RCMP take over the land swap case - will criminal charges be laid?

By Pepper Parr

August 23, 2023



The heat just got turned up a notch.

Police in Ontario tend not to touch much in the way of misbehaviour on the part of politicians at the provincial level.

The potential for conflicts is just too high.

The Ontario Provincial Police has been keeping an eye on the way the Greenbelt land swap is playing out.  When it became evident to them – they passed the file along to the RCMP.


The OPP said it: “has received a number of inquiries regarding an investigation into the Greenbelt.”

“To avoid any potential perceived conflict of interest, the OPP referred this matter to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,”

“In order to protect the integrity of the process, it would not be appropriate to provide any further comment. Questions should be directed to the RCMP.”

The OPP got in touch with the Mounties and said there was a thick file coming their way.

The “buck stopped” at the Premier’s desk. Is that statement enough to bring an end to the problems?

The decision on the part of Doug Ford to accept the resignation of Ryan Amato who was blamed by the Auditor General for the way lands were removed from the Greenbelt to allow housing developments.

Amato was Chief of Staff to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs Steve Clark who said he was not aware of the decisions Amato made about lands being removed from the Greenbelt

The move came the morning after Ford’s government parted ways with Ryan Amato, who was blamed in the $8.28-billion Greenbelt land swap controversy.

Ivana Yelich, Ford’s deputy chief of staff, said Tuesday afternoon that: “The premier’s office has accepted Ryan Amato’s resignation as chief of staff to the minister of municipal affairs and housing, effective immediately,”

Auditor General Bonnie Lysak issued a scathing report – is it to bring about the resignation of the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs Steve Clark

Auditor General Bonnie Lysak issued a scathing report that set out just what happened: prominent developers” getting 7,400 acres of environmentally sensitive land in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area opened up to build 50,000 homes adding that  the usual guardrails provided by bureaucrats and planners, and personally selected 14 of the 15 parcels of protected land to be removed from the Greenbelt.

Lysak said that could mean an $8.28-billion bonanza for the landowners.

Integrity commissioner J. David Wake, who is also doing a probe of the Greenbelt land swap, is investigating whether Amato breached the Public Service Act.

Burlington MPP Natalie Pierre has yet to make a statement on the Auditor General’s Report.

Amato, who has retained counsel, has not been available for comment.

It is not unusual for the OPP, which is funded by Queen’s Park, to refer potentially politically sensitive cases to other forces.

This isn’t the end of this story.

People in Burlington are still waiting for a statement from their MPP Natalie Pierre – promised “soon” more than a week ago.

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Ford just might get away with the land swaps - details on just how it went down

By Pepper Parr

August 15th, 2023



It’s an issue that impacts all of us – on two levels.

The first – the way the provincial government treats the people who voted for them.

Second – how the provincial government manipulated issues and some of the senior people on the political side and the staffing side.

Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Housing Steve Clark trying to talk their way out of the responsibility for lands that were taken out of the Greenbelt Boundary.

During the media event in Streetsville where the Premier and the Minister of Housing were handing out provincial money to a housing development that was oriented to people who had drug and coping problems one of the reporters asked the Premier why they were throwing Ryan Amato under the bus.

In the world of journalism you don’t too many opportunities to ask questions like that; once in a career if you are lucky.

I think Minister of Housing Steve Clark gulped.

If Ryan Amato was watching the media event – not sure if he was attending, didn’t see him in the small group, but he must have shuddered when he heard the question.

The Premier has sent the issue of Amato’s behaviour along to the Integrity Commissioner letting him hold the axe that will be used to dispose of Ryan Amato.  The Integrity Commissioner said “it is reviewing a request from Premier Doug Ford’s office to investigate a senior aide about his role in selecting which lands in the protected Greenbelt would be approved for housing development.”

Recall that Amato worked very closely with a number of developers who were giving him documents that suggested which properties could be taken out of the Greenbelt Boundary and made available for development to solve the hosing crisis.

Nate Erskine Smith, one of five people running for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party who is currently a federal politician sitting in the House of Commons where he represent a Toronto constituency – Beaches—East York said:” now I’ve been in politics long enough to know that there is no chance, there is no chance that a chief of staff takes all of these significant steps without informing the minister or the Premier’s office.

Well just what were those “significant steps”

Nate puts it this way:
The Auditor General found that the developers received preferential treatment, incredibly of the 15 sites approved for removal 14 were brought into the project by the housing Minister’s Chief of Staff and it doesn’t stop there.

92% of the acreage ultimately removed were from five land sites passed to the housing Minister’s Chief of Staff from two developers, including, by the way have a package handed to him on September 14 at a dinner function.

What has to be interesting is that the names of the developers who were passing information along to Amato are not yet named.

We do know now that most of the land is in  Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy  constituency Pickering—Uxbridge

On September 14, 2022 at the  Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD dinner, two prominent developers provide packages to the chief of staff including site nine. The next day on September 15, the sale of site nine is completed (it hadn’t even been completed when they handed the package over). The following day, September 16. The Chief of Staff communicates three priority sites for removal from the Greenbelt, including site nine.


A Toronto Star columnist puts it this way:
“The housing minister’s chief of staff, Ryan Amato was directing the process for choosing which land would be opened up.”

The senior civil service staff involved were under the impression that Amato was doing what the Minister wanted so they didn’t speak up. Also because of the tight three week timeline, and the confidentiality agreements civil servants were obligated to sign, the sites could not be fully examined by experts, nor could many alternative sites be suggested, the auditor found.

Again from the Star columnist:
“Of the 15 parcels of land that were being considered,14 were proposed by Amato, not non-partisan provincial staff tasked with the work. Of the 14,, 12 were brought to Amato by the developers themselves. During the selection process, Amato changed the rules so that these properties would be more likely to qualify.”

NDP leader of the Opposition Marit Stiles

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk even uncovered instances where portions of emails from developers to political staff were copied and pasted and forwarded to deputy ministers for inclusion in legislation. The civil servants involved did not know the text they were writing into law had been drafted by those who the law would affect.

Premier Doug Ford and Housing Minister Steve Clark say, essentially, that they didn’t realize that’s how it went down. “The process should have been better,” Ford said.

Toronto Star columnist Reg Cohn put it this way: “The politician who first came to power alleging corruption by a previous Liberal government now presides over a corrupted political process of his own making, on his own watch.”

All this ended up with the Auditor General when NDP leader of the Opposition Marit Stiles asked the Auditor to investigate. Interestingly Stiles gets little mention for that initial step she took asking the Auditor General to investigate.

Related new story:

Follow the money.

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Squeeze play - Auditor General has to retire September 3rd - any of the work she has done on the Greenbelt land swaps will go out the door with her

By Staff

July 18th, 2023



The plans Premier Ford had to move lands out of the Greenbelt and replaced by lands he would put into the Greenbelt are giving him grief galore.

Marit Stiles, leader of the Opposition at Queen’s Park asked the Auditor General to do a Value for Money investigation.

Bonnie Lysyk, Ontario’s current Auditor General

Bonnie Lysyk, Ontario’s current Auditor General thought about it and took on the task.

One of the things she wanted to do was interview Ontario developer Silvio De Gasperis of the TACC Group of companies that owns one of the properties.

In a controversial move by the Ford government, nearly 3,000 hectares of land were removed from Ontario’s Greenbelt — a two-million-acre stretch of protected farmland, forests, and wetlands in Southern Ontario — so that tens of thousands of homes could be built. The removal drew backlash from a variety of camps — those concerned over the environmental implications, and those raising an eyebrow at developers with connections to Ford having purchased now-freed-up Greenbelt land in the years immediately preceding its removal.

One such developer is TACC, who, in 2021, acquired a property in Vaughan with then-protected Greenbelt land for $50M. This was added to a growing collection of Greenbelt lands De Gasperis owned, which also included parcels of farmland in north Pickering that he previously tried to transform into subdivisions.

Once protected Greenbelt Land – slated for housing developments.

In January of this year, Lysyk announced an audit of the financial and environmental impacts of the Greenbelt lands removal, filing a summons on June 26 requiring De Gasperis to attend an examination. In a response filed with the court De Gasperis asks the court to quash the summons, which the documents note was not the Auditor General’s first attempt to obtain information from De Gasperis.

Ten days before the summons was filed, Lysyk sent a letter to De Gasperis requesting a meeting regarding TACC Group’s lands in the Duffins Rouges Agricultural Preserve in Pickering that were no longer subject to Greenbelt restrictions, court documents say. The letter reportedly noted an interest in discussing, among other topics, how the Ontario government identified TACC’s lands for removal from the Greenbelt.

The summons itself required De Gasperis to appear at the Auditor General’s office on June 30 and bring “any and all relevant records, correspondence, notes and documents in connection with the examination under oath regarding TACC Development’s properties removed from the Greater Toronto Area Greenbelt.”
De Gasperis’ response provides a laundry list of reasons for wanting to quash the summons, including a claim that Lysyk is seeking to examine De Gasperis “on matters on which he has no information beyond that of someone who is generally knowledgeable about the housing and development industry.”

The response also states De Gasperis “does not have relevant information to provide with respect to matters within the jurisdiction of the Auditor general, whose mandate generally is to determine if government money has been well spent, rather than how Greenbelt boundaries were redrawn by the Ontario government.” It then goes on to call the summons an “abuse of process.”

Neil Wilson, Partner at Stevenson Whelton LLP and legal representative for De Gasperis, provided a statement on behalf of TACC, highlighting the developer’s issue with the Auditor General requesting “information on a number of very broad topic areas on planning and government process.”

Rural Ontario as we know it today will be very different in a decade. The change begs the question – where is the food going to come from – are we going to truck it all in from California or from South America?

“TACC is not the best source of information on these broad subject matters. However, as TACC appreciates that the Auditor General is attempting to understand a complex subject matter, we responded with a list of more appropriate and knowledgeable sources,” the statement reads. “At this point, the scope and goal of the Auditor General’s investigation are unclear.”

Wilson also notes that “the vast majority” of TACC’s Greenbelt land holdings “were acquired over twenty years ago prior to the existence of the Greenbelt and [the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve Act].” TACC believes the Auditor General is “considering clarifying to TACC what information is being sought.”

