Shared Path says MZOs are compromising truth and reconciliation efforts in Ontario

Shared Path’s question for all party leaders: How are you going to ensure all land development, including MZOs, respect Aboriginal and treaty rights by adhering to the duty to consult and accommodate?

TORONTO, May 16, 2022 /CNW/ – Shared Path Consultation Initiative is concerned that the unbridled use of Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) is compromising truth and reconciliation efforts between Indigenous Nations and the wider society in Ontario. As the 2022 provincial election approaches, we want to draw voters’ attention to the negative impacts of MZOs on Aboriginal and treaty rights.

Recent amendments made to the Planning Act under Bill 257 retroactively allowed that MZO developments do not have to conform with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). This change concerns us because:  

  1. It is not consistent with the honour of the Crown and the Duty to Consult and Accommodate, established by the Supreme Court of Canada based on Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 that affirms existing Aboriginal and treaty rights.

  2. It undermines the vision and principles reflected in the PPS (specifically Part IV sections 1.2, 2.0, 2.6 and 4.0) and erodes relationships between municipalities and Indigenous Nations.

  3. It is not consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly the right of Indigenous peoples to have a relationship with, and access to, the lands and resources traditional to their communities, and the right to free, prior, and informed consent regarding activity within these traditional territories.

  4. It undermines truth and reconciliation efforts such as call to action #52: that governments accept Aboriginal title over land and that the burden of proving any limitations on these rights shifts to those who assert that such limitations exist.

The 2020 PPS has strengthened its language around Indigenous consultation and engagement. The amendments to the Planning Act made under Bill 257 tarnish the goodwill and benefits brought by these efforts by undermining the authority of the PPS. 

The province has also failed to step in and provide technical and financial assistance to municipalities seeking to consult and accommodate Indigenous Nations. According to an Auditor General Report released in November 2021, “the Minister has publicly stated that he expects that before a municipality requests an MZO it does its due diligence, which includes… engaging with potentially-affected Indigenous communities. The Minister has publicly stated that MZOs granted on non-provincially owned land are made at the request of the local municipality.” Yet, the report goes on to recount that at least one municipality requested a technical document from the province to help steer engagement regarding their implementation of the Growth Plan – as required in the Plan – and were informed one was not available.

We are hearing from an increasing number of First Nations who oppose the use of MZOs without early and ongoing consultation and accommodation of Indigenous interests. We see the increasing use of MZOs as a symptom of a broader issue of ignoring Aboriginal and treaty rights in our land use planning regime.

SOURCE Shared Path Consultation Initiative

Shared Path says MZOs are compromising truth and reconciliation efforts in Ontario WeeklyReviewer

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