Bill 23 Protest

By John Swartz

A protest against Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act drew 90 people out to vent their frustration with the Ontario government’s passage of the bill earlier this week. The crowd included people belonging to several local environment groups, people who have run for provincial office and a couple Orillia councillors.

The protest at noon in front of MPP Jill Dunlop’s closed office was part of a simultaneous effort with like-minded people in Midland and many went on to a protest taking place in Coldwater later in the afternoon.

Madeleine Fournier

Madeleine Fournier is the prime organizer of the protest.

“It’s through Green Orillia and a coalition of people; Orillia Wetland Watchers, Bob Bowles, Anna Bourgeois, Brian Peterson, Jacoby Kearey-Moreland, there’s separate organizers in Midland too,” she said.

She also was the prime motivator for a protest two weeks ago which drew a smaller crowd.

“This is excellent. Last time we were around 60 and I think we’re over that number already. Plus there will be different people in Midland,” she said.

There are several points of contention people have with the bill.

“Bill 23 passed on Monday, which is egregious. The main point now is Doug Ford is trying to pave over 7400 acres of the Green Belt,” Fournier said. “We’ve seen the developer ties to the Ford government, half of those people are generous donors to the Ford government. It’s not going to do anything to solve the climate crisis and it’s going to make the climate crisis worse. And, it’s an attack on democracy.”

Several speakers including Bob Bowles and the Couchiching Conservancy’s Mark Bissett addressed points of the legislation they believe are wrongheaded.

Councillors Janet-Lynne Durnford and Jay Fallis

Councillor Janet-Lynne Durnford took issue with the cost to municipal taxpayers and what conservation authorities are being forced to do.

“(This is) subsidizing rich developers And that’s shameful,” Durnford said. She also said the legislation is making conservation authorities identify what parts land they manage can be developed.  “It’s absolutely shameful,” she said.

She also said she believes opposition to the bill is growing.

“The tide is rising. People are organizing all across Ontario. I’ve been part of three virtual meetings this week. People are organizing because they know the dangers of this bill. We know Doug Ford’s government backs down in the face of organized people who have the best interests of the province at heart. So please do not be discouraged.”

Councillor Jay Fallis told the assembled he is presenting a report and motion at the next Orillia council meeting, December 7, asking for endorsement to oppose the legislation.

“I rarely get involved in provincial matters,” Fallis said. “For Bill 23 this is absolutely the exception. I feel an obligation to speak out,”

“What type of topsy-turvy world are we leaving for our next generation when you are seeing daily impacts of climate change.”

Bill 23 Protest

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(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


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