Greenbelt, Ford’s position is even more complicated

TORONTO – Ontario Premier Doug Ford met face-to-face with Hamilton developer Sergio Manchia in 2021 to discuss removing his land from the Greenbelt in 2021, documents cited by the CBC reveal, which contradict what Ford himself had previously stated, that he has “no recollection” of meeting Manchia, nor was he aware of the proposed changes before 2022, when the removal of some land from the Greenbelt to make it buildable began. 

The meeting would, instead, take place more than a year before the Ford government publicly announced its plan to allow select developers to build on the Greenbelt, according to an email published Monday among thousands of pages of documents obtained by ” Environmental Defense”. The purpose of the meeting would have been, in fact, to discuss the opening to development of the Manchia land, in the Greenbelt area, between Barton Street and Fifty Road, according to an email addressed to Ford’s executive assistant by Scott Beedie, a planner at Manchia’s company UrbanSolutions. “The parties agreed to pursue the application as it was consistent with the Province’s objectives of helping Municipalities provide much-needed housing” Beedie wrote. Manchia then met Ford at several other events and also purchased four tickets to his daughter’s bachelor party, which he delivered to one of his planners, Matt Johnston.

In any case, it was no secret that Manchia had been calling for his property to be removed from the Green Belt for years. The September 2021 meeting “was just the latest in a multi-year effort, calling on both the previous government and Ford’s government to correct what we and Hamilton council believed was a mistake” Johnston himself said. Indeed: Hamilton’s staff supported the change, so much so that Manchia – explains Beedie – had the support of Hamilton’s chief planner and the mayor to allow the construction of two hundred houses on the four acres of land.

A year after those meetings, the Ford government removed Manchia’s land from the Greenbelt, along with fourteen other sites in the Greater Hamilton and Toronto area. Then, after the first investigations into the Greenbelt and above all that of the RCMP, still ongoing, into alleged “favors” to developers by the provincial government, the Province itself did an about-face by adding all the sites to the “green belt” again and making them again not buildable. But it was too late: and almost every day new and increasingly embarrassing documents emerge for Prime Minister Ford and his government.

In the pic above, the premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, in a photo taken from his Twitter page X – @fordnation