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Press Releases 2004

December 8, 2004

Liberals Back Down:Greenbelt Deadline Extended

Klees: Province needs to take the time, get the Greenbelt right

QUEEN'S PARK -       Oak Ridges MPP, Frank Klees and the PC Caucus are declarin g at least a partial victory, as the McGuinty-Liberals are backing down from their declared intent to ram the Greenbelt Legislation through the House by December 15, 2004.   Continued pressure from farmers, municipal leaders, Conservation Authorities, business groups, the PC Caucus and taxpayers has forced the Liberals to send the Greenbelt plan to a Legislative Committee for public input in the new year.  

"Congratulations to farmers, municipal leaders and other interested people for keeping the government honest.   Dalton McGuinty's goal to rush this Bill through the Legislature before December 15th was reckless and irresponsible.   We need more time to listen to public input in order to get the Greenbelt right," said Klees.

The McGuinty-Liberals had publicly committed to passing the Greenbelt legislation before December 15, 2004. Under the McGuinty Liberal Government's initial plan, all input from the Greenbelt public consultations needed to be submitted by Sunday, December 12, 2004. This would have left a maximum of only three days for MPPs to review the hundreds of public submissions before voting on the Bill. This was an unfair and unwise time frame for interested parties and government officials to fairly consider the input.

Klees and his colleagues in the Legislature and PC Leader John Tory had raised the need for public hearings on several occasions.    The   P.C. Caucus demanded on numerous occasions that the Government send the Bill to committee in the New Year.   They have documented approximately 50 individual problems with the map and Greenbelt Legislation to date and expect to hear more at the committee hearings.  

"We support the protection of green space, but need to do it correctly.   As Progressive Conservatives, we have a proud record of doing so through Lands for Life, the award winning Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Act and the creation of the Niagara Escarpment Plan," said Klees . "When preserving green space, it is vital to do so based on good science and to have a plan to ensure the preservation effort will be successful.   Without a plan to support the viability of farmers and municipalities within the Greenbelt area, and with questionable if any science, the Greenbelt will not be successful.   Committee hearings will give us the time to get it right based on public input."

Klees thanked groups and municipal leaders who had publicly called for extension of the deadlines and for public hearings including: The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Region of York, the Region of Durham , the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and the City of Vaughan.

The committee is expected to hold public consultations starting in January 2005.

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For additional information contact:

Frank Klees , MPP

416-325-7316