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Colourful fall forest in Ontario with blue lake in background.

press release

Ecojustice statement on boundary expansion reversal announcement

October 23, 2023

Toronto, Ont./ Traditional territories of several First Nations including the Williams Treaties First Nations, Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation — Ecojustice lawyer Laura Bowman has welcomed news that the Ontario government intends to reverse its forced expansion of the urban boundaries in municipalities across the province. The reversal follows two orders obtained by Ecojustice — on behalf of its client Environmental Defence — from the Information and Privacy Commissioner to disclose documents about how the government made key decisions about the expansions. The documents have not yet been disclosed.

In late 2022 Ecojustice on behalf of Environmental Defence also brought a judicial review of the government’s decision to force Hamilton to expand its urban boundary. That litigation, which argues the decision was unreasonable and unlawful, is ongoing. 

Following the announcement by Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra, Ecojustice lawyer Laura Bowman said:

“The decision to change the official plans of municipalities and force the expansion of urban boundaries across the province would have caused irreversible damage by allowing inefficient, costly, car-dependent sprawl in sensitive areas. We are pleased that the Ontario government has announced that it intends to reverse these decisions. This is a victory for good planning in Ontario.

“There was never a realistic possibility that un-serviced development approvals, on the fringes of urban areas, could provide fast, affordable housing. The reversal suggests that the decisions were biased by interference from the Minister’s office and were not based on independent advice about how to create housing.”

“For now, we await the full release of the legislation to reverse these decisions and will be watching to ensure that the legislation is effective.”

Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.