The press secretary for Municipal Affairs Minister Jim Clark said he will not approve a request by a religious order to develop land within the Greenbelt in King City north of Toronto.
The minister has been clear that we are committed to protecting the Greenbelt for future generations, and will not consider any proposals to develop on the Greenbelt," Stephanie Bellotto, press secretary for Clark, said in the statement.
The Augustinian Fathers (Ontario), Inc., a registered charity, sent a letter on Nov. 25 to King City council seeking its support for a request it is making to provincial cabinet to allow development on a site east of Highway 400 in King City.
Environmental groups say the charity is trying to bypass public consultation and environmental studies. They say the land includes provincially significant wetlands and the charity is seeking approval for its redevelopment in an anti-democratic way.
"This is bypassing all the regular process for a development of this scale and such a sensitive area," Tim Gray, executive director at Environmental Defence, said.
"The owners here are looking to fast track development approval completely outside of any kind of normal planning process."
A minister's zoning order, or MZO, is a provincial tool that allows the provincial government to authorize development immediately, overriding local rules for land use planning. The Doug Ford government has issued 33 of these orders since April alone.