Minister’s Zoning Order – 50-100 Bloomington Road

The Town was recently informed that the Province has changed direction on their use of the property they own at Bloomington (behind Cardinal Carter – at the end of Academy Drive.)  They are now looking to quickly market the property. To expedite that process, a Ministers Zoning Order was issued without even any notice to the Town that this change in zoning was coming.

The Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) for the Bloomington property rezones land previously zoned as ‘Institutional’ to allow for residential housing.  Under the MZO, 4 acres of the property will now be zoned R5 which permits 30 foot wide single family lots or roughly 75 housing units will be built.  This translates into 18.5 units per acre, whereas our OP only allows 2 units per acre.   The remaining 6 acres of the property is planned for the development of a 128 bed LTC. 

The Minister’s announcement heralded the development of the LTC, leaving out a few salient points.  The most important of which is – an MZO is NOT required to develop a LTC facility on this land.  It is already permitted on this site as the land is – or was – zoned as ‘Institutional’.  An MZO is not needed for the LTC development – but it is needed to bypass our Municipal Official Plan and jam in 75 homes on land that is not zoned for residential housing.

So that everyone understands what a MZO is, A Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) is part of the Planning Act; it allows the Minister – in this case, Minister Steve Clark – to make a ruling on how a piece of land is to be used and zoned in the province, with no opportunity to appeal by municipalities, or citizens.

Their use had been, to date, for limited and very specific purposes of provincial significance.   The development of a 128 bed LTC would be of provincial significance – our community, our Region needs more LTC beds to meet the needs of our seniors.  But, as the land is already zoned ‘Institutional’, an MZO is not required to achieve that purpose.  And they certainly don’t need to rezone 4 acres of land for sale to residential developers to achieve it.  Our community does not need overdevelopment to achieve a provincial planning goal.

Ministers should provide a clear rationale as to why they need to override our Official Plan, our community vision, to accomplish their purported planning goals.

That did not occur. 

Put simply, there does not appear to be any ‘planning’ rationale for the MZO.  Worse still, there is no rationale to change the existing institutional zoning to residential zoning on this site. With the change to R5, the Province now permits 30 foot single family lots backing onto an estate community (Elderberry Trail) on lands located in the Oak Ridges Moraine, an environmentally sensitive area subject to its own Provincial Plan with very strict policies on ground water recharge and natural heritage.  This is the reason why the Town’s OPA 34 (Yonge Street South Secondary Plan) only allows density of 2 units per gross acre across the planning area.  So, not only does the MZO force residential zoning in an area not zoned for it, it increases the density 9 fold!

To change that zoning so that the land can be sold for development makes no sense.

And despite the Minister’s claim that the dense residential development of 75 houses that will be built on that site will somehow be “affordable housing”, I have seen no evidence to back up that claim.  Currently, homes on 30 foot lots in Aurora generally go for around a million dollars – not sure who would consider that price ‘affordable’.

This is the problem when the Province makes planning decisions that override local Municipal Official Plans without consulting the affected communities; it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding and consideration of a community’s vision and defined long-term planning needs; in this case, as outlined in our Provincially approved OPA 34.

Municipalities are required to have Official Plans.  Plans that take years of work, thousands of hours of staff time, community consultations and Council deliberations – not to mention the amount of taxpayer dollars.

What is the point in engaging in this costly, time consuming planning process if it is just going to be discarded by the Province?

Do we welcome the Province building a LTC facility in our Town in that area, absolutely! What we do not welcome is the Minister circumventing the public planning and consultation process and Aurora’s Provincially approved Official Plan to rezone land for sale and overdevelop environmentally sensitive lands on the Oak Ridges Moraine. 

This government prides itself on “working with” communities and there have been several great examples of consultative governance.

But in this case?…this is not working with our community.  It is planning by edict and it is not acceptable.

I have reached out to both our MPPs to have the Minister call me to discuss the MZO, failing which I will seek to speak directly with the Premier regarding this process and the protection of the integrity of our Official Plan’.

More to come on this and updates to follow. In the meantime, I would suggest everyone write to our MPP’s to let them know that this is unacceptable!!


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8 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this information.
    It’s become more and more obvious the Ontario Conservative government of Doug Ford is taking advantage of everyone’s attention toward COVID as a convenient time to keep their part of the bargain with the developers who donated such large amounts to their election campaign. It’s been evident in Richmond Hill for some time. They seem to be adding LTC in each development. I suspect these are private for profit LTC facilities at a time when it’s so clear the for profit homes should be taken over by a responsible government. It’s so shameful.

  2. The Covid fog, the gopher, Trudeau, in Ottawa comes out at 11 AM every day to spend another billion or two of your kids money and Douglas in Toronto and his friends decimate the Conservation Authority’s legislative mandate and throw out MZO’s as a reward to whoever…. whilst we are all just too overwhelmed with everything else.

    As an aside the property will be sold for a song based on past government sales, a.k.a. Highway 407 (Frank Klees), or look up the old Leslie Frost Centre for sale just south of Dorset and north of Minden on Highway 35. 40 acres of lakefront, 1.2 million. You won’t get your 30 foot lot for that in Aurora.

  3. I am a cyclist, living in Toronto, who used to cycle up Leslie to Newmarket every Sunday 15 years ago. I drove down Leslie recently from Keswick and was totally astounded at the development of all those ugly townhouses and big box stores on such lovely land. These MZO’S are going too far. “For the People” who is kidding who?
    As an aside, I read they want to build a four or six lane expressway through the Holland Marsh farmland to connect the 404 to the 400. Why doesn’t the Ford government do the right thing and buy back the underused 407 instead and make it a free highway in order to preserve our fastly disappearing farm land.

  4. We need to adhere to democratic processes and laws. In this case, requiring an environmental assessment .An executive override is undemocratic. Special interest groups’/big business usually are behind them. We need to protect our environment and biodiversity

  5. We have to remember that town council can vote to block development such as this. This has already been done before by other towns and we should do the same. We need to stand up and do what’s right to block these MZOs and show that it is not okay to destroy the environment. Enough mistakes have been made in the past. It is time to make a difference.

  6. Why is everyone so upset about the creation of houses? We are all clearly fortunate to already own homes in the Town. We must think about our kids and grandkids before we bash the creation of new homes, especially homes next to a GO Station. The town is already terribly unaffordable and Mr. Trudeau plans on allowing millions more in to the country. Our housing policy must match their immigration policy or else our kids suffer

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