Niagara Area MPP Cindy Forster Speaks Out on Doug Ford, Developing ‘Chunks’ of the Greenbelt, and the ‘Ongoing Saga of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’

–         For the Record Comments Cindy Forster Made in the Ontario Legislature

Sent from the Constituency Office of Niagara Centre (Weland) MPP Cindy Forster
Posted May 3rd, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Welland (Niagara Centre) NDP MPP Cindy Forster in provincial legislature. file photo

(Niagara, Ontario area NDP MPP Cindy Forster made the following remarks in the Ontario legislature this past Tuesday, May 1st following a video that surfaced, showing Ontario PC Party Leader Doug Ford – then still a candidate for the party’s leadership when the video was made last February – telling a gathering of people that he would approve of “big chunks” of protected lands in the province’s Greenbelt being sold off for urban development.)

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO, Tuesday 1 May 2018

Ms. Cindy Forster:

“I’m going to turn to Mr. Ford’s comments with respect to the greenbelt as it pertains to my ongoing saga of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.

I am very concerned when I hear that the Conservative leader is actually going to be having a look at greenbelt areas across this province.

It is exactly what has been happening and what I have been talking about in this Legislature for the last couple of years, particularly as it relates to Niagara Falls—the member from Niagara Falls is here—and the Thundering Waters project in the Falls.

I’m concerned that this, under Doug Ford, will lead to a wonderful wetland in the Niagara Peninsula being developed by some large Chinese developer, and that legislation will change to allow that to happen.

One of many protests over past three years outside Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) board meetings. File photo by Doug Draper

I’m concerned because the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority has moved to a development mode, instead of a protection and a conservation mode, in some of their thinking.

At the moment, the Auditor General is in doing a financial audit. They have been there for months. I’m hoping to see some reports in a short period of time. There are ongoing issues there at the NPCA with respect to harassment of workers.

Picket signs like this have become routine outside meetings of Niagara Peninsula Conservation’s board. This one protests lawsuit NPCA has launched against one of its Niagara citizen critics.

We’re trying to get the NPCA to release a report that was done by an outside firm. They’re not very forthcoming with that issue. We have Ed Smith (a Niagara area citizen), who you all know; you probably all know now he was in the Supreme Court for a SLAPP suit by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. Judge Ramsay in the case ruled that the NPCA was wrong and that in fact as private citizens, we have the right to have a voice, to have an opinion, and there was no slander intended by Mr. Smith.

Shortly after that suit, they then went to take on one of their former employees, who had her employment severed after I think 20-plus years.

At the moment, there is actually a move on to try to get them to withdraw that SLAPP suit against that person. I’m not going to mention her name again here in the Legislature, because that was how she ended up being sued, unfortunately.

When we have leaders running for parties making broad statements about what they’re going to do with respect to greenbelts, I think it’s very concerning for many of us in the province. For Mr. Ford to say that he’s going to free up a lot of these greenbelt areas for affordable housing—we just don’t believe that. We don’t believe that anybody is going to want to build affordable housing on greenbelts.

We’re going to open this up in areas of the province, in Hamilton and Toronto, where property is very expensive to start with, and at the end of the day, people still are not going to be able to afford to buy houses in downtown Toronto or in downtown Hamilton. That issue is quite concerning.”

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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