY KNOWN AS THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES. THEY DON'T HAVE THEM ANYWHERE ELSE IN NORTH AMERICA. AND THEIR JOB IS TO LOOK AFTER THE NATURAL HERITAGE OF THIS PROVINCE. THEY ARE THE GUARDIANS. AND SO THEREFORE WHEN YOU TRY AND CHANGE THE WAY IN WHICH IT WORKS... AND THEY NEED TO CHANGE FROM TIME TO TIME... YOU HAVE TO BE REALLY CAREFUL. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY DUMPED A WHOLE BUNCH OF AMENDMENTS ON THE VERY LAST DAY ON THE COMMITTEE. SO VERY FEW PEOPLE HAD A CHANCE TO LOOK AT IT. SO WE TOOK THE POSITION AND SAID SO TO THE MINISTER IN OUR NORMAL WAY, THROUGH A LETTER, THAT WE WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF THEY WOULD NOT CONTINUE WITH SCHEDULE 6 AND PUT IT OUT FOR BETTER DISCUSSION AND BETTER REVIEW. THEY CHOSE NOT TO DO THAT. SO IT SEEMED TO ME THAT THE STRUGGLE THAT WAS GOING TO BE ON WAS THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING IN THE PROVINCE, NOT JUST IN THE GREENBELT, IN THE PROVINCE, BECAUSE IT IS CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES THAT ARE AFFECTED. SO IT SEEMED TO ME THE BEST WAY I COULD GO ABOUT IT, SINCE I WAS NOT MAKING ANY HEADWAY NOR WAS THE COUNCIL MAKING ANY HEADWAY WORKING ON THE INSIDE, AT LEAST IN MY JUDGMENT AND OUR JUDGMENT, IT WAS BETTER FOR ME TO RESIGN AND CARRY ON THE STRUGGLE WITH THE GOVERNMENT AS A CITIZEN.

Steve says OKAY. FAIR ENOUGH. DAVE WILKES, LET ME GET YOU TO FOLLOW UP ON THAT BY ASKING: DO YOU SHARE MR. CROMBIE'S CONCERN THAT THIS SCHEDULE 6 OF BILL 229 WAS IN FACT, TO USE HIS WORD, UNDERMINING THE POTENTIAL PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE GREENBELT?

The caption changes to "Dave Wilkes. Building Industry and Land Development Association."

