QUEEN’S PARK – Marit Stiles, Incoming Leader of the Ontario NDP, revealed new information about the Ford government’s plan to carve up the Greenbelt, indicating that a land development company seems to have had advance knowledge of the plan before it was made public.
“The more information we uncover about Ford’s scheme to tear up the Greenbelt, the more concerned I become”, said Stiles. “Protected land became extremely lucrative overnight, and Ford donors seem to have benefitted enormously from land they had just purchased. Maybe they were just incredibly lucky. But something doesn’t seem right to me.”
Three days before the announcement to tear up the Greenbelt was made public, Rice Group, a land development company, told the Mayor of King Township that a parcel of land could be provided for a nominal fee for a local project. At the time, that land was a protected part of the Greenbelt. Just three days later, the Ford government announced their intent to make the land available.
“This finding indicates to us that somebody knew something”, said Stiles. “I am confident that the Integrity Commissioner will review this information and provide Ontarians with the answers they deserve about the Greenbelt”.
The Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario opened an investigation on January 18, 2023, after finding “reasonable and probable grounds” to investigate Ford’s actions to carve up the Greenbelt. Stiles submitted additional evidence last week.
Background - Timeline
- November 24, 2022 – Stiles wrote to the Auditor General requesting an investigation into the Ford government’s decision to open up 7,400 acres of Greenbelt land for development.
- December 8, 2022 – Formal Integrity Commissioner complaint filed.
- January 12, 2023 – Stiles and the other opposition leaders sent a letter to Auditor General requesting both a value-for-money audit and an environmental impact assessment of the government's decision to remove lands from the Greenbelt.
- January 18, 2023 – Integrity Commissioner and Auditor General confirm they will be conducting investigations.
- January 27, 2023 – Additional information is submitted to the Integrity Commissioner.