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has amended the Greenbelt Area boundary regulation to add 13 new Urban River Valley areas and lands in the Paris Galt Moraine in Wellington County and remove 15 areas of land. Add lands in the Paris Galt Moraine in Wellington County to the Greenbelt Area Remove or re designate 15 areas of land totalling approximately 7,400 acres from the edge of the Greenbelt Area that are serviced or adjacent to services and will be used to build housing in the near term. The investigative reporters want to learn more about who bought the lands that are being taken out of the Greenbelt and how much did they know before they bought ?

It is more than just the TACC properties – the land involved, as identified in the image above, is extensive.

The Auditor General’s office confirmed that the results of the audit are expected to be released by September, although an exact release date has not yet been determined.

Bonnie Lysyk’s term of office comes to end on September 3rd.

Can you see the play that is taking place ?

Crafty folks they are indeed.

Related news stories:

Doug explains the plan.

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Could a land swap save the city and keep the waterfront in the hands of the public?

By Pepper Parr

September 29th, 2021



It was during a meeting on that wonderful deck that runs along the north side of Lakeshore Road – across the street from Spencer Smith Park where one can see the ships heading to, or leaving, Hamilton harbour and where, what a long departed friend said, one can enjoy an Adult Libation.

One of the prime places to just enjoy the city is on the north side of Lakeshore looking out over the lake. Great ideas bubble to the surface while enjoying an Adult Beverage,

I was meeting with a couple of friends and talking through possible options and new ideas to keep the Waterfront Hotel site in public hands rather than have a large tower go up.

At the time no one knew that the developer’s plan was for two 30 story plus towers on the site.

Many see the land south of Lakeshore Road as a “public” part of the public realm.  Much of it is land that was recovered and made usable with landfill.

The owners of the hotel do have title to some of the land but surely not all the land right up to the edge of the lake.

My friends, who don’t want their names trotted out at this point – at an appropriate time they will be more public.  These are men who comment intelligently on public matters.

They wondered aloud if there was not some kind of land swap that could be done.

And that was when a light bulb lit up.

It doesn’t function all that well as a place to work and the city is going to need a lot more space.

City hall as a building is not that functional.  It is past its best-before date but, because it is what we have, money is going to be spent on making the best of a bad situation.

It is an awkward building – there was no real design – additions kept being added. The entrance was once on the west side.

The Art Gallery has never been a truly functional building.  It is a collection of additions to a structure that were added on when there was a donor.

So – here is a swap that could be done:

The owner wants to build and has some impressive designs – that will, if ever built, change the heart and soul of the city. There is a chance to give the developer what they want and to save what is left of Burlington.

Exchange the Waterfront Hotel site for the city hall site and the Art Gallery site.

Then design a purpose built building that would house City Hall and the Art Gallery on the Waterfront Hotel site.

Include a band shell and ensure the roof of the structure is environmentally friendly.  And ensure that the building is not more than four storeys.

Two for the Art Gallery and two floors for the city.

Hold a charette and commission some design ideas from architects from around the world.

Imagine for a moment: City Hall and the Art Gallery nestled at the base of the slope of the land immediately south of Lakeshore Road leaving a clear view of the Lake.  Try the idea on for size the next time you are walking along the promenade and talk it up with your friends.

Parking – that is something that would have to be figured out.  The Lotus Street Parking lot is used by city hall staff now – that could continue and there could be some parking beneath the four storey building.

Can’t be done you say?  With the right leadership – it certainly can be done.

Rob MacIsaac, a former Burlington Mayor, took bold steps and changed the city in a way that no one has since his time.

Rob MacIsaac, a former Burlington Mayor, did it when he turned the former police station on Locust into the Performing Arts Centre, then had the building that houses a restaurant along with the tourist office on the ground floor and office for the Chamber of Commerce, the BDBA and the Economic Development Corporation on the second floor with five levels of parking above it all.

Then he got really ambitious and got a pier built as well.

So – never say it can’t be done – think about how it can be done and where the leadership is going to come from.

More on this going forward.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.


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Federal Minister for Environment decides to study land close to properties where developers want to build home homes

By Staff

March 22, 2023



The federal government has climbed aboard the drive to reverse the land swaps and the Greenbelt Land Grab the Ford government announced in December of 2022.

Minister Guilbeault’s action are being described as a key step on a path to victory for Ontarians working to protect the Greenbelt in perpetuity.

Steven Guilbeault, not yet a politician got himself arrested for climbing the CN Tower. The man clearly knew what a photo op is supposed to be.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault announced a new regional environmental study on the impacts of housing developments planned by the Ford government near the Rouge National Urban Park.

Guilbeault has a flair for the dramatic and his intervention certainly won’t hurt in the push to ensure that the Greenbelt is protected in perpetuity.

Today’s Federal announcement is described as a direct result of Ontarians speaking up about the broken Greenbelt promise.

The federal announcement adds to the work being done by Environmental Defence and the several complaints being looked into by Ontario’s Auditor General and the provincial Integrity Commissioner.

Properties that are targeted for development..

Support for the Greenbelt is said to be well understood.  In August 2022 an EKOS poll commissioned by the David Suzuki Foundation found that 75 percent of voters in Toronto’s suburbs wanted municipal election candidates to offer more protection to the Greenbelt

A group working out of Guelph. Greenbelt Promise Campaign, used dramatic language to describe what the issue is and why it is important. Ontario’s Greenbelt created in 2005 has become land that developers have been acquiring.  Residents of Ontario are said to understand that greenbelts are created as guarantees to protect the environment and farmland from profit-driven developers.

“In December 2022, Conservative MPPs betrayed Ontarians when they chose to undermine the environment and the will of the people by selling out the Greenbelt to wealthy developers.

“The Ford government is being pressed to reverse the decision that gave developers permission to send bulldozers into the Greenbelt.

“The Ontario’s environmental community congratulates Minister Guilbeault for this timely intervention to protect farms, forests and wetlands.”


The threat is real – there are specific solutions.

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The way wetlands work and why they are protected and where they are now not as protected

By Pepper Parr

January 7th, 2023



So just why are wetlands really important?

The Premier of the province wants to permit building on wetlands and has passed legislation that opens up parts of the province to development in places that were believed to be protected forever for the benefit of future generations, permanently off-limits to urbanization.

Established in 2005, Ontario’s Greenbelt, a swath of land that encircles the Greater Toronto Area, is an aggregation of farmland, river valleys and other natural features.


They are natural and are essential if climate changes are to be effectively managed.

Wetlands are the kidneys of the planet. Wetlands have the wonderful ability to remove pollutants from water, thanks to their luscious vegetation. Cattails, for example, aren’t just good for entertainment with seedy fluff that explodes in the wind. These iconic wetland plants are able to capture excess phosphorus and nitrogen, thereby preventing harmful algal blooms.

Even more amazingly, wetlands are able to get rid of 90% of water-borne pathogens. For us, this is crucial as wetlands recharge groundwater, which 26% of Canadians rely on for drinking water.

Where a natural wetland does not exist some communities are finding ways to create them.

Wetlands are now being constructed as natural infrastructure to clean stormwater. Canada’s largest constructed stormwater treatment wetland is located in Calgary, Alberta and is the size of approximately 150 football fields.

In the spring, wetlands are brimming with waterfowl, blackbirds and shorebirds as they nest and raise their young in the safety of reeds, grasses and stones. Not only is it a sanctuary for migratory and year-round birds, there are also fish species, frogs, turtles, muskrats, minks and beavers that are long-term residents. With deer mice and ground squirrels living in the grasses adjacent to wetlands and fish swimming in open water, this ecosystem is a favourite of osprey, eagles and hawks.

Let’s not forget about the itty bitty creatures that wiggle in wetland waters. Aquatic invertebrates, such as dragonfly nymphs and snails form the base of the wetland food chain and are equally as fascinating as other wetland life.

We know them as broadleaf cattail, bulrush, common bulrush, common cattail, cat-o’-nine-tails, great reedmace, cooper’s reed and cumbungi; their real name is Typha latifolia

Wetlands are masters at carbon sequestration
This process sucks in carbon and stores it in wetland soil. Unlike when a sibling hogs all the crayons, we are happy that wetlands hog carbons because it helps to regulate the climate. But, not all wetlands are equally skilled at holding onto carbon. Peatlands, including fens and bogs, collect ‘peat’ or partially decomposed plants and other organic matter (aka a wack tonne of carbon).

When peatlands are drained for agriculture, forestry or peat harvesting, carbon and nitrogen are released as greenhouse gases in the form of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Approximately 25% of the world’s peatand are in Canada alone, with the Hudson Bay Lowlands as one of the worlds largest peatland systems.

Wetlands act like giant sponges
Another wetland superpower is their ability to act like a giant sponge. When the clouds open up and rain pours down, wetlands are able to absorb excess water. This means that wetlands act as a buffer against flooding. Now imagine the reverse situation. It’s dry and the land is parched, wetlands are able to release water back into the environment. In addition to their spongy talents, wetlands act as a protective barrier from storm surges along coastlines.

So much so that the mouth of Riviere du Nord in northern New Brunswick is being converted back to its natural state as a salt marsh.

Part of the Boardwalk at Point Pelee National Park

If we protect wetlands, it means that we get to enjoy all they have to offer! In the summer, they provide endless entertainment for recreational birders, photographers and casual park users with parades of waterfowl chicks and spats between Canadian geese. The water and wildlife can be explored by gliding through the wetland in canoes and kayaks.

Wetlands welcome family activities like pond-dipping to explore and learn about all the little creatures living in the marsh. In the winter, the frozen waters of wetlands can provide a surface for skating while the snow covered grasses surrounding wetlands provide the perfect opportunity to snowshoe and cross-country ski.

The wetlands are now facing real risk as the result of provincial government legislation.

Parts of the province where the risk becomes very real.

Related news story:

Are police investigating the purchase of are pieces of property. 

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Ontario Land Tribunal puts a stop to the re-development of the Waterfront Hotel site

By Pepper Parr

January 6th, 2023



The Ontario Land Tribunal issues an order that puts a halt to the plans to redevelop the Waterfront Hotel site.

What was it all about?

There is a short version and a long version of this story.

Darko Vranich

The short version is that the developer, Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc., owned by Vrancorp which is controlled by Darko Vranich.

