MZO debate rages on in Haldimand

By MPP Bobbi Ann Brady

Those opposed to the development of a city at Nanticoke may recall in March we were all able to breathe a sigh of relief. It was at that time, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Paul Calandra said he would cease and desist issuing new Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs) until a new framework would be established to outline the conditions under which orders would be considered.

The Minister then informed Haldimand County if they wanted the MZO to be reconsidered they would have to provide a new request.

The Minister also highlighted this in response to a petition I had launched back in January. The petition highlighted the impact on infrastructure from the proposed new city, such as existing roadways, plus the maintenance of new roads and the need for new medical, police and fire facilities. I believe the Minister saw the folly in allowing the eventual migration of 40,000 people to an industrial park; one that is isolated from many community services.

An industrial park is designed to attract investment and create employment. The Nanticoke Industrial Park boasts thousands of direct and indirect jobs. Rezoning the lands at Nanticoke could imperil the future of those jobs. There are some who believe that the big players at Nanticoke are simply blowing smoke when they say they refuse to work around an eventual 40,000 residents.

Toying with big industry and the associated jobs is not something I’d be willing to gamble with and neither would those who rely on a solid paycheque either. In this area we need more industry to create an environment where workers can roll out of bed, travel five to 20 minutes down the road to a good paying job instead of having residents travel outside the area to work. When they work in the city, oftentimes their money is spent on groceries and other items on their way home and not in their own community.

Oddly enough, despite the fact the new framework is not finalized, the subject of the MZO popped up on the council agenda this past Tuesday. After a great deal of discussion, four of the seven (the majority) of Haldimand County councillors voted in favour of supporting an MZO request from Empire Homes. And I suspect they are willing to roll the dice with respect to heavy industry leaving town.

If council was somehow confused about what the public desired with respect to the development, perhaps public consultation should have been conducted. Three elections have been fought and won on the issue of the MZO and the development at Nanticoke so it troubles me why the will of the people of Haldimand County is not being carried out.

Councillors know how I feel about the MZO – I’ve been honest and transparent, and I’ve only represented what the majority of constituents tell me because that’s my job. In an interesting turn of events, the day after the vote on the MZO, Haldimand County Councillor Stewart Patterson brought forward a motion that would have me banned from attending meetings at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to advocate alongside the county. Strange, especially given the fact that the county has not yet heard which meetings they may receive at AMO.

I will elaborate on this turn of events next week.  I hope to appear before Haldimand County council to respond to comments made by councillors during debate and to stand up for you and your democratic rights. Strange times indeed.

Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk