An Ontario court has found that the provincial government has broken the law by failing to comply with the Environment Bill of Rights.
Several environmental groups brought applications for judicial review over the province’s alleged failure to consult with the public before implementing the COVID-19 Economic Reform Act.
Late last year, the province opened consultations to the public months after the passage of Bill 197 last summer.
The Superior Court of Justice says the minister for municipal affairs acted “unfair and unlawful” in consultation with the public in the months after the changes were implemented.
In a statement, a spokesman for City Affairs Minister Steve Clarke said the government was forced to act “quickly in the face of a rapidly changing pandemic”.
Zoe Knowles said, “The ministry consulted with the public after Bill 197 came into force, and continues to do so, taking into account public input whenever an enhanced ministerial zoning order is used. With a clear commitment of
“As Ontario continues to respond to COVID-19, we will not allow red tape to endanger the health and safety of Ontario.”
The three-judge panel partially allowed judicial review, but rejected several other challenges raised by environmental groups regarding other ministries.
The court said the government had failed to post the proposed amendments on the controversial use of ministerial zoning orders on the Environment Registry prior to implementation.
The province has used so-called MZOs to fast-track land development, especially in the environmentally sensitive greenbelt.
Environmental groups that were part of the case hailed the September 3 verdict as an environmental victory.
Gord Miller, president of Earthroots, one of the organizations involved in the Court, said, “For 15 years as Ontario’s Environment Commissioner, I am pleased to see that the Court has been instrumental in helping people make government decisions affecting the environment. rights are upheld.” War
“The court’s declaration is clear – the government of Ontario broke the law by infringing on those rights.”
The Canadian Environmental Law Association said the decision reaffirms the rights of the public.
“The Environmental Rights Bill provides the people of Ontario with very important tools to learn about and participate in decisions that affect their environment,” said CELA Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan.
Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said it was a victory for the people.
“Ontarians have a right to participate in government decision-making that affects the environment,” Schreiner said.
“By violating the environmental rights of Ontarians, Doug Ford has not only broken the law, but has also made it clear that he will put his pro-sprawl, pro-developer agenda at the top.”