PICKERING: Open letter to Mayor Ashe and Council

[The open letter displayed below is intended as an informational news article. Posting here does not indicate support for the letter.]

Dear Mayor Ashe and Pickering Councillors,

We need to talk about Mayor Ashe’s response to the Auditor General’s investigation into the Greenbelt removals. Your December 5 resolution last year gave the impression that the Pickering Council unanimously opposed the urbanization of the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve. Mayor Ashe’s recent statement indicates that the Council would support development if certain conditions are met. Which is it?

In support of building on the Greenbelt
On November 16, 2022, without consultation with you, Mayor-elect Kevin Ashe sent a letter to Minister Steve Clark stating that the City is in favour of building on the Greenbelt/DRAP lands and reaffirming previous letters from former Mayor Ryan to Minister Clark on November 14, 2022, and February 7, 2019.

Opposed to building on the Greenbelt
However, on December 5, 2022, your first meeting as a new council, you unanimously opposed development in DRAP and the Greenbelt removals by stripping out supportive language from a staff report destined for Minister Clark’s desk. How can it be that Premier Ford and Minister Clark are relying on Mayor Ashe’s letter, and Mayor Ryan’s letters from November, when the last word on this was the unanimous position of Council on December 5?

Continued opposition to building on the Greenbelt
Community members have repeatedly asked for Ashe to retract the Mayors’ previous letters because it is the position of this new council (and this new Durham Regional Council) that development should not happen in the Greenbelt carveouts and DRAP area, and the lands must be returned to the Greenbelt.

Clear up the confusion
In light of the Auditor General‘s report that reveals unscrupulous influence over this whole process, the Ontario Integrity Commissioner’s ongoing inquiry, a potential RCMP investigation, and the resignation of Minister Clark’s Chief of Staff, it is long overdue for you to clear up the confusion about Pickering’s position on DRAP.

Confused action needs clarification
On the official record, this Council is opposed to the urbanization of DRAP, yet still continues to participate in activities and negotiations that appear to further incursions into the area. Consider whether you want to be seen as giving the Ford government political cover for this egregious plan that your residents are adamantly opposed to.

Fear Ashe will invoke “Strong Mayor” power to negate Council
This community is also deeply concerned about the likelihood of seeing Mayor Ashe use “Strong Mayor” powers to overrule the will of this Council on DRAP. It would need the collaboration of at least two councillors. Will those two councillors be prepared to bear the political fallout stemming from propping up a “strong mayor”?

Hamilton opposes Greenbelt building
Pickering Council may be interested to know that Hamilton City Council unanimously passed a motion on Friday, August 18, asking for the Province of Ontario to abandon its plan to develop the Greenbelt.

Pickering residents have been asking for, and are now expecting, a similar motion from the Council. Your September 5th Executive Committee meeting is ideal timing to bring this new motion forward.

Greenbelt development is NOT needed
We know you understand that the DRAP lands are the most significant Greenbelt carveouts in the province. You can also see that Pickering is already well ahead in achieving provincial housing targets, and these lands are not needed to advance supply and improve affordability. We also expect you’ve noticed that this chaotic affair is diverting scarce city resources from essential projects. What is the toll of this uproar on you and your ability to plan and deliver much-needed community benefits to those who have been patiently waiting? When will the full potential of Seaton be realized if the tight timelines of DRAP development sabotage the City’s (and Region’s) plans for a complete and sustainable community as promised?

The situation is confusing and chaotic
The Auditor General’s report was damning, Pickering voters are outraged, and this debacle will not be forgotten during the next municipal election. Who among you will take a clear stand against provincial decisions and demonstrate leadership on this local threat? Who will defend DRAP and initiate the new Greenbelt motion on September 5th before it’s too late?

Thank you,

Stop Sprawl Durham

Rouge Duffins Greenspace Coalition


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