After 39 days of intense opposition from taxpayers and organizations, Bill 23 was passed by the Ontario Legislature on November 28, 2022. In fact, Bill 23 became Ontario law as Watersheds Canada hosted its largest ever audience for the “Science Behind the Ribbon of Life: Why Vegetated Shoreline Buffers Matter” webinar, sharing our expertise in waterfront naturalization and sustainable development to over 400 registrants.
Despite the unprecedented demonstration of unity and ambition for environmental stewardship in Ontario, the More Homes Built Faster Act became law “Faster” than anyone could have expected. The Ford government announced Bill 23 on October 25.
Grassroots determination to save our shorelands, wetlands, farmlands, and precious green spaces deserves to be recognized, and Watersheds Canada is proud to have joined every organization and taxpayer who made it their highest priority to get informed and get engaged in campaigns to stop Bill 23. Our determination will prevail despite the narrow window of consultation time and the decision on Monday that made Bill 23 law.
Watersheds Canada network delivers 4,600 letters to MPP’s.
Through the passionate support of Watersheds Canada’s network, our email campaign against Bill 23 had resulted in over 4,600 letters being sent to MPPs across the province. The action letter is still an opportunity to be heard and Watersheds Canada encourages everyone to help share it.
Despite our concerns over the removal of site plan control, third party appeal rights and other deregulations for the environment, the Ford government made the decision to risk freshwater stewardship and all of the other environmental, economic, social and heritage protection concerns raised in the past five weeks. When news first broke out about the introduction of this Bill, Watersheds Canada mobilized taxpayers with a letter campaign, a media release, two submissions to the Ontario Legislature opposing the proposed changes, and regular social media attention to keep our network informed.
Watersheds Canada will not give up! For the past two years, we have been developing the Planning for our Shorelands program to offer policy resources to waterfront residents, municipal decision-makers, lake associations, and other stakeholders that promote sustainable development practices reinforced by science to ensure resilient and adaptive communities. The Natural Edge program is also in pursuit of expansion to keep up with the growing interests from property owners and municipalities that, despite what will result from Bill 23, will never stop pushing for shoreland protection and restoration.
Watersheds Canada and Planning for our Shorelands is pleased to offer resources and engagement initiatives to help overcome the impacts of Bill 23. Municipal leaders are encouraged to reach out to discuss how Watersheds Canada can share its 20-years of sustainable development and shoreland naturalization expertise. Many existing resources will help municipal leaders and shoreline property owners make informed decisions, such as:
- Science of Buffers document which discusses why vegetated shoreland buffers are important
- A Planting Plan template that teaches property owners how to restore their vegetated buffer
- Environmental Net Gain document that discusses how a property owner or decision-maker can plan development in a sustainable manner while increasing vegetation on their property.
If you are interested in booking a presentation for your community group or municipal council about the impacts of Bill 23, the importance of vegetated buffers, or other topics, please contact Darlene Coyle, Environmental Policy and Planning Program Lead (shorelandproject (at) watersheds.ca).