The owners of the Waterfront Hotel, Vrancor Group Inc., made an application to the city for a change to the Official Plan and a change to the zoning of the property which was on Lakeshore Road at the bottom of Brant Street.

The application was filed (all the relevant dates are set out below in chronological order) on October 22nd, 2021.

The Planning department reviewed the application and sent a report to council saying the application was not complete and therefore should not be approved.

This is where the words “made” and “received “become part of the story.

The City argued that “received” and “made” are different words and that it is impossible for an application to be “made” before it is “received” by a Municipality. The City stated an applicant cannot “make” an application until the Municipality “receives” the materials in support of the application.

And that is where the application ran afoul of the rules.

Because between the date that the development was first filed – and found to be incomplete and the date that a complete application was filed the Minister of Municipal and Housing change a key document – which he had the right to do.

That’s the short version. If you like getting into the weeds – read on.

There are three different levels of government involved in the settling of this issue: The province where the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has jurisdiction.

The Regional government which is required to have an ROP (Regional Official Plan) that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing approves.

The city has an Official Plan that must comply with the Regional Plan

Located at the foot pf Brant Street on Lakeshore Road, the two towers would have loomed over Spencer Smith Park.

The development application was submitted by Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. to demolish the existing hotel and restaurant and construct a new mixed- use building in a 2-tower format atop a 5-6 storey podium, with tower heights ranging from 30-35 storeys, and associated underground parking.

The arguments as to whether the application was acceptable were heard by video hearing November 1, 2022 before Ontario Land Tribunal member D. Chipman.  Regional Municipality of Halton, Bridgewater Hospitality Inc. and The Pearle Hotel & Spa Inc. were part of the proceedings

While the OLT hearing began when the city brought before the Tribunal a Notice of Motion dated October 7, 2022 it was the events that took place much earlier that brought things to this point.

This was the Urban Growth Centre boundary in place before the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing moved the boundary closer to the Burlington GO station

Through the motion, the City was seeking a ruling by the Tribunal that an application “made” under the Planning Act is only “made” once all materials required to be filed with the City
The date the Applications are “made” will determine whether the Urban Growth Centre (“UGC”) policies of the Halton OP apply to these Applications.

This was the battle ground – a site labelled as ground zero for Burlington by the developers planning consultant.

The motion is made in the context of the decision of the Minister to approve ROPA 48 with modifications, pursuant to his authority under the Planning Act. The Minister’s Decision moved the UGC in the Halton OP from Downtown Burlington which included the Waterfront Hotel property, to an area centred around the Burlington GO Station, which did not include the Waterfront Hotel property.

The Minister’s Decision included a transition provision, which deems the UGC policies in the Halton OP continue to apply to applications “made” by an applicant on or before the date of the Minister’s Decision, which was November 10, 2021) If the lands that are the subject of the application (Waterfront Hotel) were within the UGC prior to the date of the Minister’s decision. The development application was deemed to be complete on December 17th.

In August 2020, the City requested that the Region adjust the boundary of the Downtown Burlington UGC to generally align with the lands in proximity to the Burlington GO Station.

February 2021 – Region released ROPA 48 for public review. The draft instrument under consideration at that time proposed to shift the Downtown UGC north and remove the Downtown MTSA with no transition provision for existing applications being proposed.

April 28, 2021 – the City attended a pre-consultation meeting with the Applicant to determine the requirements for complete Applications to facilitate the Applicant’s proposed development on the Subject Property.

May 5, 2021 – a pre-consultation package that was provided to the Applicant which identified materials required to file for the Applications to be deemed complete.

June 9, 2021, and June 16, 2021 – public consultation meetings were held.

July 7, 2021 – Halton Council adopted ROPA 48, which introduces 96 amendments to the Halton OP including Strategic Growth Areas, such as UGCs, Major Transit Station Areas (“MTSA”), Regional Nodes and Employment Areas.

October 22, 2021, Developer files application which included the 29 materials, reports, and studies required.  These materials included a Planning and Urban Design Rationale Report, dated October 2021.

October 26, 2021, the Applicant submitted the fees required to be paid to the City in connection with the Applications.

The Urban Growth Centre was moved north – because of the date that decision was made and the date on which the application to redevelop the hotel site was submitted the future growth in the downtown core will not be the same.

November 10, 2021, the Minister approved ROPA 48 with eight (8) modifications, w On

November 10, 2021, the Minister approved ROPA 48 with eight modifications that included the relocation of the UGC from Downtown Burlington to the area centred around the Burlington GO Station which meant the hotel site would no longer be within an UGC or a MTSA..

Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

The Minister’s Decision was final and not subject to appeal

November 23, 2021 Burlington staff delivered a report recommending that Council deem the Applications incomplete, since certain required information and materials identified in the pre-consultation package had not been provided to the City by the Applicant. These included: (i) a Phase Two Environmental Site Assessment; (ii) a Park Concept Plan; and (iii) an Angular Plane Study.

November 23, 2021 the City notified the Applicant in writing that the Applications had been deemed incomplete on the basis that not all of the information and materials required by the Planning Act and the Burlington OP had been submitted.

December 17, 2021 – The Applicant files the additional information and materials.

December 22, 2021 – Applicant filed a motion with the Tribunal seeking a determination by the Tribunal that the Applications, as filed on October 26, 2021, were made as of that date.

January 18, 2022 – Burlington Council at its meeting of January 18, 2022, deemed the Applications complete as of December 17, 2021

During the hearing Counsel for the City stated that the Applications did not meet the requirements as set out under the Planning Act, prior to the Minister’s approval of Amendment 48 (November 10, 2021). The City stated its position that the Applications, as required by the Planning Act and the Burlington OP were only “made” once all materials been submitted.

The Planning Act and deems that an application is only “made” once it is complete.

City Counsel outlined that this information and material can include, without limitation, the reports, studies and other documents listed in the Burlington OP.

The City submitted that “received” and “made” are different words and that it is impossible for an application to be “made” before it is “received” by a Municipality. The City stated an applicant cannot “make” an application until the Municipality “receives” the materials in support of the application.

It was the City’s position that the Minister’s Decision, made on November 10th, expressly provides that an Official Plan Amendment application is not “received” until all of the information and materials required to be provided to the Municipality are, provided.

Counsel emphasized that the additional information and materials outstanding were provided to Burlington Council through a Planning Report at its meeting of January 18, 2022.
In its decision the Tribunal said: Having been provided a very thorough chronology of the submissions by both the Applicant and the City, the Tribunal prefers the position of the City and in doing so, grants the Motion.

THE TRIBUNAL ORDERS that the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment applications filed with the City of Burlington by the Applicant Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. with respect to its lands at 2020 Lakeshore Road are hereby deemed to have been made on December 17, 2021, subsequent to the decision dated November 10, 2021, of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing approving and modifying the Region of Halton Official Plan.

That was it. To proceed with the development Vrancorp would have to file a new application.

Expect the Tribunal decision to be appealed – in the meantime nothing gets built – no shovels in the ground.

But maybe an opportunity to take a deeper look into just how Waterfront Hotel site can best be developed to keep everyone happy.

Related news stories:

Are there other options?

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The evolution of a piece of land on the south side of Lakeshore Road.

News 100 redMarch 8, 2016

By Pepper Parr


We knew it as the location of the Riviera.

The Riviera Motor Court began operations in 1963. The two level, 32-room motel offered guests a beautiful view of Lake Ontario along the back portion of the motel.

The earliest information for a manager was a Mr. William Dikeman. In 1984 the motel was bought by Mr. John Lee who incorporated it as 558644 Ontario Limited.

Riviera from front

The Riviera on the Lake – lots of stories.

The last managers to operate the business were Peter and Yolanda Piekarski. Annual profits were in the area of $242,000.

Riviera balcony west side

The balconies at the rear of the motel made the room rate worth every dime.

There was nothing exceptional about the motel – it was the view of the lake from the units at the back of the building.

The 0.7-hectare, block-long property between Elizabeth and Pearl streets just east of Brant was assembled over time. The Lakeshore Road portion was part of a land swap that had the city giving some land in exchange for a shoreline walkway at the edge of the lake which has been in place for a number of years.

Sales office Bridgewater

When you reach the 70% plus level in sales you don’t need a fancy demonstration site – it had to make room for the construction equipment.

In 2006, Burlington city council approved plans for a new construction project on the property. The project, now known as Bridgewater, has been delayed over the years due to economic factors as well as difficulty in obtaining a developer and hotel partner.

Bridgewater - sales office gone BEST

Construction workers stripping away what is left of the sales office for the Btidgewater project on Lakeshore Road.

Bridgewater was to have a 7-storey hotel at street level, that got increased to eight storeys; a 7-storey condo behind the hotel and to the west of both buildings, a 22-storey condo. The condo would obscure the view of Lake Ontario for those living in the condos on the opposite side of Lakeshore. The new buildings would feature a central courtyard open to the public that would lead to the walkway along the water.

The property is owned by Mayrose Tycon who, since 1994, were focused on finding a developer to undertake the construction and to take over the property.
Mady Development Corporation was named but they were taken off the site due to a tricky clause in their agreement with Mayrose Tycon.


The motel is long gone but the walkway that will eventually run from this point all the way to the canal was built a number of years ago as part of a land swap with the city.

The project was “in the works” for the longest time; Conservation Halton had informed Mayrose that if development did not occur on the property by the end of 2012 they would lose between 15 to 20 feet of shoreline property under a new Ontario Regulation.

That got things moving – Mayrose had to get an extension from the Conservation people but that didn’t immediately result in shovels in the ground. It wasn’t until New Horizons was invited to develop the site that one got the sense that this was really going to happen.

Jeff Paikin, known for quality work with a number of solid projects under his belt.

Paikin had bought a unit in the project and was later invited to do the development.

It has been nothing but solid progress since then. Sales of the project are reported to have passed the 70% point. There will a planned 150 units in the two condominium towers.

Bridgewater - consruction equipment - 12 pieces

A collection of 12 pieces of heavy duty construction equipment are on the site – they give a whole new meaning to “shovels in the ground”

Paikin’s partner Joe Giacomodonato handles the actual construction work.

At one point the hotel was going to be open for the Pan Am Games in 2015.

As for the Riviera the writing was on the wall in 2010. They began offering rooms on a monthly basis only. The Region of Burlington paid Riviera to house the city’s homeless people and immigrants.

In April of 2012 the municipal building code department and fire department served a notice on the owners that they needed to bring the building up to code or close it down.

The owners decided to close the building which was boarded up.

On August 18, 2012, the building came one step closer to demolition when a fire broke out in the hotel, caused by arson.

The 2015 Pan Am date came and went; the designated developer of the site changed but the project had just too much value built into it to not go forward.

Three structure project has been the "in the works" since 1985 when developers were given the right to build a 22 storey plus building on the property where the Riviera Waterfront Motel used to exist.

Three structure project has been the “in the works” since the early 1990’s when developers were given the right to build a 22 storey plus building on the property where the Riviera Waterfront Motel used to exist.

Last week the sleek sales office met its turn with the wrecking ball. The south side of Lakeshore Road lost its parking meters and traffic is being restricted for a couple of weeks while large concrete pipes get buried. What was the Riviera is now the construction site for an upscale condominium that will consist of a seven story and a twenty two story structure attached to each other by a four level underground garage.

The site will include a four star Mariott hotel – the opening date is still pencilled in as 2018 – those things tend to be pretty loose until construction is well under way.

The four floors down garage work will get started soon; the grade of Elizabeth will change and slowly but surely the Bridgewater will rise out of the ground and reach 22 storeys into the sky.

The 22 storey structire that is due to be built on the waters edge will forever change the look of the city. For the better?

An architectural rendering of an aerial view of the Bridgewater project from the lake side.

The view from the top floor be something to experience.

Paikin, who is a marketer at heart will tell anyone who is within earshot that : “The design is so fantastic and the location is probably the No. 1 location in all of Ontario, if not Canada, as a place to live.”

He might be right.

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Plans to review the Regional - Municipal relationship on the delivery of services put on hold - might stay there

By Pepper Parr

September 11th, 2023



Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra

The province may not move forward with a review of six regions with both upper- and lower-tier municipal governments. In a statement released earlier today Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing said he will be reviewing the move announced by his predecessor to appoint facilitators to assess regional governments in Durham, Halton, Waterloo, York and Niagara regions and Simcoe County.

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing said today that he “wants to ensure the province’s approach supports the goal of getting homes built quickly in those fast-growing areas.

The previous minister, Steve Clark, said last month that the facilitators in the six regions would be appointed by today, but the change in plans comes a week after
Clark resigned amid the fallout of two scathing reports on Greenbelt land swaps.

Burlington City Council had an item on a Standing Committee agenda with considerable detail and how the process of determining if administrative efficiencies could be achieved.

City Manager Tim Commisso – might not have to undergo a review of what his working relationship with the Region is going to be.

The overall framework and approach being recommended for developing a regional review strategy and resultant City of Burlington submission to the regional facilitator is based on the consideration of service delivery options or categories.

This may never come to pass which would make the We Love Burlington group happy.  They opposed the idea when it was before the public back in 2019

Related news story:

We Love Burlington

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After an hour on his feet Premier Ford left the podium knowing that his 'we are going to build homes' message was never in doubt

By Pepper Parr

September 6th, 2023



The Premier started his hour long media event sating: “They’re the right team to get it done” and went on to congratulate, at length, all the people who had been brought into his Cabinet or given new roles as Cabinet members.

He couldn’t say enough about them.

Premier Doug Ford on his feet for more than an hour with close to 1000 people listening to the web cast.

I want to congratulate ministers taking on new portfolios and welcome members of caucus who are new to the cabinet table. As Minister of long term care Minister Paul Calandra has been hard at work for residents and their families. Under his leadership, shovels are in the ground to build new long term care homes across Ontario, with new homes for over 10,000 seniors currently under construction. Ontario is on track to be the first province in Canada to deliver an average of four hours of resident care per day as we bring on 1000s of new nurses and personal support workers. For the first time, we’re bringing diagnostic services to residents rather than disrupting and moving them to appointments.

Its clear Minister Calandra has a proven record of delivering on tough assignments. He has a proven record of getting it done. He’s going to bring this same get it done approach to Municipal Affairs and Housing as he takes on the housing supply crisis, the biggest challenge facing governments in Canada.

Caroline Mulroney: President of the Treasury Board;

I also want to congratulate Caroline Mulroney, as President of the Treasury Board, where she’ll apply her years of work in the private sector and financial markets to her new jobs standing up for Ontario taxpayers. It’s incredibly important role and one of the most important in government and there’s no better suited person than Minister Mulroney

Congratulations to Prabmeet Sarkaria as Minister of Transportation who will continue Caroline’s great work and who knows firsthand from his constituents, the importance of building highway 413 alongside the Bradford bypass.

Congratulations to Stan Cho, who has done amazing work as an Associate Minister and will continue the work of supporting long term care home residents and their families. By building 1000s of new homes for our seniors.

He congratulated Rob Flack, Todd McCarthy and Nina Tangri, who are taking on important new roles associate ministers to build attainable homes modular homes, build transit, and support small businesses.

Steve Clark: “want to thank him for being such an important part of our team.”

I also want to give my gratitude to Steve Clark for his years of service and cabinet. I’ve always had so much respect for Steve, his dedication to his community and his unwavering belief in Ontario. His decision to step away couldn’t have been easy, but it only demonstrates his integrity, his maturity and his commitment to our province. For that I want to thank him for being such an important part of our team.

As I’ve said since day one of receiving the auditor general’s report, and as I’ve said again, after the integrity commissioners report, the process we use to make changes to the Greenbelt could have been better, the process should have been better. It’s why we agreed to implement all 14 recommendations from the Auditor General to improve our processes. At the same time have also said that nothing matters more than building homes. You’ve heard me say it before, Ontario is growing at a breakneck speed.

Last year alone we added 500,000 more people. And as we grow, we need to build at least 1.5 million new homes or the dream of homeownership for newcomers and young families in particular will slip further away. Our government will never stop working to build homes for our growing province. As we do. We’ll also do what’s needed to ensure that the people of Ontario that people will never stop serving, have confidence in the decisions we’re making.

When the previous government introduced the Greenbelt, they put in legislation, that mandated the province review it at least every 10 years.
I’ve asked my new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to launch this review. And as part of this process, reevaluate the remaining land swap sites. These sites will have to survive on their own merit. Last week, when we started the process of putting the Ajax lands back into the Greenbelt, we made it very clear. We have no tolerance for anyone who does anything that doesn’t support building homes quickly.

Minister Calandra will spend the coming days and weeks working with his officials to design and launch this review. It’ll be informed by recommendations put forward by the auditor general as ministry officials design and launch this review the government’s nonpartisan non political facilitator will continue her work (the facilitator was not named) with the remaining landowners and home builders. In fact, her work to ensure the landowners pay for important community infrastructure like parks, community centers, schools and hospitals will be an important part of this review.

Newcomers are struggling to find a place to live, young families not able to buy their starter home. That’s who we’re working for. That’s who will never stop working for.

Questions from reporters followed.

Rob Ferguson, Toronto Star. So this reevaluation and review of the Greenbelt lands will be a full and proper process? Well, what role will the housing Minister’s Chief of Staff play? What role will the bureaucrats play? What role will other land use planning experts play? And how will it be different from what just happened?

Premier: Well, we’re gonna go through the government, deputy ministers and government officials to review all lands. The mandate back in 2005was to review every 10 years. We’re following the recommendations of the Auditor General and we’ll continue to follow the recommendations – there’s going to be a complete review from top to bottom and then they’re gonna have to stand on their own merit. And it’s not just the 14 lands, it’s going to be the seven or 800 lands right across the board.

Reporter: Did you know that Steve Clark was going to resign yesterday morning or were you taken by surprise when it appeared on Twitter?

Ford: “No, Steve Clark called me. It shows the integrity, and the maturity of Steve Clark. He thought it’d be best for the government and for his family and his constituents that he step aside.

Laura Stone, Globe and Mail. I just want to be absolutely clear here. Are you pausing all development or assessment for development on these lands that you have removed? What are you doing? Are you not going ahead with your plan to develop on the ground?

Premier: The provincial facilitator will continue working with the landowners and the builders to move forward but it’s going to be based on the merits – they’re going to review the whole process, not just the 14 lands, the seven or 800 applications.

And they’ll be able to sit down and talk to stakeholders be indigenous communities, people that need homes. We’ll be talking to communities, and we’ll do a complete review.

Reporter: So is it possible that you would open up other lands for development as part of this review?

Premier: Well, first of all, we’re gonna see what the review says at the end of the review, and we’ll analyze it that will be up to the Minister to make that decision.

Colin Global News. I wanted to ask you about the mandate letter that you gave to Steve Clark in 2022. It specifically asked him to open up lands in the Greenbelt. Did he have the power to say no to that mandate letter?

Premier: Every minister has the opportunity to sit down with myself. I’m pretty accessible. I’m probably the most accessible premier that’s ever existed. I take calls from my MPPs, I take calls from my ministers. I take calls from mayors right across this province and I listen to their concerns. We have a great working relationship with 444 mayors and wardens across this province. I’m in constant communication with them, not just about building homes, even though that’s the number one issue.

Reporter: I wanted to ask about the relationship between the government and the owners of those 15 parcels of land. Did your government enter into any legally binding contracts with those owners to stipulate that they would have to build X amount of housing on that land? Was there a contract between the Ontario government and the owners or is it just a handshake?

Premier: That’s going to be up to the facilitator to make sure that these lands include community centers, hospitals, long term care parks, and that’s something that we wouldn’t be able to do. If a builder down the street for instance, decides to build. We don’t go up and say you got to build this you got to build that. We rely on the municipalities to build homes, to make sure that they get the permits out in a timely fashion.

We’ve given them every single tool possible to make sure makes their life easier to get homes built. And that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna make sure that we build those 1.5 million homes for people.

We’re going to go across the country to make sure that if there are modular home builders I want to bring them into Ontario.

Blaine Higgs, the premier of New Brunswick, that told me that they have for companies that build modular homes in New Brunswick, and after we exhaust all other avenues, we’re gonna go to the US and encourage them to open up their plants in Ontario to build modular homes.

Reporter, Trillium news Minister Clarke resigned for not keeping a close enough eye on his staff and letting this whole process get out of hand but your mandate letter told Minister Clark to come up with, and I’m quoting, “processes for swaps, expansions, contractions and policy updates for the Green Belt and to finish it all by fall 2022.”

Did you or anyone in your office communicate with Clark’s office along the way ? So are you not guilty of the same thing that Minister Clark resigned over?

Premier: I have confidence and our ministers. I don’t believe in micromanaging ministers that have confidence in our ministers and to follow the process. You know, Minister Clark came out admitted the process wasn’t, there. It could have been better. I came out and said the process wasn’t there.

We’ve taken 14 recommendations from the Auditor General. We’re moving as we speak on those 14 recommendations. And we’re gonna do a complete review of all lands in the Greenbelt, as it was mandated by the previous government.

We’re going to make sure that we review every single aspect of making sure that we follow the process.

But the most important thing is the people that are hurting out there that can afford a home on top of the interest rates that we’re seeing 10 hikes from the Bank of Canada in 18 months. You know, I pleaded with the Bank of Canada, the governor, go out there, talk to the average person like I do,meet the people that are struggling. People that can’t afford a mortgage, because the rate hikes, not just the hikes, but the speed that it did it at 10 hikes I can’t remember in living memory that the Bank of Canada or the governor raised rates 10 times in 18 months. If we don’t see a stop, people will lose their homes. They’re struggling, mortgages have doubled.

The federal government which is separate from the Bank of Canada should be investing in infrastructure like the 413 to get goods from point A to point B in a more efficient manner to make sure people can get home a lot quicker than rather than being stuck on the highway the 401 or stuck on the 400.

That’s the reason we’re investing over $30 billion unprecedented in building highways be at 413. The Bradford bypass high widening highway three expanding highway seven building highway seven from Kitchener all the way to Guelph, our province is growing like we’ve never seen. We’re the fastest growing region in North America, bar none. We have to make sure that we build the infrastructure. We’re building $70 billion of transit; the largest transit expansion in North America. There’s no one that comes close to that. We already have shovels in the ground on the Ontario line. That’s unprecedented at the speed that we’re moving. I can’t remember the last time any government is building subways and tunneling at the speed we’re doing. And we’re going to continue pouring money into infrastructure.

We’ve invested over $184 billion in infrastructure that includes $50 billion building 50 new hospitals and additions to those hospitals never been done before. That’s what we’re focusing on.

Reporter: I’d like to ask about the ongoing work of the facilitator integrity commission report said you guys have eight agreements in principle with the landowners. If these are still going forward. Will you commit to publicly releasing these agreements once they’re finalized?

Premier: Once they’re finalized, we’ll release them. We’re going to show how these builders these landowners are going to spend billions of dollars in supporting the community that they’re building. They’re going to be building parks, community centers; they’re going to be building hospitals and long term care.

The nonpartisan facilitator will be working hand in hand but we’ll also be reviewing all other applications right across the Greenbelt, like the previous government mandated, it should be reviewed every 10 years.

McIntosh from the Narwhal. So the housing affordability Task Force found that cutting into the Greenbelt isn’t necessary that Ontario already has enough land. But it did make 55 other recommendations, your government’s only finished three of them. Why not do that, instead of opening up Greenbelt land or reinstate rent control on newer buildings to improve affordability?

Premier: Thank you for that question. They did have so many recommendations. We’re going through 30 of them already. We’re going to follow up on the other 40 We’re working as we speak right now, but in saying that, even the person that headed the review would admit right now, when they did that review, they didn’t expect a half a million people show up to our doors.

And I always say that’s a conservative estimate. I believe it’s closer to 800,000. As a CIBC report came out saying we need to continue building homes right now with the volume that we’re seeing. And over the next 10 years at minimum, there’ll be five to six million people coming to our province. We do not have enough lands to be able to build enough homes for over five to six million people. Our number one goal for the people of Ontario, is to make sure they have affordable homes, have modular homes that they are going to be able to live in. I call them starter homes. They’re going to be basic homes, and they’re going to be affordable and attainable homes of under $500,000. They’ll be able to walk in through their front door, put the key in, they’re going to have a backyard. They’re going to have a finished basement that they can use as a rental unit. That’s what we’re going to focus on. But it’s not about just modular homes. It’s about building a community having more rentals that people can afford. We had more rental starts than we’ve seen in decades. We’re doing the right thing for the people that can’t afford our homes right now. We’re gonna fight for the hard working blue collar people that are getting killed right now by the interest rates from the Bank of Canada.

We’re gonna stand on their side. We’re going to make sure it comes down to supply and demand that we all know that’s out there. Right now. We’re gonna flood the market with new homes right across this province

Reporter: premier when it comes to Greenbelt land doing this review the reports from the Integrity Commissioner and the Auditor General found that you know, you and minister Clark were not in control of what the government was doing as you undertake this new review. How can Ontarians trust that you are in control now?

Premier: Well, let me first answer the first question that I’ll get to the second question about trust. We’re going to work with our government officials where we’ve already admitted numerous times and I’ve said it today, I’ll say it again – I wasn’t happy with the process. We’re correcting the process and the 14 recommendations. Now let me tell you about trust and why the people can trust this government. You know, results speak for themselves. Folks. When we took office back in 2018 we inherited a bankrupt company. We had a healthcare system that was totally broken. Move forward to 2023 we’ve added over 3000 beds we’re adding another 3200 beds. We’ve hired and registered 60,000 new nurses 8000 new doctors registered last year alone 15,000 nurses which was a record registered here in Ontario, as I mentioned earlier we’re the only government that’s putting $50 billion no matter where you live in Ontario. You’re either getting a brand new hospital, or you’re getting in addition to a hospital. The previous government stopped talking to the Ontario Medical Association We have a great relationship but they all may. We’re in constant communication with the Ontario Hospital Association and the CEOs.

We’re making sure that when you go get a prescription, you don’t have to go to your doctor to get the most common prescriptions. You can go into a pharmacy and get them and we’re going to expand on that. We’re making sure that we’re giving people opportunities on diagnostics, that we’re gonna have convenient care closer to home. We’re changing the education system for parents. We’re making sure through the great leadership of Minister Lecce that we’re investing right now. $500 million building 100 new schools and that’s going to continue.

Over $700 million more is being spent on hiring educators. We’ve hired you know, 1000s and 1000s of new educators over 8000 this year alone. We are going to hire an additional 2000 educators.

We have three credit agencies that have given us a positive report for the first time in decades. Folks, when I took office, companies were leaving the province in droves – 300,000 families lost their jobs. They couldn’t get hired because companies were leaving in the droves. General Motors Oshawa closed their plant and left. The other ones are ready to leave. But we came in and we changed the system.

We took $8 billion of burden off the backs of companies to invest back here in Ontario. Since then $25 billion of investments in the automotive sector, in the EV sector has been invested in Ontario because they have confidence in our government. We’ll see probably in the next year $3 billion in life sciences, no matter if it’s Moderna or if it’s AstraZeneca, or any of the other pharmaceutical companies Roche investing here and creating more jobs.

The tech sector has grown to overtake Silicon Valley, San Francisco Bay Area. We now employ more people than anywhere in North America. We’re leading North America in job creation and economic development compared to back in 2018. As I mentioned, we’re spending $184 billion previous governments totally ignored it. We’re building for subway lines we’re spending over $70 billion in transit expanding GO train service. We’re just expanding $30 billion, the highways and roads and bridges. And when it comes to long term care, the previous government and their whole mandate of 15 years built about 600 homes for long term care. We’re going to build 30,000 homes that seniors can call home that we’re renovating long term care homes right across the board.
We we’ve graduated over 65,000 STEM graduates we’ve given the support to the colleges and universities that we have the best in the entire world. That’s just a few of the things. Our track record speaks for itself. That’s the reason the people of Ontario can trust our government.

Reporter: Alan Hale from Queen’s Park Today. So just to be clear, you’re saying that this is not a backtrack of any kind you’re not giving into demands for a revisit of the Greenbelt. This is a review that you would have been doing anyway.

Premier: We’re going to review the whole system including the 14 properties.

We’re going to review all the properties; we’re going to acknowledge the process wasn’t up to snuff by any means. We’re going to make sure that all properties are reviewed to make sure they stand on their merit, and that’s what we’re going to look at.

Reporter: You talk about how you don’t want to micromanage your ministers, but given the fact that you have had one minister give himself and many of your caucus and some other party loyalists,the title of King’s Council without you apparently knowing and now you’ve let another minister sleepwalk you into a scandal where it looks to many people like a corrupt deal has happened and maybe is it time for you to maybe check in a bit more with what your ministers are doing and read documents before they come to cabinet.

Premier: Well, thank you for that question. First of all King’s Counsel; people don’t care. I’m gonna be very frank about having KC beside their name that’s really in the legal sector.

We’re gonna make sure at the end of the day, we have the best interest of the people at heart. That’s the reason folks were building these homes.

We see a crisis; the other party’s, the Greens, the NDP and the Liberals put us in an absolute disastrous position in 2018. When I took office, we’re fixing everything that was broken. They don’t have a solution. All they do is get up and complain and criticize. Ask them what is your solution? We have a solution. We have a plan. The plan is working. The plan is working in healthcare. The plan is working long term care and transportation infrastructure, education, colleges and universities and I can go on and on and on. We’ve corrected the problems of the previous government of 15 years that destroyed this province. No one in the world wanted to invest in Ontario.

I work hand in hand with everyone.  I have a message at the Bank of Canada. You want to destroy people’s lives. You want to watch people go bankrupt and lose their homes. Just raise the interest rates. It’s going to be on your hands. We don’t need any more interest rates being raised what we need is infrastructure money to build highways. That’s what we need.

Reporter: Richard Southern. You said today that Ontarians can trust you but you’ve never told Ontarians exactly what you weren’t happy about with this process for three weeks. You’ve just said I’m not happy with the process. In your own words today. Can you tell us what went wrong here?

Premier: Well, there was 14 recommendations and I said we’re going to follow those 14 recommendations. You know, it was very clear with the auditor general’s report, the integrity commissioners report which I have a great deal of respect for the Integrity Commissioner, that these are the recommendations that they’re putting forward. You know, we realize it – we admit our mistakes. I’ve come out here with apologize.

