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Georgina formally opposes Greenbelt development

'I hope all municipalities take the time and effort to present something and send something to the province,’ Georgina director of developmental services says
File photo

The Town of Georgina council is formally opposing settlement development in the Greenbelt and the provincial overhaul of municipal development policies.

The municipality passed a resolution this week to send a message to the province of its opposition to provincial plans to redesignate 7,400 acres of Greenbelt into settlement area. The resolution also indicates the municipality’s opposition to Bill 23, which seeks to speed up the development but has garnered criticism for slashing municipal development charges and environmental impact. 

Georgina Mayor Margaret Quirk questioned how some of the policy changes would really work.

“It just boggles the mind at times when you see it on paper and think, how can this really function in the real world?” she said, adding criticism to plans to cut developer fees on some developments. “Growth is supposed to pay for growth. We know it doesn’t currently, but now it really won’t. It will be passed down to the taxpayer.” 

The Georgina resolution backs a similar one from York Region concerning Bill 23, asking the province to halt the process, but goes a step further to formally oppose the redesignating Greenbelt land for settlement, which is separate legislation. Neighbouring King Township has indicated some approval for some of its Greenbelt lands to be redesignated to become a potential Southlake Regional Health Centre site. 

Director of developmental services Harold Lenters discussed some of the issues town staff saw with the bill. He said although the province has indicated the Greenbelt land is needed to address housing affordability through more supply, there are plenty of existing lands slated for development that have not been developed yet.

“Our individual voice isn’t going to change much. It never is,” he said. “Collectively, I hope all municipalities take the time and effort to present something and send something to the province, and that way, I hope we can facilitate a step back.

Newmarket council will have its first full meeting of its new term Dec. 5.

The move by Georgina garnered praise from the North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance, which is planning a rally outside MPP Caroline Mulroney’s office on Sunday.

“Hopefully, many more GTA municipalities will follow Georgina’s lead,” the alliance said.