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Doug Ford calling the Greenbelt a scam is 'unbelievable,' Canada’s environment minister says

Canada’s environment minister had strong words for Doug Ford after the premier called Ontario’s Greenbelt a “scam.”

Speaking with CP24 Tuesday night, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said he found the comments “unbelievable.”

“I profoundly disagree with the characterization of Premier Ford when it comes to the Greenbelt,” he said on Tuesday.

“We need those green spaces to have clean air, clean water.”

The Progressive Conservative government announced it would be removing 7,400 acres from the Greenbelt for development in November 2022, years after promising not to touch it.

At the time, the idea was to build 50,000 homes on those lands while adding 9,400 acres elsewhere to the Greenbelt.

Ford has maintained that he did not know which sites would be opened until shortly before the announcement. However, last week, media reports suggested Ford’s office may have discussed changes to the Greenbelt months prior to announcing development on 15 sites.

A spokesperson for the premier’s office said: “the implication that staff were discussing specific changes is false.”

In response to the claims, Ford put the blame on to the previous 2005 Liberal government for protecting the land in the first place.

“We have a Liberal government that [got] a bunch of staffers, randomly got a highlighter and went up and down roads. They were going through golf courses, through buildings. It was just a big scam as far as I'm concerned,” the premier said on May 11.

The statement drew the attention of Guilbeault, who is currently spearheading a study that could if it shows a negative impact on biodiversity in the area, shut down a development that would sit beside Rouge National Urban Park.

“I would love nothing more than to be able to work with the Ontario government to protect the greenbelt and if that was their wishes, I'll be the first one to say ‘hey, let's do it together,’” Guilbeault said.

The action was not well received by Ford, who wished the government “good luck” while insisting it would not slow down their development plans.

“I have stopped private development in the past on areas that would have threatened the habitat of species at risks in Canada,” Guilbeault said Tuesday.

“And if I need to do it again, to protect lands that are that are habitat for species at risks in Canada, I will do it.” Top Stories

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