We’re moving forward. But nothing is more important than building homes. And we have a record of getting it done. As sure as I’m standing here, folks, there’s going to be people that are going to be able to afford a home and attainable home. There’s going to be more rentals than there’s ever been. That’s our responsibility to make sure that we give the tools to the mayors and the wardens and councils all across this province. Get the tools to build homes. There’s no more important issue to the people of Ontario right now. There’s no more important issue for our government than to build homes. That people can afford at a reasonable interest rate.

Reporter: I didn’t get an answer there premier but I want to ask you about your new cabinet. Is shuffling Miss Mulroney out of transportation. Is that an acknowledgement about some failings on the Eglington Crosstown and are we any closer to finding out when the Crosstown is going to open?

Portions of the elevated part of the new subway line

The Crosstown had time line problems – has yet to be completed.

Premier: I’ll answer that in two parts. First of all, let’s talk about the Crosstown: GO CEO Phil Verster will be out frequently giving the people of Ontario an update. And as for Minister Mulroney. I think her record speaks for itself. You know something I’ve had the opportunity to know Minister Mulroney for the last five years. And make no mistake about it. She’s a brilliant person. She’s worked in the private sector. She’s worked in the financial sectors. And again, her record speaks for itself. Before we took office. There was no plans ever to build subways, under her watch under her leadership there’s four lines being built. There’s expansion and GP train services across our province to the tune of $70 billion. The reason that people in southwestern Ontario are getting highway three widen is because of Minister Mulroney’s leadership, the reason that we’re building the Bradford bypass that’s Minister Mulroney, the reason we’re doing 413 is Minister Mulroney. The reason we’re building highway seven that governments have talked about for years from Kitchener to Guelph is because Minister Mulroney She’s done an incredible job in transportation portfolio. She’s going to do an incredible job watching every single penny for the taxpayers of this province.

Reporter: Shavon Morris, CTV News. You said that lands will have to pass on their own merits. Can you explain what that means exactly given what we saw in the auditor general’s report and the integrity commissioners report that lands were removed from the Greenbelt that didn’t pass the kind of basics, first servicing and then speed of development.

Premier: First of all, I want to re emphasize the Greenbelt has expanded, it has not shrunk. There’s 2000 more acres in the Greenbelt that didn’t exist before. And as for the merit, we’re putting together a process, a process through government officials that we’re going to make sure that the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted. We’re gonna make sure that there’s merit to every application that comes forward. But in saying that again nothing is more important than building homes for the people of Ontario.

Reporter: There are lots of pictures online now of you and former Clarington Mayor John Mutton, can you shed any kind of light as to what role he might have had in having lands removed from the Greenbelt?

Premier: Well, this is a message to anyone any other see work that people do. If you don’t follow the rules, then you’re going to be held accountable and I encouraged the Integrity Commissioner to hold people accountable who don’t follow the rules.

Folks, I meet with 1000s and 1000s 10s of 1000s of people every single year in every sector, no matter if it’s the health care sector, manufacturing sector. You know, making sure that we’re building homes and endless amounts of sectors. I meet with a common folks do you know what I do? I want to find out what the people are doing. I don’t go in with anyone I don’t go in with my detail or anything. I can wander the local Walmart’s, the Home Depot’s – I go into the Sobeys and the Loblaws and the metros to talk to people. I go into the Canadian Tires. That’s where you get how people are feeling. You don’t sit here in a bubble. You don’t not give your phone number out. I talk to 1000s and 1000s of people. I hear what’s going on. I talked to endless people on the weekends by going out into public and hearing what they have to say. And let me tell you something. I’ll tell you what the priorities are. Number one priority is home ownership. Affordability, affordability, when you go to the gas pumps.

I want to work with the federal government when we build these homes to eliminate the HST well the GST on their behalf and we’ll do the same to make it more affordable. We want to make sure that when they go to a municipality on development fees, they don’t get charged $130,000 to put shovels in the ground.

Reporter: Allison Jones with the Canadian Press. How long do you expect this review will take if every Greenbelt parcel is going to be part of it?

Premier announced that not only are the sites taken out of the Greenbelt going to be reviewed – everything is going to be reviewed.


Premier: Well, I’ve said it very clear, if we don’t see movement on the parcels that we see that will be under review that will have to stand on merit. Then they’re going back into the Greenbelt. I did it with the Ajax lands.

They’re going back and just a message to the 14 owners of this property. If I don’t see movement, you’re going back into the Greenbelt.

This isn’t about the builders. I don’t give two hoots about the builders, but they’re part of the process. Eliminate them. We don’t have homes. So we’re going to make sure that they follow the process that the facilitator is putting out, making sure that they’re investing billions of dollars. There won’t be a penny spent of government money when they put in the roads when they put in the water pipes and the sewer pipes. That’s going to be on them. All I want are more homes for the people. We have a crisis. You come up to Rexdale there’s 160 People living up at the mall. They’re newcomers, asylum seekers and a message to the Government of Canada. This is an emergency. You have to get these people working permits. They want a better life in Ontario, but they can’t be sitting in some mall living there without being able to have a shower.

It’s about the young people that are graduating of a university that are going to get a job that can’t afford a home. They’re gonna be living in their parents basement for the next 10 years. If we don’t build more homes, that’s what I care about. I don’t care about anything else. I care about the people. That’s why I got elected. And we’re going to continue focusing on what matters to the people.

Reporter: I just want to be clear on the timeline. So development is going to continue on these 14 parcels, while a review is underway to determine if they should in fact have been taken out of the Greenbelt based on merit.

Premier: The facilitator is going to be working, as she is right now, making sure that they have a responsibility to pay for the roads and the sewers, the community centers, the school’s the hospitals and long term care homes. And it’s going to be based on merit and all the other applications are right now.

There’s about seven or 800 applications, folks, there’s nowhere in the entire world outside of I don’t know, I guess Communist China and North Korea that a government comes in with no consultation and takes two million acres of privately held property off people. We’re going to review it.

Nothing should get in the way of building homes. As fast as we can. That’s what matters. A year down the road, folks, you’re going to see homes being built at an unprecedented rate. We’re going to make sure that there’s supply to meet the demands of over 500,000 new people that want to go out there and rent a condo or apartment or even better buy a condo or apartment, buy an affordable starter home. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to exhaust every single avenue we’re gonna use every single tool we have in our toolbox to make sure that happens. The worst thing we can do folks, is sit back, throw up the white flag and say we aren’t doing it. That’s not what I’m about. That’s not what our governments about. Our government is about working for the hard working blue collar folks. That I meet in factories every single week that I meet in the malls that I meet in the stores that I go into.

Reporter: Lorenda Redekop, CBC News. You praise Minister Clark’s integrity and his resignation but this wasn’t something you called for. You also didn’t call for his former Chief of Staff’s resignation. You stood behind both of them. What does this mean when it comes to your integrity?

Former Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: Steve Clark

Premier: Something I believe strongly in is the work that Minister Clark has done from the day he got elected. When I talk about integrity, he could have sat back and said: Premier,I want to continue being the minister. I want to continue, even if you move me to another portfolio, but he didn’t. He took the best interest of the people of Ontario at heart. He took the best interest of our party at heart and said it’s time for me to step aside and let someone else move forward with this. We have one of the best people in our caucus Minister Calandra that has a proven record in anything he has done to make sure that he builds homes. We have great associate ministers with Rob Flack one of the brightest business minds that we have down here at Queen’s Park will be his Associate Minister.

Our environmental assessment is second to none in the world. There’s no reason in the world that the federal government should slap another environmental assessment to purposely slow down the build of the 413.We were elected to build the Bradford bypass and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Last question. Charlie Pinkerton: Who is paying for the legal fees for yourself and others in the government in the various investigations that have taken place and continue to take place and excuse me into the Greenbelt.

Premier Well, I can’t speak for anyone else. Right now. I don’t have a lawyer. So I’m just going to sit down when someone has a question. I’m going to answer it truthfully, just the same as when I sat down when the Auditor General I answered it truthfully.

I never hide from the media. I don’t run away for weeks and avoid the media. I’m out here addressing the media’s questions, tough, tough questions. But I’m always going to be transparent with the people.

Reporter: Yeah, back to the point. So do I gather correctly that you aren’t aware of whether it’s the government or the PC party or anyone else who’s paying the legal fees for everyone under investigation the government or is there an answer to that question again?

Premier: That’s up to the people if they get a lawyer. I’m not at liberty to discuss their private finances. We’re going to make sure that we cooperate with any investigation moving forward. We agreed the process wasn’t up to par but we also agree we’re gonna fix the process. We’re doing that right now as we speak – make no mistake about it. This is not going to deter me from building homes for the people that need homes. Talk to people about food prices going up and gas prices going up and how they can’t afford homes and another message to the Bank of Canada. Enough is enough. You’re trying to kill the economy. You personally are responsible for creating inflation.

I’m working my back off 24/7 to make sure we have a strong economy. We have a great healthcare system, great education system, and making sure people can put food on their tables. That’s what I can control.

And with that the Premier walked away – no one laid a glove on the guy. He was there to talk about building homes and that is what he did.

The Greenbelt is important to most people – Doug Ford thinks having a home is even more important to the people who don’t have one – and he appears to be betting that those people will carry the day.

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Premier Ford working 24/7 to find a way out of the mess one of his Minister's created

By Pepper Parr

August 29th, 2023



The drip, drip, drip is becoming a gusher of public outrage causing Premier Ford to back track and begin looking for a way out of the mess his Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing created.

Leader of the Opposition Marit Stiles in a soybean field inside the Greenbelt

Marit Stiles, Leader of the Opposition at Queen’s Park said: “Ford’s Conservatives are changing their tune simply because they got caught. Clearly, this is a government that has one set of rules for those with close connections to their party and a different set for everyone else. None of this is about housing. This government needs to recall the Legislature so we can restore all of these lands to Greenbelt protection now, and Ford needs to fire Minister Clark from Cabinet.” 

Ford expressed concern earlier today that a company called Buena Vista Development is trying to sell 765 and 775 Kingston Road East in Ajax.

Those are two of the “sites that were selected as part of the land swap to build at least 50,000 new homes and grow the size of the Greenbelt,” the premier said in a statement.

