Last week, Ecojustice let us know that we would be in court on Monday, March 15, 2021 morning to stop the destruction of the Lower Duffins Creek wetlands complex, located near Pickering, Ontario
The Ontario government had issued a regulation mandating that the local conservation authority issue a permit for development at Lower Duffins Creek. We were very worried that the developers were just days away from destroying a provincially significant coastal wetland forever.
But thanks to the quick mobilization of local groups, legal action from organizations like Ecojustice, and public outrage from people across the country, there has been a significant turn of events.
On Friday morning, Amazon — the proposed tenant for the to-be-razed wetlands — pulled out of the project. By that afternoon, the Ontario government indicated its willingness to revoke or amend the Minister’s Zoning Order or MZO (the legality of which is the subject of a larger lawsuit brought by Ecojustice) it had used to push through the destruction of the wetlands. The City of Pickering then stated that it wanted time for “reflection and consultation on the best path forward.”
In court yesterday, developers consented to a motion brought by Ecojustice to prohibit the destruction of this provincially significant wetland until the legality of the MZO is reviewed in a court of law.
Thank you. This is a stop-gap, but it’s a victory nonetheless. And your support made it all possible.
The war, however, is not over. Later this year, Ecojustice will be back in court to challenge the Ontario government’s unlawful use of an MZO for Lower Duffins Creek wetland, through a judicial review.
The MZO granted for the development of Lower Duffins Creek is just one of 44 the Ontario government has handed out to developers during the past three years. Many of the MZOs granted outright fail to comply with planning laws and threaten important areas of biodiversity, which makes them unlawful.
Ontario knows it too. It is now attempting to give itself retroactive cover for its illegal use of MZOs by hiding changes to the Planning Act that would exempt MZOs from complying with the environmental protection requirements in the Provincial Policy Statement in the Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act (Bill 257).
We will keep you up to date on the progress of this case as it unfolds.
But for today, let us all celebrate that Duffins Creek has been protected from an onslaught of bulldozers and excavators for now.
Thank you again for your continued support of Ecojustice — when we stick together, we will keep winning for nature.
From coast to coast to coast, Ecojustice goes to court and uses the full force of the law to protect what we value most — the air we breathe, the water we drink, a safe climate.
Article submitted and written by Devon Page, Executive Director, Ecojustice