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Simcoe activists warn that developers are taking advantage of Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO)

The government’s seemingly generous approach to MZOs has caught the attention of developers, who see an order as a quick and easy way to get their projects approved, without the lengthy hassle of the planning process. All they need is approval from the local municipal council.

Will this become a tool that Richmond Hill council and developers will use?

Richmond Hill Council has already tried to obtain a MZO once to remove lands from the Oak Ridges Moraine which was unsuccessful. What's to stop council/developers from requesting MZOs to speed up developments, for example, at the Yonge/ Bernard and Yonge/16th KDAs to provide an "economic boost on the road to recovery"?

Read Toronto Star reporter Noor Javed's article about The Friends of Simcoe Forest and their fight to stop Simcoe County’s plan to build an 11-acre waste-processing complex in the heart of the Freele County Forest and how the County has now requested a MZO. If approved there will be no opportunity for the public to appeal.

Minister's Zoning Order (MZO): The Planning Act gives the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing the authority to zone any property in the province.

Concern is growing around the minister’s use of MZOs — a tool critics call the “bulldozer of planning” — as it gives the minister extraordinary power to override local planning processes, bypass environmental policies and public participation to re-designate land however they want. There is also no appeal process.

Once considered a planning tool of last resort, the Ford government has issued eight MZOs since 2018. Four MZOs that were approved in the GTA in April 2020.

“We are cutting red tape to help create more housing, more jobs and much-needed infrastructure. A minister’s zoning order can speed up part of the planning approvals process needed for development, providing an economic boost on our road to recovery,” said housing ministry spokesperson Conrad Spezowka, adding that MZOs have been issued for long-term-care facilities and hospital expansion projects.
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