Dave says NO. FIRST OFF, STEVE, THANKS VERY MUCH FOR JOINING. I'M REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE DISCUSSION WITH MR. CROMBIE. CERTAINLY SOMEBODY I'VE ADMIRED THROUGH THE YEARS, AND HIS ROLE AS THE FIRST CHANCELLOR OF RYERSON WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME AS A STUDENT AND A VOLUNTEER. SO MR. CROMBIE, IT'S A PLEASURE TO BE HERE AND, NOOR, I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHATTING AS WELL SINCE WE SPOKE OVER THE PHONE. STEVE, SIMPLY PUT, NO, WE DON'T. LET ME ADDRESS THE GREENBELT FIRST. OUR ASSOCIATION POSITION IS THAT THE GREENBELT IS OFF THE TABLE. IT DOES PLAY THE UNIQUE AND VALUED ROLE THAT YOU HAD MENTIONED OFF THE TOP. AND WE ALSO HAVE HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR FROM THIS GOVERNMENT THAT THE GREENBELT IS OFF THE TABLE AND THAT THE ROLE AND SIZE OF THAT VERY IMPORTANT, SIGNIFICANT LAND FEATURE IN OUR PROVINCE WILL REMAIN AS IT CURRENTLY IS. SO I THINK WE CAN SET ASIDE CONCERNS ABOUT THE GREENBELT AND THE AMENDMENTS THAT THE GOVERNMENT MADE IN THE BILL THAT MR. CROMBIE SPOKE ABOUT. AND I ALSO DO BELIEVE THAT BILL 229 AND SCHEDULE 6, AND THAT'S A LOT OF TECHNICAL TERMS, BUT SCHEDULE 6 DOES RELATE TO THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITY'S ROLE. THEY HAD NOT... THAT ROLE, THOSE GUIDELINES HAD NOT BEEN UPDATED SINCE 1990, AND DAVID'S RIGHT, THEY HAVE BEEN IN PLACE FOR A LONG TIME. AND BECAUSE OF THAT, THERE HAD BEEN VARIOUS INTERPRETATIONS ON HOW THE IMPORTANT WORK OF THE CAs WOULD BE UNDERTAKEN. THERE'S BEEN VARIATIONS AND AN INTERPRETATION OF THAT WORK ACROSS THE 36 CAs IN THE PROVINCE, AND WE'VE SEEN CHANGES AND DIFFERENCES THAT HAD LED TO DUPLICATION, THAT LED TO WORK THAT WASN'T THE CORE PRIORITY OF THE CAs BEING UNDERTAKEN BY THEM. SO WE WERE SUPPORTIVE OF THE FOCUS THAT THE BILL PROVIDED TO ENSURE THAT THE CAs' WORK WAS ON THOSE AREAS THAT THEY WERE INTENDED TO BE UNDERTAKING WHEN THEY WERE ESTABLISHED AROUND NATURAL HAZARDS. WE ALSO SUPPORT THE WORK OF THE CAs. WE HAVE GREAT PARTNERSHIPS WITH MANY OF THE CAs ACROSS THE PROVINCE AND THEY DO PROVIDE A VITAL ROLE IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, BUT WE DO THINK THAT THE BILL PROVIDES CLARITY ON WHAT THAT ROLE SHOULD BE.

Steve says THIS IS WHERE I BRING NOOR IN BECAUSE SHE HAS BEEN REPORTING ON THIS FOR THE TORONTO STAR, AND I ASK HER... I'M NOT ASKING YOU TO BE THE REFEREE TO BREAK THE TIE HERE, BUT YOU'VE BEEN REPORTING ON THIS, AND WHAT HAS EMERGED FROM THIS STORY THAT YOU THINK HAS CAPTURED YOUR ATTENTION?

The caption changes to "Noor Javed. Toronto Star."

Noor says WELL, THERE ARE MANY, MANY THINGS ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON THAT HAS CAPTURED MY ATTENTION AND THE ATTENTION OF I THINK RESIDENTS AND THE PUBLIC. I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I HAVE SEEN IS THAT PEOPLE HAVE FELT, NOT THROUGH JUST THE CA PROCESS BUT THROUGH SOMETHING CALLED MINISTERIAL ZONING ORDERS WHICH HAD STARTED BACK EARLIER THIS YEAR, THAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS REALLY ISSUING PLANNING APPLICATIONS... APPROVING THEM WITHOUT THE PUBLIC'S INVOLVEMENT, WITHOUT NOTIFICATION, AND THAT'S REALLY WHEN I STARTED TO NOTICE... PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT'S GOING ON. AND THAT IS JUST ONE PART OF ALL THESE CHANGES TO THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES ACT THAT MAYBE WE'LL TALK ABOUT MORE. BUT THAT'S REALLY WHAT I'VE NOTICED: THAT THE PUBLIC, AND EVEN MANY MUNICIPALITIES AND ELECTED OFFICIALS, ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE WAY THAT THINGS ARE GOING BECAUSE, NUMBER ONE, THE PUBLIC IS NOT REALLY IN THE PICTURE, AND NUMBER TWO, MUNICIPALITIES FEEL THAT THEY'RE STARTING TO LOSE CONTROL OF THE PLANNING PROCESS AND THE PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT. SO THAT'S REALLY WHAT I'VE BEEN TRYING TO FOCUS ON. AND WHERE THE PUBLIC I FEEL IS REALLY GETTING INVOLVED.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says OKAY, GOOD. LET ME PICK UP ON THAT. THESE MZOs, MINISTERIAL ZONING ORDERS, AND I'LL ASK DAVID CROMBIE THIS QUESTION BECAUSE YOU ARE A FORMER CABINET MINISTER SO PLEASE BRING THAT BACKGROUND TO THE ANSWER OF THIS QUESTION, WHICH IS: DO YOU BELIEVE THEY GIVE THE MINISTER OF MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS AND HOUSING TOO MUCH POWER TO DO WHAT HE WANTS IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES?

