TRCA Response to the Provincial Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) Regarding Durham Live

On Friday October 30, 2020, the Ontario government announced, via press release, a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) at the request of the City Pickering, with the support of the Municipality of Durham, to expedite construction of Durham Live.

The Planning Act authorizes the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) to make zoning orders for regulating the use of land and the location, use, height, size, and spacing of buildings and structures. Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) has no approval authority in the issuance of an MZO. TRCA was notified on Tuesday November 3 that the MZO had been posted on the Ontario government’s website.

After the Ministry’s announcement on Friday, TRCA Board members and staff have been inundated with requests from residents to vote no to the project. Concerns regarding the issuance of the MZO should be raised through the Province, using the contact information included in the press release.

At TRCA’s most recent Board of Directors meeting, held on October 23, TRCA’s position in opposition of development in wetlands, particularly Provincially Significant Wetlands, was unanimous (#164/20).

Additionally, the resolution permits a request made by MMAH for TRCA to enter into an agreement with the property developer to proceed with discussions regarding ecosystem compensation, in that event that the following stages are realized:

  1. MMAH issues a Minister’s Zoning Order approving Durham Live;
  2. Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) reclassifies the Provincially Significant Wetlands;
  3. The property developer submits an environmental impact study that justifies ecosystem compensation in accordance with TRCA’s Board approved and Provincially recognized guidelines, and if approved, the ecosystem compensation plan would be implemented; and
  4. TRCA’s Executive Committee approval of a permit application submitted by the property owner under the Conservation Authorities Act.

Last week, prior to the issuance of MMAH’s press release, TRCA’s Board of Directors requested that MNRF staff consider the ecological value of the site, including the potential presence of endangered and threatened species, hydrological connections and ecosystem functions during their review of any request to remove the Provincially Significant designation from the wetland. It was further requested that MNRF clarify its position on the applicability of ecosystem compensation to a Provincially Significant Wetland.

If MNRF reclassifies the wetland and this matter is brought to TRCA for approval, it will be addressed transparently on the agenda at future Executive Committee and Board of Directors meetings, which are open to the public and for which public deputations and correspondences will be received. We appreciate the passion and interest of the stakeholders within our jurisdiction and assure you that TRCA will continue to operate in a manner consistent with our mission.