First Nations community considering legal action over proposed Greenbelt changes

The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation are considering legal action to stop the Ford government's proposed changes to Greenbelt land. Tina Yazdani with how the government could be breaching its duty to consult with Indigenous communities.

By Tina Yazdani and Meredith Bond

The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation tell CityNews they are considering legal action to stop the Ford government’s proposed changes to Greenbelt land.

In a one-on-one interview, Chief Stacey Laforme said the province has yet to meet with them for a basic discussion on the changes, breaching its duty to consult with Indigenous communities on issues that impact their rights and their lands.

“We didn’t get notified until it was on the legislation floor,” said Chief Laforme of Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act. “We need to be consulted on these things; we can’t just go forward on what you think is best.”

“We feel like it’s a sort of like a two-pronged attack on our obligations to the environment and as treaty holders and stewards.”

He received one email the day the legislation was introduced, including links to more information on the changes.

“That’s not consultation in anybody’s mind. And that was it,” he added.

Chief Laforme says he was disheartened when the province then forged ahead with plans to carve out 7,400 acres of Greenbelt land without consultation with his community when much of the land involved is Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation territory.

RELATED: Ford government could have sold rights to develop Greenbelt for millions, experts say

Of the areas impacted by the legislation, the decision to open up land for development within the Oak Ridges Moraine is of utmost concern to Chief Laforme.

“There are Alders, and Anishinaabe people who talk about burial sites and people buries on those lands, and without consultation and without looking into that, that could be disrupted or destroyed.”

The government has said the land is required to build more homes to accommodate Ontario’s growing population. It plans on adding 9,400 acres to the Greenbelt elsewhere, for a net expansion of 2,000 acres.

“You can’t just think the environment and the lands can be traded off for another section when you need that section. It doesn’t work that way,” said Chief Laforme.

“People and conservation authorities put time and energies into these areas thinking they’re protected, and this is a resource we can manage into the future, and that’s a big challenge for them now and for us.”


He adds the land likely wouldn’t just be disturbed for housing.

“You can be assured that because of the lands being built there, there’ll be additional requests to take up more lands beside those roads and everything else,” Chief Laforme noted.

“There’s hydro and everything else that goes along with service provisions. And then those areas always get built up over time. So these lands will not only be impacted today but also in the future.”

Chief Laforme said they are open to dialogue with the Ford government, but matters must change.

“I’m still willing to sit down, still willing to talk about this, but they need to repeal that legislation, and they need to sit down with First Nations and have a discussion, especially with the treaty holders,” shared Chief Laforme.

A statement from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said they are committed to honouring their obligations to Indigenous communities and will continue to seek their input.

“It is our expectation that proponents, landowners and municipalities will engage with Indigenous communities directly as detailed plans are developed for these lands,” continued the statement.

Several other groups have spoken up against Ford’s Greenbelt plan, including opposition parties and environmental groups.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is currently reviewing requests from environmental groups and members of the public to determine if there are grounds for an investigation into the development of the Greenbelt lands.

Experts have also called attention to the possibility that millions of dollars that could have been raised by selling this soon-to-be developable land would go to private corporations rather than into the public purse.

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