The caption changes to "Heart of the story."

David says I THINK SO, BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, I'M WILLING TO BE PROVEN ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. FIRST OF ALL... NOT TO BE IN THE WEEDS AGAIN... BUT MINISTERIAL ZONING ORDERS HAVE BEEN PART OF THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES WORLD FOR A VERY, VERY LONG TIME. IT COMES FROM SECTION 47 OF THE PLANNING ACT OF 1946. SO IT'S BEEN WITH US A VERY LONG TIME. BUT THE BIG DIFFERENCE WAS THAT IT WAS ALWAYS USED IN A SPARING WAY. IT WAS USED FOR VERY, VERY IMPORTANT THINGS THAT WERE USUALLY OF A MINOR NATURE BUT HOLDING BACK A BIG PUBLIC BENEFIT. AND INDEED FOR YEARS AND YEARS, YOU PROBABLY HAD TWO, MAYBE FOUR, UP TO FIVE OR SIX, TOPS, MZOs A YEAR. WE'VE HAD UP TO 40, IT'S NOW 38, WITHIN THIS LAST YEAR. SO THEY'VE MOVED, MZOs, FROM BEING EXCEPTIONS TO BEING PART OF THE PLANNING PROCESS ON A REGULAR BASIS. BUT IT'S LIKE DAYLIGHT ROBBERY. BECAUSE WHAT IT DOES DO... OR NIGHTTIME. IT JUST COMES DOWN ON YOU. IN FACT, THERE'S BEEN NO PLANS, THERE'S BEEN NO PUBLIC DISCUSSION, AND THERE'S NO APPEAL FROM THEM. THAT'S WHAT'S GETTING PEOPLE UPSET.

Steve says DAVE WILKES, WILL YOU GRANT THAT THE NUMBERS THAT MR. CROMBIE JUST SAID SEEM MUCH HIGHER THAN IN THE PAST, AND IF IN FACT THAT'S ACCURATE... AND I HAVE NO REASON TO DISPUTE THAT IT IS... DOES THAT CONCERN YOU?

Dave says LET ME PUT IT IN SOME CONTEXT, STEVE. SO THE MZOs THAT WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT... AND THERE'S A COUPLE POINTS I'D LIKE TO PICK UP ON HERE. THE MZOs, EVERY ONE THAT'S BEEN ISSUED THAT'S NOT BEEN ON PROVINCIALLY OWNED LAND HAS BEEN DONE AT THE REQUEST OF A MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT, WHETHER THAT'S A LOCAL GOVERNMENT OR A REGIONAL GOVERNMENT. SO THE RESPONSE TO THE REQUESTS FROM THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS TO THE MINISTER HAS BEEN WHAT'S DRIVING THE USE OF THESE TOOLS. DAVID'S RIGHT. THEY ARE PART OF THE OVERALL PLANNING PROCESS. AND WHEN THE MZOs ARE GRANTED, IT ALSO... IT'S NOT THE ONLY THING THAT IS UNDERTAKEN. ONCE AGAIN, THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES HAVE A ROLE IN PERMITTING AN APPROVAL WITHIN THE LAND THAT'S BEEN DESIGNATED AND THE MZOs. SO TO SUGGEST THAT IT'S A HEAVY-HANDED APPROACH THAT ELIMINATES ALL OTHERS, I DO HAVE A CHALLENGE WITH THAT. AND ALSO PUTTING IN CONTEXT THE NUMBER THAT DAVID MENTIONED, THE 38 MZOs THAT HAVE BEEN ISSUED OVER THE LAST LITTLE WHILE, LOOKING AT THE NUMBER OF PERMITS THAT CAs ACROSS THE PROVINCE HAVE ISSUED, IT'S UPWARDS OF 10,000 TO 15,000. SO IT IS CERTAINLY NOT THE RULE. IT IS VERY MUCH THE EXCEPTION. AND IT'S AN EXCEPTION THAT IS DRIVEN BY REQUESTS FROM LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES TO GET ON WITH MUCH-NEEDED GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT IN THEIR AREAS. AND ALSO, IF I MAY, STEVE...

