A Grimsby councillor is grateful that the province will reimburse the town for costs incurred during the Greenbelt debacle.
On Oct. 23, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Paul Calandra announced that the province would work with municipalities to assist with planning and staff costs associated with the ever-changing plans.
While initially indicating he wouldn’t compensate them, it seems that Calandra has changed his mind after announcing he is also reversing the expansion of urban boundaries for several communities.
“Since becoming Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, I have made it a priority to review past decisions, including minister’s zoning orders and official plans, to ensure that they support our goal of building at least 1.5 million homes in a manner that maintains and reinforces public trust,” he said. “In reviewing how decisions were made regarding official plans, it is now clear that they failed to meet this test.”
At the council meeting on Oct. 16, Grimsby unanimously passed a motion put forward by Nick DiFlavio to ask the province to pay them back the $82,000 the town spent on outside legal and consulting contracts, and staff time.
“It was money that we spent as a result of the Greenbelt changes that were thrust upon us,” he said. “When the province made the first announcements taking land out of the Greenbelt, we had to hire lawyers and we had to hire consultants to deal with all the legalities and finances involved in those changes … the number of staff hours that went into it is estimated at around 400 and change. It was an all-hands-on-deck situation.”
DiFlavio called the announcement that the town will be paid back “a miracle.”
“I’ve been on council for a long time, and I’m not accustomed to actually having somebody listen to our requests,” he joked. “It’s nice that they actually are considering it and that they’re aware that there was money being spent by municipalities as a result of the decision they made in the first place.”
At that Oct. 16 council meeting, the town’s new director of planning, Harold Madi, said he was “flabbergasted” by the ease in which the province has flip-flopped on the Greenbelt.
He said the province seemed like they were assuming the only implications would be its reputation, while “completely ignoring the extraordinary sweat, tears, effort and cost that has gone into what has been a very long period of time.”
“I think this is just one drop in the bucket of a number of other possible implications of this really irresponsible decision made by the province,” he said.
By Abby Green, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Oct 26, 2023 at 10:26