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Caledon mayor defends controversial plan to unlock land for housing


Caledon’s mayor is defending a controversial plan to unlock more land for housing in the fast-growing town west of Toronto.

In late March, Annette Groves used her strong mayor powers to propose zoning 12 parcels of land, totalling 5,000 acres that could eventually host 35,000 homes.

That eclipses Caledon’s provincial housing pledge to build 13,000 homes by 2031.

But Groves insists a “proactive approach” is needed with Caledon’s population expected to triple from about 77,000 people to 300,000 by 2051.

“This is nothing about being power hungry, certainly it doesn’t benefit me,” Groves tells CTV News Toronto. “But I need to make sure the future of Caledon is protected.”

Groves says that means ensuring green space is safeguarded and infrastructure is in place to support new homes, making sure developers meet certain requirements before being allowed to build.

While construction may not start at some sites for a decade, Groves explains making zoning changes now will expedite the process by about 18 months. She cautions that Caledon has been burned by being more reactive.

“The houses are built. You have no schools, kids are in portables. You have no recreation facilities. And what do we do? We take on debt to build these facilities.”

Groves’ proposal has sparked anger in some parts of the community, along with raised eyebrows at Queen’s Park and Peel Region.

In April, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra cautioned that some of the sites touched a potential route for Highway 413. The Region of Peel has reportedly called the plans “premature”.

The mayor and other municipal staff have also heard loud objections at a series of sometimes heated community information sessions this spring.

Groves explains this is part of the regular feedback cycle on new proposals which town staff will review before presenting a new report to council. There is no date set for the new report, though the mayor has committed not to hold a vote on the matter through the summer months.

Groves hopes to get enough members of the eight-member council onside with changes that using strong mayor powers isn’t necessary.

But the possibility mobilized Debbe Crandall to found the group Democracy Caledon.

“The spectre of it only needing a third of the councillors is something that creates tension amongst councillors and the public,” Crandall tells CTV News.

Crandall says saving a year or two isn’t a good justification of upending the planning process and bundling projects together in a way that their impacts on the environment, community, and infrastructure can’t be fully understood.

“To be asked to say in 2024, we’re going to zone all of this into the future just makes no sense without any information whatsoever.” Top Stories

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