Steve says LET ME... WE'RE RUNNING TIGHT ON TIME. LET ME JUST GO TO NOOR ON THIS ONE BECAUSE STEVE CLARK, WHO IS THE MINISTER OF MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS AND HOUSING, DESCRIBES THESE MINISTERIAL ZONING ORDERS AS "PLAYING A CRITICAL ROLE IN OUR PROVINCE'S ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND THEY ARE ACCELERATING PRIORITY PROJECTS." THAT'S THE WAY HE DESCRIBES IT. DO YOU THINK THAT'S AN ACCURATE DEPICTION OF WHAT HE'S TRYING TO DO?

The caption changes to "Noor Javed, @njaved."

Noor says I THINK THAT IT IS SERVING A NEED IN TERMS OF, YOU KNOW, INCREASING THE NUMBER OF LONG-TERM CARE HOMES AND POTENTIALLY HELPING IN TERMS OF GETTING BUSINESSES MOVING. I THINK THE CHALLENGE REALLY WITH MZOs IS THE DEVELOPMENT THAT'S BEING ATTACHED OR IN SOME CASES PUSHED THROUGH WITHOUT THE REGULAR PLANNING PROCESSES THAT HAVE BEEN USED FOR MANY, MANY, MANY DECADES. I THINK THAT'S WHERE THE PROBLEM IS. I DON'T THINK ANYBODY HAS A PROBLEM WITH LONG-TERM CARE HOMES BEING... YOU KNOW, PERMITS BEING APPROVED AND THE PROCESS BEING INITIATED. BUT I THINK THE FACT THAT IT'S NOT JUST LONG-TERM CARE HOMES. YOU KNOW, THERE'S SUBDIVISIONS BASICALLY BEING APPROVED. THERE'S HOUSING BEING APPROVED ON SENSITIVE LAND. THERE'S PROVINCIALLY SIGNIFICANT WETLANDS THAT ARE GOING TO BE POTENTIALLY RAZED OVER. AND SO I THINK THAT'S WHERE PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED. NO ONE I TALKED TO HAS EVER SAID "WE DON'T WANT LONG-TERM CARE." THEY'RE JUST SAYING THE PROVINCE SHOULD HAVE A DISCUSSION WITH US, THEY SHOULD HAVE THE PUBLIC INVOLVED, WE SHOULD HAVE THE PROPER PROCESSES IN PLACE BEFORE THESE THINGS ARE ISSUED.

Steve says WELL, LET ME PUT THIS PART OF IT TO DAVID CROMBIE. THE MINISTER SAYS: YES, I USE THESE MINISTERIAL ZONING ORDERS AND I'VE DONE A LOT OF THEM, BUT I DO THEM MOSTLY AT THE REQUEST OF THE LOCAL MUNICIPALITY. I'M NOT ABUSING MY POWER. DO YOU ACCEPT THAT?

The caption changes to "David Crombie, @david_crombie."

