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Ottawa MPP, some councillors want Ontario Auditor General to review Ottawa's urban boundary expansion

The Ontario government released a map of Ottawa with the expanded urban boundary after approving the Official Plan. (Ontario government/release) The Ontario government released a map of Ottawa with the expanded urban boundary after approving the Official Plan. (Ontario government/release)

An Ottawa Liberal MPP and some councillors want the Auditor General to review the Ontario government's decision to expand the city of Ottawa's urban boundary by an additional 654 hectares.

The former council approved an expansion of the urban boundary by 1,281 hectares by 2046.

When the Ontario government approved Ottawa's Official Plan last November, former Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and his office added another 654 hectares to Ottawa's urban boundary.

Orleans MPP Stephen Blais has written a letter to Ontario's acting Auditor General, asking he investigate the government's "unilateral decision to expand" the urban boundary by 654 hectares.

"One area of concern specifically is the urban boundary expansion pertaining to the 37-acre farm located at 1177 Watters Road, in my riding, which was zoned Agricultural Resource by the City and was protected from development," Blais writes.

"As you may know, previous Provincial Policy Statements have expressly dictated that Agricultural Resource lands should not be considered for urban expansion."

Blais cites reports from the CBC that state that when the property was designated as Agricultural Resource, it was purchased for $12.7 million.

"Just one year after purchasing the farm, Minister Clark expanded the urban boundary to include the land for development," the MPP writes.

Blais asks the Auditor General to use their mandate and authority to investigate several questions, including:

  • "What was the rationale and criteria used by the minister to select the additional lands to Ottawa's urban expansion?"
  • "What internal process was used in the ministry and the minister's office to provide advice on this decision?"
  • "How did the minister assess the impacts of his decision on the environment, economy, and governance of the city of Ottawa and the province?"
  • "What impact, if any, did political association and lobbying efforts, have on the minister's decision?"
  • "Did the buyers of 1177 Watters Road or the other lands added to the boundary receive inside knowledge to purchase the land zoned for agriculture prior to the minister changing Ottawa's urban boundary?"

Coun. Shawn Menard, seconded by Coun. Riley Brockington, has introduced a motion calling on council to ask the Auditor General and Integrity Commissioner to consider reviewing the provincial government's decision to add urban boundary expansion lands to the city of Ottawa.

The motion says the 654 hectares of expansion lands, "were evaluated by the municipality to be poor candidates for expansion due to the high cost and various scoring criteria by the municipality."

"That decision results in more costly urban sprawl in Ottawa that Ottawa ratepayers will have to pay for."

Clark resigned as Ontario's housing minister following two reports on the Greenbelt that outlined a deeply flawed process that favoured certain developers and lacked transparency.

The Integrity Commissioner recommended Clark be reprimanded in the Legislature for "failing to oversee the process by which lands in the Greenbelt were selected to development." Top Stories

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