BLIZZARD: Politicians use pandemic to build unpopular projects

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Provincial and municipal governments have likewise teamed up to expedite projects with a minimum of public scrutiny.

Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark tweeted recently about how the provincial government is using, “Minister’s Zoning Orders to quickly cut red tape and get essential projects underway across Ontario to help with our economic recovery.”

That may sound like motherhood and apple pie unless you live in an area where one of these “ministerial orders” has been used to push through an unwanted project on unwilling hosts without meaningful community input.

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Let me declare a conflict of interest on this. I live in the east-end Oakridge community where one such project is planned. Another smaller building is planned for the west end.

After the pandemic hit, residents received notice the city was moving ahead with a 56-bed modular-build housing unit for the homeless. And before you call opposition to this NIMBY-ism, Oakridge already has everything in its backyard: Halfway houses, rehabs and social housing.

Researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital Centre for Research on Inner City Health ranked Oakridge 135th out of 140 — the fifth worse neighbourhood in Toronto.

The project was approved with lighting speed and only online “meetings” for local residents to express their concerns.

I’m reasonably computer savvy. I can deal with Zoom and Skype with no problem, but I was unable to use the link the city sent.

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