David says WELL, THIS IS ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING, AND ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING WORKS BY NATURAL BOUNDARIES AND NOT JUST MUNICIPAL BOUNDARIES. SO IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT SO THAT WHEN THE MINISTER BRINGS DOWN A ZONING ORDER, HE'S TAKING A SPECIFIC SPOT AND CHANGING THINGS. IT'S NOT NECESSARILY RELATED TO ANY OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING. AND THAT'S WHY THERE'S A CONCERN. I MIGHT SAY, IT'S WORTH POINTING OUT, THAT IF IT WAS NOT A PROBLEM, THEN YOU WOULDN'T HAVE HAD THE MUNICIPAL ASSOCIATION OPPOSED TO IT AND THE FARMERS OPPOSED TO IT AND A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE CONCERNED. WHAT THEY'D LIKE TO HAVE IS SOMETHING THAT NOOR JUST POINTED OUT, AND THAT IS, IF YOU'RE GOING TO USE MINISTERIAL ZONING ORDERS MORE FREQUENTLY, THERE NEEDS TO BE A PUBLIC DISCUSSION ABOUT WHERE, WHEN, HOW, AND WHY, NOT JUST DROP IT OVERNIGHT.

Steve says WELL, DAVE WILKES, I'M GOING TO PUT ANOTHER NAME ON THE LIST OF THOSE THAT MR. CROMBIE JUST MENTIONED AND THAT NAME IS LEITH MOORE. I KNOW YOU KNOW LEITH MOORE BECAUSE A DECADE AGO HE WAS THE CHAIR OF THE ORGANIZATION YOU CURRENTLY WORK FOR, HE WAS PART OF THE GREENBELT COUNCIL, AND HE RESIGNED, SAYING HE WAS CONCERNED, SAYING THERE HAS BEEN LITTLE ENGAGEMENT BETWEEN THE COUNCIL AND THE GOVERNMENT OVER POLICY AROUND THE GREENBELT AND THE STEPS TAKEN BY THE PROVINCE PUT DECADES OF EXCELLENT WORK ACROSS CITY AND REGIONAL BOUNDARIES AT RISK." THAT IS A PRETTY CATEGORICAL CONDEMNATION FROM A DEVELOPER. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT?

The caption changes to "Dave Wilkes, @bildgta."

Dave says LEITH IS CERTAINLY RIGHT, STEVE. HE WAS A FORMER CHAIR OF OUR ORGANIZATION OVER A DECADE AGO. HE WAS APPOINTED TO THE GREENBELT COUNCIL BY THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT, EXCUSE ME. AND I DISAGREE WITH LEITH ON THIS ONE, ALTHOUGH I HAVE GREAT RESPECT FOR HIM. THERE HAS BEEN OVERWHELMING CONSULTATION ON THE VARIOUS CHANGES THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS MAKING TO THE PLANNING PROCESS, TO THE CAs. THERE IS A SERIES OF TOOLS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS PUT IN PLACE TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT FROM FLOODLAND MANAGEMENT TO CHANGES TO THE PROVINCIAL POLICY STATEMENT. SO I HAVE A CHALLENGE WHERE WE ARE NOT LOOKING AT THE WHOLE PICTURE, NOT LOOKING AT THE WHOLE BOARD. AND I DISAGREE ON MANY FRONTS WITH THE CLAIMS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE THAT MZOs ELIMINATE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION. THEY DON'T. AS I'VE INDICATED, THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES WITHIN THE MZOs' LANDS STILL HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR PERMITTING AND APPROVAL. SO THEY'RE INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS. THE MUNICIPALITIES, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, HAVE REQUESTED THAT THE MZOs BE ISSUED BY THE MINISTER. THEY WILL BE INVOLVED. THEY WILL UNDERTAKE THE CONSULTATIONS ON THOSE DEVELOPMENTS. AND I ALSO HAVE A CHALLENGE WITH SUGGESTING THAT ONE FORM OF DEVELOPMENT MAY BE BETTER OR DIFFERENT THAN ANOTHER WITH AN MZO DESIGNATION. THERE IS NO DOUBT IN MY MIND THAT THIS IS A GROWING REGION. THIS IS A GREAT REGION TO LIVE IN. WE NEED MORE HOUSING. WE NEED MORE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT. WE NEED...

