A gathering in Scarborough that was planned to protest Premier Doug Ford's decision to develop on the Greenbelt became a celebration Saturday after Ford apologized to Ontarians and vowed to reverse his decision earlier in the week.
While another rally in Richmond Hill, which was also planned to protest the land swaps, still maintained an air of protest. As attendees let Ford know there are still other issues they'd like to see movement on, like the proposed Highway 413.
Following weeks of public pressure and the resignation of two ministers, Ford walked back his plan to remove large swaths of land from the protected Greenbelt on Thursday.
"I made a promise to you that I wouldn't touch the Greenbelt. I broke that promise. And for that I'm very, very sorry," Ford said.
Doly Begum, the NDP MPP for Scarborough South-West, said at the Scarborough rally on Saturday that the people deserved this moment.
"I don't think the premier would have come forward and made that apology and said that he would reverse his decision if it wasn't for the people, if it wasn't for the opposition, if it wasn't for the first nations communities, if it wasn't for local individuals and environmental activists," Begum said.
Highway 413, Ontario Place still a concern
Meanwhile, in Richmond Hill, protesters came out to keep the pressure on Ford.
"Now that the Greenbelt decision has been reversed, we feel that we want to keep the momentum going, about several other decisions," said Priya Unnikrishnan.
Among those issues is the proposed Highway 413.
The proposed highway would run for some 60 kilometres across the northwestern part of the Greater Toronto Area, from Highway 400 at the northern edge of Vaughan to the interchange of highways 401 and 407 at the western limits of Brampton and Mississauga.
A rally in Richmond Hill, which was also planned to protest the land swaps, still maintained an air of protest. As attendees let Ford know there are still other issues they'd like to see movement on, like the proposed Highway 413. (Ken Townsend/CBC)
Protester Michele Bruno is worried about that potential path.
"[Highway] 413 cuts right through the Greenbelt, right through the middle," she said.
In April, the David Suzuki Foundation asked the federal minister of environment, Steven Guilbeault, to intervene and stop the project through a petition that's racked up more than 50,000 signatures.
When CBC Toronto asked the province about environmental concerns regarding Highway 413 at that time, a spokesperson for the premier's office said in an email, "There was also a petition last summer by way of a provincial election in which nearly two million people voted for our government's plan to build Ontario, including Highway 413 and the largest public transit expansion in Canadian history."
Another concern raised by protesters on Saturday was the redevelopment of Ontario Place, which will include new parking and a private spa.
Across the city, at Ontario Place, a separate rally was being held on that issue. There, protesters gathered to protest the potential removal of hundreds of trees that could happen as part of the space's redevelopment.