(Bloomberg) -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he will reverse a contentious plan to allow development of previously protected lands around Toronto.
“We aren’t going to touch the greenbelt,” Ford told journalists during a news conference on Thursday.
The decision comes after months of controversy over an earlier decision to allow development on 2,700 acres of land. Ford had defended his government’s decision as essential to meeting its goal of building 1.5 million new homes by 2031.
But the process by which the 15 properties were removed or redesignated for development advanced the interests of some landowners over others, according to an August report by Ontario Integrity Commissioner David Wake. Another report by Ontario’s auditor general highlighted major flaws with the process and spurred the resignation of the housing minister’s chief of staff, Ryan Amato.
Housing Minister Steve Clark subsequently resigned and on Wednesday, so did another cabinet minister, Kaleed Rasheed.
“I made a mistake. I apologize for that mistake. We’re going to have to keep moving forward, and the proof will be in the pudding,” Ford said.
It was Ford’s second about-face on the issue. During his first term in office, Ford repeatedly said his government wouldn’t touch the greenbelt, an area that includes some of the province’s most productive farmland. He changed his mind last year, saying some development was essential to meeting the province’s housing needs.
Read More: Ontario Housing Minister Found to Have Violated Integrity Act
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