Hamilton city council is requesting the RCMP investigate not only the province's Greenbelt land removal but also its decision to expand the city's urban boundary and make other surprise changes to its official plan.
Coun. Maureen Wilson put forward the motion at a council meeting Wednesday as revelations continue to emerge about how developers and their representatives appear to have influenced the Ford government to open up rural land and change planning rules to allow their projects to go ahead.
As reported by CBC Hamilton this week, the province copied a developer's exact request into the official plan so he could move forward with building condos in Ancaster. The developer's representative had attended Premier Doug Ford's daughter's stag and doe in the summer of 2022.
"The purpose of my motion is not to impugn or suggest," Wilson said. "The purpose of my motion is to state that the residents of Hamilton are deserving of the information, are deserving accountability. The only way that can come to fruition is through the scope of the RCMP investigation."
The RCMP has already launched a criminal investigation into what led to the province to remove 15 sites primarily owned by developers from the Greenbelt last fall, including three in Hamilton. Recently, the Ford government reversed that decision and returned the land.
'Residents are owed transparency,' councillor says
Then this week, Housing Minister Paul Calandra announced he'd be introducing legislation to reverse changes to 12 municipalities' official plans and urban boundaries, including in Hamilton and Niagara Region.
Wilson said while she welcomes that decision, the minister still has not confirmed how and why "unilateral" decisions were made without including city planning officials in those conversations.
"It's not satisfying because I think the residents of Hamilton are owed transparency," she said.
Coun. Craig Cassar said the request to the RCMP to expand the scope of its investigation "makes perfect, logical sense." There's overlapping players and timelines, with discussions between the province and developers about Greenbelt land and urban boundary expansions taking place in September and October last year.
The motion passed unanimously directing Mayor Andrea Horwath to make the request to the RCMP commissioner.
MPP Sandy Shaw represents the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas riding, where many of the province's changes took place. (Bobby Hristova/CBC )
Following CBC Hamilton's story about how the province copied, word for word, a developer's requests into the city's official plan, local NDP MPP Sandy Shaw put questions to Calandra at Queen's Park on Wednesday.
"The people of Hamilton wish you'd just stop taking direction from speculators," Shaw said in the Chamber. "How many changes from the official plan came directly, word for word, from speculators?"
Calandra did not directly answer her question and instead said the NDP doesn't "want a system where people can get ahead in this province. Anything that's about helping people advance, they're going to be against."
He said the Progressive Conservatives are the party that's about removing "obstacles" so more homes are built for Ontario residents.