Duffins Creek wetland complex, near Pickering, Ontario, is a provincially significant wetland that has been targeted by the Ontario government for the development of a warehouse facility.
Provincially Significant Wetlands, such as the Duffins Creek complex, are of huge importance to local communities, helping to mitigate flooding, store carbon, filter water and provide habitat to wildlife.
In late 2020, the Ontario government issued a Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) to try and push through development on a provincially significant wetland complex despite widespread opposition.
MZOs are meant to be extraordinary measures for provincial ministers. In the past, they were rarely used and were reserved for exceptional circumstances. But in 2020 alone, the Ontario government issued over 30 MZOs to fast-track routine development applications.
The proposed development at Lower Duffins Creek faced considerable opposition from several groups and thousands of citizens. The Williams Treaties First Nations were not consulted and voiced concerns. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority has also rejected development in protected wetlands.
Since the Ford government was elected in Ontario in 2018, they have launched an assault on the province’s environmental protections. They have made major changes to Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act, the Planning Act and other environmental laws without consulting Ontarians as required by the provinces Environmental Bill of Rights.
In June 2021, the Ontario government revoked the MZO thanks to the dedication of environmental activists, the local community and Indigenous groups who campaigned against the development.