Written by John Bacher, image by Danny Molneck
The name Bill 66 seems like a science fiction monster akin to Godzilla, which emerged out of the debris of nuclear contaminated post-war Japan. A similar scary beast has come forth today out of the fiendish populism of Ontario Premier, Doug Ford.
While Godzilla picked people off the streets and hurled them around, the scary Bill 66 is being prepared to throw its might against the landscapes protected by a variety of provincial planning measures and laws. These include the Greenbelt, the Lake Simcoe Protection Act and the Source Water Protection Act.
From the dirty muck of a Populist brew like cheap beer, OFB-ZBL has emerged out of Bill 66 to despoil Ontario’s countryside. The term is an acronym for Open For Business Planning By-law, which through a combination of municipal approval and ministerial consent, repeal zoning provisions designed to protect water.
Godizlla was a black and slimy beast, akin to the dangerous development that threatens to foul water sources protected by current provincial legislation. Bill 66 threatens to likewise put grease and slime over previously protected watersheds, possibly creating havoc from Georgian Bay to Niagara Falls.
When walking around Lake Ontario on a sacred Water Walk with an Ojibway community and Mohawk elder of the Turtle Clan, Danny Beaton, I saw an example of what Bill 66 threatens to unleash. We were stunned to see near the sacred shores of Lake Simcoe, the type of development that was the norm before it was curbed by the water protecting legislation Bill 66 threatens to crush.
We Water Walkers were stunned to encounter a black stream, without the usual life forms of insects such as water gliders. Then we walked a bit ahead and discovered why the stream was black. Its blackness came because it was downstream from a sewage release meadow built to accommodate a development built in the 1960s before provincial land use planning. In the middle of the meadow were steel spray pipes, of the sort usually used to spray water. Instead here it sprayed raw sewage from a development on the shores of Lake Simcoe.
The sewage release sprays are a good indication of what the monster, the Bill 66, may soon unleash if it is actually approved by the Ontario legislature. Let us hope that reason prevails and this devouring monster being developed in the strange laboratories of Premier Doug Ford will not be set loose.