Steve says IN THE GREENBELT, MR. WILKES? DO YOU THINK WE SHOULD BE BUILDING HOUSING IN THE GREENBELT?

Dave says NO.

Steve says NO.

Dave says THE BOTTOM LINE OF THAT IS NO. I SAID THAT AT THE TOP. THE GREENBELT IS OFF THE TABLE. MZOs DO NOT APPLY TO LANDS WITHIN THE GREENBELT AND THE GOVERNMENT HAS REPEATEDLY SAID THAT THE GREENBELT REMAIN UNTOUCHED.

Steve says I KNOW THEY'VE SAID THAT, AND I'LL PUT THAT TO DAVID CROMBIE. STEVE CLARK, THE MINISTER RESPONSIBLE, HAS REPEATEDLY SAID WE ARE NOT MONKEYING AROUND WITH THE GREENBELT. WE ARE GOING TO PROTECT THE GREENBELT. DO YOU BELIEVE HIM?

David says I THINK HE'S PROBABLY... HE PROBABLY BELIEVES WHAT HE'S SAYING. BUT I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE GREENBELT DOESN'T EXIST ON SOME ARCTIC ICE FLOE. IT'S CONNECTED TO THE REST OF THE PROVINCE. WHEN YOU'RE DEALING WITH ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING, EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING ELSE. WHAT HAPPENS ON THE BOUNDARIES AND BORDERS IS WHAT LEITH WAS POINTING OUT. WHAT HAPPENS AROUND THE BOUNDARIES AND BORDERS AND AROUND THE GREENBELT AFFECTS THE GREENBELT. WATER FLOWS WHERE WATER NEEDS TO FLOW. AND SO ALL OF THOSE THINGS THAT ARE CONNECTED TO ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING ARE NOT SUBJECT SIMPLY TO A DISCUSSION BETWEEN TWO LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT OF POLITICIANS. THAT'S WHY PEOPLE ARE UPSET. THEY WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION ABOUT THESE MZOs AND NOT JUST LEAVE IT TO TALKS BETWEEN POLITICIANS.

Steve says NOOR, YOU HAVE HEARD WHAT THIS GOVERNMENT HAS HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE GREENBELT AND THE SURROUNDING AREA. YOU HAVE ALSO SEEN THE ACTIONS THAT THEY HAVE TAKEN. DO YOU THINK THE WORDS AND THE ACTIONS MATCH?

Noor says I THINK THAT THE... I THINK THAT IF THEY HAD JUST BEEN THE MZOs AND IF THERE HADN'T BEEN THE CHANGES TO THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES ACT, I THINK MANY PEOPLE WOULD NOT BE UP IN ARMS BECAUSE I THINK MANY PEOPLE DO LOOK AT THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES AS A KIND OF, YOU KNOW, LAST CHECK TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL THE ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES AND THINGS ARE BEING PROTECTED. I THINK THE FACT THAT BOTH THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN CONJUNCTION, THESE MZOs ARE BEING ISSUED AND NOW WE'VE SEEN THESE PRETTY DRAMATIC CHANGES TO THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES, I THINK THAT IS WHERE THE CONCERN IS, AND, YOU KNOW, I AGREE WITH... THAT, YOU KNOW, THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES WILL STILL BE THERE, THEY WILL STILL BE DOING THEIR JOBS. THAT OF COURSE IS TRUE. BUT I FEEL LIKE THE CHANGES ARE, AS PEOPLE HAVE SAID, ARE SO SIGNIFICANT TO THE ACT THAT IT DOES LIMIT IN TERMS OF HOW MUCH CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES CAN DO AND HOW MUCH THEY CAN PROTECT IN A HOLISTIC WAY.