What do you make of that body language. Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Clark communicating with Premier Ford.

“At no point was the intention to sell disclosed to the government’s facilitator during active and ongoing discussions.

“This behaviour goes against everything that our government is doing to bring home ownership into reach for more people.

“In response, our government is exploring every option available to us, including immediately starting the process to put these sites back into the Greenbelt.”

In firing a salvo at the Ajax landowner, Ford is sending a signal to developers who have had their Greenbelt land rezoned.

“To the other property owners, you’re on notice: if you don’t meet our government’s conditions, including showing real progress by year end with a plan to get shovels in the ground by 2025, your land will go back into the Greenbelt,” the premier said Tuesday.

Officials from Buena Vista Development were not immediately available for comment.

CBC has reported the land at 775 Kingston Road East was purchased in June 2018 for $15.8 million and that the company’s main officer is Yuchen Lu, who resides in Fuyang, China.

Ford is doing his best to make it clear that if the land taken out of the Greenbelt was not developed – he said he wanted to see shovels in the ground by 2025 – then the land will revert to being part of the Greenbelt.

From a purely legal point that might be easier said than done – but that is some distance down the road.  Road now the Premier is working 24/7 to save his government.

Public pressure works.

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Tough week for the Premier: RCMP Investigating Handling Of Greenbelt

By Staff

August 26th, 2023



The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is investigating the Ford government’s handling of the Greenbelt after receiving a referral from the Ontario Provincial Police.

The RCMP has confirmed that it will be looking into “irregularities in the disposition of the Greenbelt surrounding Toronto.”

“We will review and assess the information received and will take appropriate action as deemed necessary,” the RCMP said in a statement. “As the investigation is in its infancy and is ongoing, we decline to offer any further comments.”

The news comes two weeks after a scathing report from Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found that the manner in which the provincial government chose to remove land from the Greenbelt was “not transparent, objective, or fully informed,” and showed “preferential treatment” to certain developers.

The 95-page report found that Ryan Amato, Housing Minister Steve Clark’s Chief of Staff, was heavily influenced by suggestions from developers as to which lands should be removed — of the 15 sites that were selected for removal, 14 were put forth by Amato.

Amato resigned on Tuesday. Ford has insisted that “no one had preferential treatment” in the land swap that will see 7,400 acres of the Greenbelt removed for housing development, and 9,400 acres of protected land added elsewhere.

Lysyk’s report made 15 recommendations, 14 of which the province has said it will move forward with. The one it will not implement is the recommendation to re-evaluate its decision to change the Greenbelt boundaries and open the land up to housing development.

Leader of the Opposition Marit Stiles standing in a field of soybean plants in the Greenbelt Photo courtesy NDP

Marit Stiles, Leader of the New Democrast Opposition has to be given credit for writing the provincial Auditor General asking that there be a “value for money” review of the decisions the province made on Greenbelt properties.

When the report was made public Stiles did more digging and found that there were other people involved in providing information to the developers.

Premier Doug Ford with Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: Keeping a brave face.

The Premier said “no one had preferential treatment” and the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs said he wasn’t aware of what his Chief of Staff was doing.

Someone is either really incompetent or has a very very long nose.

The public is hoping the Mounties prove to be very competent – which might be a stretch for some people.

Big question going into next week is – how much longer will Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Clarke be in Cabinet?

Related news stories:

Premier gives his side of the story.

Tip sheet

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How is $1.2 billion over three years going to result in more homes being built - city doesn't build - developers build and they haven't been doing much of that lately

By Pepper Parr

August 22, 2023



Would someone explain to the Premier of the province that municipalities do not build houses.

They approve developments and issue building permits when all the required conditions are met.

Some developers don’t like that process and take their case to the Ontario Land Tribunal holds things up for a couple of years and often, most of the time give the developer at least a part of what they want.

Of the five categories only those waiting for site plan approval have an outcome determined by the city.

Ford, under a lot of pressure is as a result of the Greenbelt land swaps announced a $1.2-billion fund to encourage municipalities to build more housing.

Hopefully he will give them rubber stamps so they can put approval on development applications.

The announcement was made to delegates at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in London on Monday.

The surprise move, was a new three-year, $1.2-billion “building faster fund” that would reward cities and towns that try to meet the housing construction targets the province has imposed upon them.

This is a really dismal bit of information.

“This new fund is an incentive program that supports municipalities to build more homes,” the premier said, citing Pickering, Vaughan and Brantford as examples that would receive increased cash for “infrastructure and community-building projects” because they are exceeding their mandates.

“Municipalities that reach 80 per cent of their target each year will become eligible for funding based on their share of the overall goal of 1.5 million homes,” he said, warning those failing to meet the 80 per cent threshold won’t qualify.

The Progressive Conservatives want to build those homes 2031, with Ford conceding it is an “ambitious” aim because this year there will be about 110,000 housing starts; well below the average of more than 150,000 that need to be constructed each year.

“It’d be the first time in over three decades that we surpassed the 100,000 threshold. From there, we’ll ramp up over time until we’re on track to build at least 1.5 million homes”, said Ford

Do you see anything positive about these numbers?

Municipal leaders welcomed the new funding, which comes as they are coping with reduced revenues from development charges that the province removed to spur construction of more affordable housing.

We have yet to hear a single municipal leader explain how the money is going to move the development applications any faster.

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Auditor General raises major issues and puts out 15 recommendations - Premier accept 14 and promises to 'change the process'

By Pepper Parr

August 9th, 2023



With less than a month to go in her term of office Bonnie Lysyk, Auditor General for the province dropped a scathing 95 page report on what she saw is serious concerns about the exercises used, the way in which standard information gathering and decision protocols were sidelined and abandoned, and how changes to the Greenbelt were unnecessarily rushed thorough,”

She said the Ontario government’s process for choosing protected Greenbelt land to open up for housing development was heavily influenced by a small group of well-connected developers who now stand to make billions of dollars, the province’s auditor general says.

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk wasn’t buying whatever was being said.

Lysyk offered a damning assessment of how the province selected sites last year for removal from the Greenbelt — a vast 810,000-hectare area of farmland, forest and wetland stretching from Niagara Falls to Peterborough that was meant to be off limits to development.

Lysyk found the selection process was largely controlled by Housing Minister Steve Clark’s chief of staff — not non-partisan public servants — and was also influenced by specific suggestions from developers with access to the chief of staff.

The process didn’t consider agricultural, environmental and financial impacts of the decision, and involved little input from non-political planning experts or other stakeholders, including the general public and Indigenous communities, according to the report.


“Our review … raises serious concerns about the exercises used, the way in which standard information gathering and decision protocols were sidelined and abandoned, and how changes to the Greenbelt were unnecessarily rushed thorough,” Lysyk said at a news conference at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.

“The process was biased in favour of certain developers and landowners who had timely access to the housing minister’s chief of staff.”

Lysyk didn’t name Clark’s chief of staff in the report, however, she later confirmed to reporters it is his current chief of staff. Ryan Amato is currently working in that role.

According to Lysyk, the chief of staff directed a small team of housing ministry bureaucrats in October 2022 who decided which sites would be removed. The work of the so-called “Greenbelt Project Team” was limited to three weeks and they were sworn to confidentiality, according to the report.

According to Lysyk’s report, Clark’s chief of staff identified 21 of the 22 sites the team considered. Ultimately, they settled on 15.

At a news conference later Wednesday, Ford acknowledged shortcomings with the process, but said the government would continue to do everything it can to address the province’s housing crisis.

“While we’ll never waver in our commitment to build more homes, we know there are areas for improvement as we move forward,” Ford said. “We were moving fast. We could have had a better process.”

Ford said his government would accept and implement 14 of the 15 total recommendations Lysyk made in her report. The single recommendation it will not accept is to revisit the land swaps and possibly reverse the decisions, he said.

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Stiles: AG report paints picture of corruption in the Conservative government

By Staff

August 9th, 2023



The Auditor General issues a scathing report saying Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives “favoured certain developers” in a controversial Greenbelt land swap that could make the landowners $8.28 billion.

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk turned in her report – she also turns in her keys to the office on September 5th when her term of office comes to an end. Premier Doug Ford on the right.

In a searing 93-page report to the legislature Wednesday, Bonnie Lysyk found Ford’s opening up of 7,400 acres of environmentally protected land last fall “cannot be described as a standard or defensible process.”

Lysyk said the Tories did not need the 15 parcels of land to achieve their promised target of building 1.5 million homes over the next decade to alleviate Ontario’s housing crisis.

Premier announces he will hold a Press Conference at 1:00 om.

Marit Stiles, Leader of the Opposition

Before he can get a word in Marit Stiles, Leader of the Opposition hammers the Premier saying:

“Let’s call this what it is: corruption. Ontarians deserve better than a government that enriches a select number of party donors at the expense of hard-working Ontarians,” said Stiles, after noting that the Ford government’s Greenbelt transferred $8.3 billion over to donors and developers.

“This is not about Mr. Ford, this is not about politics, this is about reinstating Ontarians’ trust in their government. Trust that this government has seriously eroded with their insider dealings and culture of corruption that goes all the way up to the Premier.”

Stiles and the Ontario NDP are calling to immediately remove Minister Steve Clark from Cabinet. Following the resignation, the Ontario NDP are calling to:

• Immediately recall the Legislature, to reverse course, and return these lands to the Greenbelt and cancel these deals with developers.

• And that this Conservative government not stand in the way of the Integrity Commissioner’s investigation, including any potential criminal investigations – because we know this is just beginning and the public deserve and to know everything.

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With two integrity complaints against the Premier on the go the Commissioner has put one on abeyance until he gets the other one completed

By Pepper Parr

March 17th, 2023



Marit Stiles Leader of the Opposition

The complaints sent to the provincial Integrity Commissioner by Marit Stiles Leader of the Opposition (there are two of them) are keeping the Commissioner busy. So much so that he has decided to put one in abeyance while he works on the other.

J. David Wake , the Integrity Commissioner said he is not prepared to dismiss Stiles’ second complaint “since there is an overlap to some extent with the issue being determined in her first request. Therefore I am placing it in abeyance until I have completed the investigation on the first.”

The second complaint was related to donations that were made to the “stag and doe” event for the Premier’s daughter.

