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MSIFN state their shock after Regional Greenbelt motion fails

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

SCUGOG: The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) have expressed their 'shock' at a Region of Durham's decision not to study the potential implications of a provincial decision to remove some Greenbelt lands from the Greenbelt Plan.

At a Region of Durham council meeting, on Wednesday, March 1st, members saw a motion which called for Regional staff to "address the implications of [a] release and development of Greenbelt lands in a report" and to have "consideration of the new Regional Official Plan by Council not take place until the above-mentioned report has been completed."

The motion noted, a decision by the provincial government in November, to make "amendments to the Greenbelt Plan to remove 7,400 acres from the Greenbelt, including 4,500 acres in Durham Region, to be used to build housing."

The meeting saw a number of residents provide their input into the matter. The motion did not receive enough support to pass.

Pickering Mayor, Kevin Ashe stated, the motion opens the Region up to criticism and "political intervention."

"I'm against this. I think we should continue planning. We've spent millions of dollars of time, resources, [and] emotion, and I think it would be foolhardy to put a pause [on] that process."

Whitby Councillor, Chris Leahy stated, he feels, if people are upset by the provincial decision, they should raise their concerns at the provincial level.

"That's where they have the opportunity to impact [decision making]. Using us as the proxy to try to change provincial policy is not going to be successful."

The motion was defeated by a vote of 17 to 12.

The Greenbelt Foundation explained, online, the Greenbelt is acres of "protected land [which] provide clean air, freshwater, climate resilience, and a reliable local food source to help Ontario thrive."

In a press release, sent out online, on Tuesday, March 7th, the MSIFN wrote they were "profoundly troubled" by the Region's decision.

"As we have repeatedly said, there is no turning back from destroying the environment. The wetlands and biodiverse areas [which] are part of the Greenbelt have developed over millennia and serve critical purposes in balancing our ecosystems and ensuring humanity can thrive. These areas cannot simply be replaced with other undeveloped parcels of land somewhere else in the province," the press release, from Chief Kelly LaRocca and the MSIFN council stated.

The MSIFN also explained, they feel this decision is "a violation of public trust [which] will significantly damage democracy, the environment and opportunities for future generations to thrive in this province."

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