Steve says ALL RIGHT. MR. CROMBIE, I'VE GOT TO ASK YOU ABOUT YOUR RESIGNATION AND THAT OF ALL YOUR COLLEAGUES ON THE GREENBELT COUNCIL AS WELL... NOT ALL OF THEM, SORRY. SIX OF THEM. I CAN IMAGINE THE DEBATE YOU HAVE WITH YOURSELF. ON THE ONE HAND IF WE STAY ON THE COUNCIL AND FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT FROM WITHIN, WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO INFLUENCE THE MINISTER PERHAPS MORE EFFECTIVELY, MORE PRIVATELY. ON THE OTHER HAND, IF WE THINK WE CAN'T BE A PARTY TO THIS ANYMORE, WE HAVE TO RESIGN ON A POINT OF PRINCIPLE. I GET THE DEBATE. WHY, ULTIMATELY, DID YOU DECIDE, "I'VE GOT TO RESIGN. I CAN'T WORK FROM WITHIN ANYMORE"?

David says WELL, THE EVENT OF 229 AND THAT EVENT WAS NOT AN ISOLATED EVENT. WE HAD OVER THE TWO YEARS THAT WE WERE IN BUSINESS, WE HAD SOME 75... AROUND 75 RECOMMENDATIONS DURING THAT TIME. WE DID NOT... ALTHOUGH IT MAY HAVE HAD HAD AN IMPACT ON THE GOVERNMENT, WE NEVER HAD ANY RESPONSE. I DON'T HAVE ONE FORMAL... WE SENT 17 LETTERS WITH SOME 75 RECOMMENDATIONS... SOMETHING LIKE THAT... AND WE NEVER GOT A FORMAL RESPONSE. NOW, THEY MAY HAVE HAD AN IMPACT, BUT WE DIDN'T KNOW THAT. AGAIN, WHEN WE WERE VERY CLEAR BOTH ABOUT THE CHANGES TO THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES ACT AND THE MZOs, IN THE FACE OF OUR CLEAR LETTER TO THE MINISTER, DIDN'T EVEN BOTHER WITH IT, SAYING "NO," JUST WENT ON, WE THOUGHT, WELL, WHAT GOOD ARE WE DOING ON THE INSIDE? IF WE'RE REALLY INTERESTED IN THIS, WE'RE BETTER OFF ON THE OUTSIDE.

Steve says LET'S IN OUR LAST FEW MINUTES HERE JUST CONSIDER... I ALWAYS LIKE TO ASK THE QUESTION IN POLITICS, ADMITTEDLY IT SOUNDS FUNNY IN LATIN, QUE BONO. IF THIS IS DONE THE WAY IT SHOULD BE DONE, WHO BENEFITS?

The caption changes to "Cui bono? Who benefits?"

Dave says I THINK THERE ARE BENEFITS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT BECAUSE THE ROLE AND THE PURPOSE OF THE CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES HAS BEEN MADE VERY CLEAR. AND LET ME JUST QUOTE FROM THE BILL, STEVE. IT REALLY IS THAT THE PROGRAMS AND SERVICES RELATED TO THE RISK OF NATURAL HAZARDS... AND I'M READING FROM THE BILL... IS WHAT THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE FOCUSED ON. WE HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THAT. WE THINK THAT'S A REALLY GOOD FOCUS. THERE'S OTHER COMPONENTS WITHIN THE PLANNING PROCESS. REGIONAL MUNICIPALITIES, THE FLOOD MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, THE PROVINCIAL POLICY STATEMENT THAT I MENTIONED... THAT ALSO HAVE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ENVIRONMENT. SO THIS IS NOT AN ATTACK ON THE ENVIRONMENT. I FEEL VERY STRONGLY ABOUT THAT AND I BELIEVE THAT THE ENVIRONMENT WILL BENEFIT. AND I ALSO BELIEVE THAT THERE WILL BE CLARITY AND TRANSPARENCY AND STREAMLINING IN THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENT. AND DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE, AND WE HAD DONE A STUDY A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO WHERE THERE WAS 52 STUDIES, CHECKLISTS AND REPORTS THAT NEEDED TO BE DONE. TO UNDERTAKE DEVELOPMENT, IT TAKES 11 YEARS FOR A DEVELOPMENT PROJECT TO BE UNDERTAKEN, AND WITH THE GROWTH THAT WE'RE EXPERIENCING, WE DO BELIEVE THAT THERE IS OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE AND IMPROVEMENT. SO WE THINK THERE'S A BENEFIT ALL AROUND: BENEFIT TO THE ENVIRONMENT, BENEFIT TO THE PROCESS, AND DEFINITELY BENEFIT TO RESIDENTS OF THE GTA AND THE PROVINCE.

