The shouts to preserve farmland were not enough to reverse course on the breakup and development of southern Ontario’s Greenbelt, but it appears several scathing reports of misdoings and resignations of ministers was.
Late last week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford held a press conference (CTV clip below) to not only announce a pull back on the Greenbelt development expansion, but also to say he was sorry.
“I made a promise to you that I wouldn’t touch the Greenbelt. I broke that promise. And for that I’m very, very sorry,” Ford said at the presser.
Ford points to the process being rushed as one of the reasons for the reversal.
“It was a mistake to open the Greenbelt. It was a mistake to establish a process that moved too fast. This process, it left too much room for some people to benefit over others. It caused people to question our motives,” Ford says.
It’s not immediately clear if all the land in question will be returned to the Greenbelt — reports are that several tracts of land in the Hamilton area are set to return, and that no development had yet started on any land in question.
What’s also not clear is whether or not the province (and thus tax payers) will be on the hook for financial losses. Developers could potentially sue, though none have as of yet.
It is clear, however, that the loss of farmland was not a consideration in the reversal, as Ford cites only the controversy, the rush of the process, and the breaking of a promise as reasons.