Ministry Zoning Order - What is it?
A Ministry Zoning Order, or "MZO" for short, gives the ability for the Ministry of Municipal Housing and Affairs, Ontario, to make the final ruling on how a piece of land is used across the province. An MZO gives the Ministry omnipotent power over the decision of use for the parcel of land in question. It offers no appeal process. No public consultation. It ignores planning departments. It ignores environmental groups. And, lastly, an MZO ignores all official plans drawn for the highlighted piece of land by both the municipal and regional governments.
Recently the City of Pickering issued an MZO for their developer to develop the White-Lands in north-central Pickering. The "White-Lands" refer to more than 1,000 acres of vacant land bordered by the Highway 7/407 corridor in the Seaton Community. The City of Pickering proposes a collection of mixed use residential-commercial units including a parcel of land approximately 800 acres in size designated as "prestige employment land". This last piece of land is now known as the "Innovation Corridor".
The Region of Durham and the Town of Ajax have gone on record to say that, if approved as currently proposed, this development would cause all kinds of flooding in South Ajax. Both the Town of Ajax and Durham Region are on record as adamantly opposed to this MZO.
Currently, the MZO has been deferred. It is not gone. It has just been postponed.
The Town of Ajax also discovered that the City of Pickering has requested another MZO on behalf of Triple Property (Durham Live). This proposal is to have the current restrictions on Phase 3 (known as "H3") of Durham Live lifted. If the MZO is successful, and H3 is lifted, the current proposed exit from the 401 is off the table. This is a result no one is in favour of.
What is even more interesting is the NEWLY added amendment to this proposal: a residential/condo portion with a retail component, and a warehouse which is suggested to range between 1 to 4 million square feet! This has never been previously discussed, nor indicated on past plans, nor brought forward in any public open house. Further, since this new proposal makes no mention of road improvements, the province has told the City of Pickering and the Town of Ajax to talk about this amongst themselves and come up with an agreement on these lands.
We, at the Town of Ajax, have requested that the road infrastructure must be addressed before H3 is lifted and Phase 3 of Durham Live begins. A potential warehouse will increase truck traffic in an area which is already congested. If this MZO is approved by the Ministry, Ajax will have no recourse. What should have taken 4 years of careful planning and consultation will be wiped out with this one order allowing Pickering to execute their development plan of Durham Live at their will and on their own whim.
So, you tell me: Should the Ministry of Municipal Housing and Affairs, Ontario, be allowed to make this decision through the MZO process? Does the Ministry even know where Church Street is and that it is just a 2-lane road which leads directly into the heart of our historic Village?
As the Regional Councillor for Ward 1, I am not in favour of the MZO to have H3 at Durham Live lifted. Nor do I believe the Ministry should be allowed to make a decision through this process enacting not one, but two MZOs on behalf of the City of Pickering that will so greatly impact the Town of Ajax, our residents, and our quality of life.
The City of Pickering can not be allowed to benefit off the back of the Town of Ajax.
Keyword tags:MZO, Ministry Zoning Order, AJx and Pickering Planning, Ministry Zoning Order Durham Live, Ministry Zoning Order White-Lands
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