Steve says NOOR, WHO BENEFITS WITH THE CURRENT APPROACH TAKEN BY THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO?

Noor says I'M TRYING TO BE OBJECTIVE HERE (LAUGHING). I DO FEEL LIKE DEVELOPERS WILL BENEFIT BECAUSE, FROM WHAT I'VE SEEN, A PROCESS OF PLANNING AND APPROVAL THAT WOULD TAKE MANY YEARS IS NOW BEING FAST-TRACKED THROUGH THE MZO PROCESS, YOU KNOW, ALMOST IMMEDIATE APPROVAL AS LONG AS A MUNICIPALITY HAS APPROVED IT. YOU KNOW, I THINK DOWN THE ROAD, MAYBE 20, 30 YEARS FROM NOW, YOU COULD SAY RESIDENTS WILL BENEFIT BECAUSE THERE WILL BE MORE HOUSING. BUT I DO FEEL LIKE IN THE LONG RUN, AS LONG AS THERE'S DEVELOPMENT HAPPENING ON TOP OF PROVINCIALLY SIGNIFICANT WETLANDS AND OTHER AREAS, I FEEL LIKE MANY OF US WILL LOSE OUT IN THE END.

Steve says LAST WORD TO DAVID CROMBIE.

David says I THINK THE PUBLIC CAN STILL BENEFIT. DAVE WILKES IS RIGHT. WE ARE GOING TO BE EXPANDING MORE. THE URBAN ENVELOPE, THE URBAN HORIZON, IS GOING TO CONTINUE TO EXPAND. AND THAT'S A GOOD THING. BUT THAT'S ALL THE MORE REASON WHY WE NEED TO NOT WEAKEN CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES BUT STRENGTHEN THEM, BECAUSE IN ORDER FOR IT TO BE REALLY HELPFUL FOR THE PUBLIC GENERALLY AND FOR CITIZENS GENERALLY, WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT THAT EXPANSION BY THE DEVELOPMENT INDUSTRY IS ONE WHICH IS CRADLED BY THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROCESSES WE PUT DOWN FOR IT. AND WHAT IS HAPPENING IS THAT THEY'VE TAKEN AWAY THOSE ENVIRONMENTAL, IN MY JUDGMENT, THOSE ENVIRONMENTAL BASES WHICH WILL REALLY HURT US WITH THE EXPANSION. I'M FOR THE EXPANSION. I ALSO WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT IT'S GOT A CONTEXT OF ENVIRONMENTAL SANITY ABOUT IT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin; Producer: Patricia Kozicka, @TrishKozicka."

Steve says THIS IS A TOUGH AND COMPLICATED ISSUE, BUT I'M REALLY GRATEFUL TO THE THREE OF YOU FOR COMING ONTO TVO TONIGHT AND HELPING US UNDERSTAND IT BETTER. DAVID CROMBIE, THE FORMER CHAIR OF THE GREENBELT COUNCIL; DAVE WILKES FROM BUILD; NOOR JAVED FROM THE TORONTO STAR. THANK YOU, YOU THREE, AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL.

Dave says HAPPY NEW YEAR, STEVE, THANK YOU.

David says HAPPY NEW YEAR, STEVE.

Watch: The Greenbelt Controversy