Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser said the Greenbelt was not “specifically addressed” at his meeting with the premier and his provincial counterpart on Thursday, but that his focus on tackling the housing crisis would be on density – not sprawl.
“We didn’t specifically address the controversy that has been in the news but my focus right now on the federal supports that we want to put in place is driven not by creating more sprawling cities, but to try to densify and build livable communities,” Fraser told CP24 on Friday morning.
A day earlier, embattled Ontario housing minister Steve Clark dismissed calls to resign after a scathing report found he violated ethics rules when land was extracted from the Greenbelt. Instead, Clark said, “I’m sorry that we didn’t do a better job.”
While Fraser did not critique the province, he did repeatedly reiterate his approach to housing is aimed at building upward, rather than outward – a blunt contrast to the province’s plan to build 50,000 homes on Greenbelt land.
“My view is that we should be focused on growing cities…in a way that densifies and provides housing close to our services that exist. Different people have different points of view on that,” Fraser said.
He added that the support the federal government will put on the table will be aimed at incentivizing building where transit stations, amenities and services already exist, rather than sprawling cities.
“To the extent the province takes a different approach, they can do what they’re going to do within provincial jurisdiction, but to the extent that we want to put supports on the table, it’s going to be driven more by building more livable communities livable cities and densifying communities,” he said.
Environmental minister Steven Guilbeault had sharper words to share on the Ford government’s Greenbelt land swap, opposing the plan to take 7,400 acres out of the Greenbelt and replaced it with about 9,400 acres elsewhere. Guilbeault openly considered potentially intervening, calling it a “scam” while speaking to CP24 in May.
“I profoundly disagree with the characterization of Premier Ford when it comes to the Greenbelt,” Guilbeault said at the time.
Speaking to CP24 on Friday, Fraser said he would leave the Greenbelt development plans in the hands of the province.
“There’s a lot of common ground to work with. I’ll leave it to the provincial government to deal with whatever controversies they may be dealing with on a given day, then no question someday there will be federal controversies that all expect to deal with myself,” he said.
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