Environment Letters & Opinion

The Rezoning of 12 Developer Owned Land Parcels on April 30

Submitted to Just Sayin' Caledon

This letter, to Caledon Councillor Tony Rosa, was received by JSC for publication from Betty de Groot of Bolton

Hello Councillor Rosa,

I hope you are well.  I am writing today because I want you to know that as sleepy as our town can be on the political awareness scale, we are not comatose.  We have busy lives and families that need our attention.  Many of us have long commutes on frustrating roads and in sometimes heavy traffic. Many are dealing with the stresses of inflation and making sky-high rental or mortgage payments.  Many struggle with mental health issues, and with the health concerns of our loved ones.  We rely on our distractions to maintain sanity, whether its healthy as in giving attention to our pets, or unhealthy, like couch potatoing with Netflix.  But we all deserve Public Representation that is unafraid, unfettered by tenuous and fickle allegiances and fully informed.  Ward 5 is counting on you to make the right decision when it comes to the decision on Rezoning the 12 Development applications.

It may not surprise you at all that I am actually opposed to all of the Development applications happening anywhere within the almost 11,000 acres that the Region of Peel, in 2022, moved from agricultural land to developable, because I grew up on 100 of those acres on our family farm way back when.  These 11,000 acres, as you know, are considered Prime Agricultural land, of which, in all of Canada, only 5% of our lands are so labelled. Living in the Greater Tkaronto Bioregion, blessed with being smack dab in the middle of one of the most attractive, hospitable and welcoming landscapes in all the world, we take things for granted.  Our Bioregion, just like the environs of the Roman Empire, in its penultimate chapter, is for all intents and purposes “highly attractive,” and it is that very feature that, if we are not careful, may cause our demise.  It is folly to think that we can keep the pristine and unique attributes of Caledon and likewise give in to the pressures of urban sprawl development at the same time.  The protections of the Greenbelt, the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine, all with their very precise borders, cannot fool mother nature, as the connectivity of all of these protected features to the lands and watersheds outside of them is real.  Already Mississauga has learned, too late, that sprawl was a mistake.  Brampton has been slow to figure this out, and has almost no land left to indicate an agricultural base, of which it too, in its entirety, was part of that precious 5%.  Caledon has been the fortunate outlier, precisely because it wasn’t called upon regionally, to pony up to the housing demands of the greater GTA.  But that is a thing of the past, and our short-sighted Provincial government, rather than following the advice of its own Task Force on Housing, and concentrate growth by increasing densities and offering a range of housing styles, has decided that housing should be spread far and wide, involve as many willing developers as possible, and happen with as little conservation authority oversight as possible.

So, whereas I personally would fully support the transformation of Bolton to a denser city, with multiple housing types, complete with 15 minute walkability built-in, comprehensive transit systems connecting us both internally and to our neighbouring communities, and good access to green spaces, to absorb the additional 230,000 residents Caledon is required Provincially to accommodate, I cannot support and neither should you the proposal to pave over the lands within these 12 Development applications.

Developers are speculators.  Speculation is a type of a gamble, and those who go into it, know that there are wins and there are losses.  Most have a diverse portfolio, and no single project will make or break their financial bottom line.  Most are in it for the long game.  If this motion, which is technically not a motion, as nothing about it has been tabled on the Town’s Agenda, does not pass on Tuesday April 30th, none of these Developer/Speculators will be the worse off.

On the other hand, Caledon citizens, and in fact citizens throughout the GTHA, will be.  We are in serious need of a courageous and thoughtful statement from you, and in fact, from all your fellow counsellors, to say, yes indeed, we can meet the short-sighted Provincial housing target and population increase, but we will do so based on the Town’s pledge to its Citizens to only offer a made-in-Caledon solution: not by adding Brampton or Mississauga-styled subdivisions, aka paved over farms; not with the simple and naive assumption of progress found in the 1950’s mentality of adding roads, and white-picket fences; not via the current practice of dotting country roads with monster homes.  But Caledon can meet this target by using the wisdom found in the Province’s rejected housing task force (and/or borrow from the Green party’s housing crisis suggestions).  We must create density where larger groups of people have already chosen to live.  We must use mature and wizened-to-climate-change understandings, and create well-designed, energy resilient, walkable, well-connected, diverse and affordable communities.  We cannot hand over to future citizens, our children and theirs, as well as to the multitudes that will arrive escaping from climates rendered inhospitable by climate change, a legacy of poorly thought-out plans and an inflexible, inadequate and unaffordable housing supply.

Saying that giving ‘a nod to these 12 Development Applications in one go’ is for the sake of getting infrastructure started is equivalent to saying that this farmland is not worth keeping.  It is assuming that our generation alone has a right to local food options, but not future generations.  It is naively consenting to putting kilometres of additional fossil gas pipelines in the ground, to serve up to 35,000 homes because it is the currently prevalent technology, rather than waiting a couple of years for when our Green Development Standards will improve to incentivise District Heating in all new high-density developments.   It is letting a Provincial incentive take over our good sense to pace ourselves in fulfilling a requirement, when we know a measured and truly democratic process will yield much more satisfying results for all of us.  It is rushing into an irreversible decision before we fulfill our UNDRIP obligation to fully seek informed consent as per Caledon’s self-proclaimed agreement with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

I’ve made this a public letter, and have shared it with a few others on Council, because of the earnestness with which I feel about this plan.  Mayor Groves may understand her sense of duty to the Province, however, the entire council must recall their sense of duty to Caledon’s citizens, both current and future.  Say NO to this advanced zoning decision.

Yours sincerely,

Betty de Groot

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Just Sayin' Caledon

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