The first complaint is related to the land swaps that were made in the Greenbelt area where there was a concern that developers were made aware of government plans before they were public.

Premier with Steve Clarke, Minister of Municipal Affairs in the Legislature.

In a newspaper report Wake said he has requested documents from government and non-government sources and is reviewing the material gathered so far. His final report will be made public, he said.

As long as the work being done isn’t dragged out for months the public interest will be met.

As for the first complaint the Integrity Commissioner has already said that “the gift rule … is very specific. It applies only to the member who receives the gift. It does not apply to gifts received from third parties to an adult child of the member or her spouse. Even the definition of ‘family’ in the act is restricted to the member, the member’s spouse and minor children.”

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Evidence is beginning to pile up - at some point the public will want to know what came of the complaints

By Pepper Parr

February 11th, 2023



It didn’t tale the new leader of the new Democrats in Ontario to make a mark on the politics of the province.

Marit Stiles will take her seat at Queen’s Park on February 21st, and serve and serve as the Leader of the Opposition.

The day she was confirmed as the leader of the party she was out on the streets of Hamilton doing some door to door campaigning.

The next day she released a statement reporting new revelations about Doug Ford’s relationships with Greenbelt developers.

The Toronto Star reported that:

Developers whose lands stand to benefit from recent provincial government decisions attended the premier’s daughter’s wedding — with some sitting at Premier Doug Ford’s table.

Sitting with Ford at Table 10, according to a picture of the reception’s seating plan, was Mario Cortellucci, whose family’s companies’ have benefitted from at least four minister’s zoning orders that fast-track development since Ford’s Progressive Conservatives came into power.

Also invited to the September wedding, according to the seating chart, was Shakir Rehmatullah — one of the developers who stands to benefit from the Ford government’s Greenbelt land swap. In November, a 102-acre parcel of Markham land he owns through his company Flato Upper Markham Village Inc. was removed from the Greenbelt to be developed.

On February 21st, the Legislature will reconvene and Stiles will take her seat and serve the public as Leader of the Opposition.  The first couple of hours will give an indication as to what kind of leader she is going to be.  Doug Ford’s political life might begin to change.  Going to be worth watching.

Marit Stiles, Leader of the Ontario NDP, put out the following response:

“There’s mounting evidence that Ford’s cozy relationship with developers has crossed the line.

“These developers include the very people who directly benefited from the Ford government’s decision to carve up the Greenbelt and other special favours – what exactly were they talking about at that table?

“I will be immediately pursuing all options to get to the bottom of what exactly happened here. That includes submitting a further complaint with the Integrity Commissioner and ensuring all the facts that have now come to light are being considered.

“Ontarians deserve not just answers about Ford’s conduct, but a government with integrity that always puts their interests first. I am committed to making sure that they get both.”

The tally of complaints is beginning to pile up:

A complaint to Bonnie Lysyk, the Auditor General of Ontario

Two complaints to the Integrity Commissioner

And questions being asked by the OPP Rackets squad.

Related news story:

Several investigations are taking place.

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A deal has been done for the purchase of the Bateman High Site - now the questions

By Pepper Parr

November 2nd, 2022



So – there is a deal.

For reason that are not clear at this point the information was posted on the Get Involved portion of the city web site – where you could stumble upon it.

We will come back to that.

The city has signed a deal with the Halton District School Board to purchase the Bateman High School site.

The Bateman site is now owned by the city. What will it be named?

The transaction with the HDSB would see the City transfer ownership of approximately five acres of City owned land to the HDSB as a component of a land exchange for the Robert Bateman site. The City owned land in question is located near Central High School and includes the high school football field and running track.

The City has completed a purchase agreement and land exchange transaction with the Halton District School Board (HDSB) involving the Robert Bateman High School property. In the agreement, the City purchased the Bateman property for $29.6 million, while the HDSB purchased a City owned property near Burlington Central High School, which includes the high school football field and running track, for $21.7 million. The difference in price of $7.9 million will be debt financed, with annual debt payments recovered from the City’s capital reserve funds.

Both leases at Bateman are expected to be long term leases not to exceed 25 years.

This acquisition would push forward key objectives laid out in the City of Burlington’s 25-year strategic plan. Key pillars of this Plan include making Burlington a City that grows through attracting talent, good jobs and economic opportunity to the community.

Within the Bateman space, the HDSB will retain a long-term interest at the school to accommodate the Gary Allan Learning Centre. And as previously announced, Brock University will offer their Teachers Education and Applied Disabilities Studies Programs and will be developing professional and continuing studies specifically to the needs of Burlington.

In addition to the partnership with the HDSB and Brock University, the City has partnered with other institutions, ensuring that there is an adaptive reuse strategy for the Bateman site and to create a sustainable community hub which will include community rooms, a triple gym and the existing City pool.

The Burlington Public Library will relocate its Appleby Line branch to this location to develop a place for learning and education.

TechPlace will be located to the site.

How far beyond the concept has the thinking gone?

The city is now looking for residents’ feedback on a proposed land transaction with the Halton District School Board (HDSB) and leasing arrangements with the HDSB and Brock University for the City’s planned acquisition of the Robert Bateman High School building and property.

Public engagement will take place in early 2023 to seek community feedback on possible uses for the remaining space.

Feedback will also be sought on securing leases with the HDSB and Brock University for portions of the Bateman Site. The HDSB intends on leasing space back at Bateman for educational purposes. Brock University also seeks to lease space at Bateman for their long-term educational needs.

The Halton District School Board said in a media release that:  “Securing the lands near Central High School in HDSB ownership has been consistent with the HDSB’s long term intention to continue operating Central as a school. This land exchange component will advance the City’s efforts to secure the Robert Bateman site in continued public ownership, ensuring that the Robert Bateman site is available for continued educational and community-oriented us

Back to the way the information was released to the public.  Normally the city issues a media release and within hours the Mayor has a Statement lauding the decision that was made.

Recall that the decision to purchase the site was to be made public on September 30th.  Why the delay to today?  Because it might become an election issue?

There are some questions:

How much of the gymnasiums and the swimming pool time will be made available to the Brock University students?

Are the sports/recreational facilities going to be operated by the Parks, Recreation and Culture department?

Where did the $50 million price tag that Councillor Stolte revealed come from?  The media release states that the difference after the land swaps is $7.9 million.   Did Stolte just make up the $50 million number.  Highly unlikely.

Which of the city’s capital reserve funds is going to be raided to get the $7.9 million.  All we know is that taxpayers will replace the money.

And why was the news announced on the Get Involved portion of the city web site.

Now that the properties have changed hands – when do the renovations start – will the work be done in time to get the  Brock University students in classrooms on the planned schedule.  And by the way – what is that schedule?

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A Gazette reader has a question for you on the Bateman High School site that the city is in the process of purchasing

By Jeremy Skinner

June 5th, 2022



Much has been mentioned in the Gazette about the Bateman opportunity that is before us. I ask that each person who has contributed a comment thus far and are interested in the issue to respond by way of a comment to this article with your answers to the following two questions.

Question 1:
Do you believe that the City should acquire the Bateman property via a land swap which would enable the HDSB to acquire Wellington Park as part of their Burlington Central site?

If not, do you acknowledge the fact that the HDSB will likely be forced to sell the Bateman property to private as opposed to public interests? Note: Public access to Centennial Pool may be lost because it is owned by HDSB and operated by the City.

A lot of land and a lot of public interest.

Question 2:
(Answer only if yes to question 1. ) What do you believe that the Bateman property along with or without existing 220,000 sq. ft. 2 storey building should be used for?

Consider the fact that the City has received multiple offers from potential tenants seeking long term leases to reside in Bateman. These include:

– Brock University who wishes to relocate their Faculty of Education from Hamilton;
– HDSB who wishes to relocate their Burlington Gary Allan Learning Centre from 3250 New St.;
– Burlington Public Library Appleby Branch who wishes to relocate from Appleby Square Plaza (which will soon undergo redevelopment).
– TechPlace who wishes to establish presence in the East Burlington business community; and
– a City Community Centre complete with gym and pool facilities.

The long term leases from these tenants will cover most, if not all, of the one-time costs required to enable necessary maintenance upgrades required to host these tenants. Think of the financing to that of seeking a mortgage to repair an existing owned house which has a long term revenue stream from multiple tenants.

So is the Bateman situation a mountain or a molehill? Share your answers to the two questions above by adding a comment to this article.

When Jeremy Skinner sent this in we weren’t sure if it was a good idea – then thought that it might be a good idea to let the readers ask the questions and see how other readers respond.

Take it as one of our engagement initiatives.  We will work with what comes in and send it along to Council members.

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Lot of yappity yap over just where things are with the Bateman high school property purchase.

By Pepper Parr

May 20th, 2022



There is just something not quite right about the sale and purchase of the Bateman High School property.

It is monumentally expensive.

It brought about the sanctioning of a council member based on a complaint by two other Council members.

Councillor Stolte was docked five days’ pay for talking publicly about something that was discussed in a CLOSED session of Council – a no no in the municipal world.

Councillors Nisan and Galbraith filed a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner.  The issue was related to comments about the sale of the Bateman high school property n property.

Then there is an announcement that there will be a land swap – the city would sell the sports field to the west of Central High school to the Halton District School Board – the proceeds of that sale would go towards paying for the Bateman property owned by the public Board of Education.

A Gazette reader sent us a couple of tweets that were sent yesterday.

Here we have Lynne Crosby talking to someone with concerns and questions.. Civil enough

But then the following appears.

Were these meant to be assuring words?

Is Councillor Sharman offside on this?  He isn’t just a citizen with an opinion – he is a councillor with all kinds of inside information that a lot of people would like to hear him expand on.

Our faithful reader said: “My take is that the city has too much invested in this already to walk away. Look how they spent dollar after dollar for the pier to nowhere with no accessibility to the upper area for those who cannot walk up the stairs.

“Residents will never know the true cost of the Bateman project.

“Someone suggested to me that one of the reasons why so few people are entering the Municipal race is because they don’t want to have to work with our current Mayor, and presently no one is really challenging her.”

The social media types and their networks are going crazy over the Bateman high school and Central High school sports field matter.  Amidst all this there is chatter over it all being a done deal

Don’t think it is a done deal and there might be a chance that it will fall apart.



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