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In this scenario, democracy is no more

In Merv Russell's Letter to the Editor, he explains why Bill 23 brings forward disturbing developments, giving inadequate time to consider complex housing problems and climate change while undermining democracy.
Jason Jarrach on Unsplash
Jason Jarrach on Unsplash

The provincial government is in the process of ratifying Bill 23. This is an omnibus bill that is mainly concerned with quickening and withdrawing legal processes to make more land available for housing. Regrettably, it does this at the expense of the environment and democratic process.

Some of the main features of Bill 23 are: 

  • Removing the planning powers of Regional Municipalities.
  • Relieving land developers of development fees and loading the costs onto municipalities.
  • Removing the powers of Conservation Authorities to grant or to withhold permits to build on regulated areas
  • Denying individual citizens or citizen groups any right of appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

As citizens of Ontario, we are confronted with the continuation of the most anti-environmental government policies since the global climate crisis became a major international concern.

We are also confronted with a highly authoritarian government. It has not consulted with major affected stakeholders such as the Association of Municipalities Ontario,  Ontario's Big City Mayors, Conservation Authorities, and Ontario Nature. It completely ignores citizen environmental groups. 

Despite these measures not being mentioned in the recent election, it rushes this legislation through the parliamentary process, giving inadequate time to consider complex problems like the relation of expanding housing to responding to the climate crisis. It decides on policies that regularly favour its favourite business sector, land developers. 

When governments consistently act in these ways, it becomes clear that this is their view of how to govern. They consider they know absolutely what is best for the province and, therefore, they expect and require everyone to conform to their decisions. In this scenario, democracy is no more.