Development frozen as Tories offer Seaton property to builders Richard Brennan, Gail Swainson and Ian Urquhart Staff Reporters CHRIS HODGSON: Will announce moraine protection deal today.
RICK MADONIK DE BAEREMAEKER: Environmentalist calls the moraine deal The Mike Harris government will announce today a development freeze on most of the Oak Ridges Moraine, including a land swap that will protect a key chunk of it in Richmond Hill.
Municipal Affairs Minister Chris Hodgson is to announce legislation "ÃÂwhich includes the land deal, a development freeze on huge portions of the moraine, and a $75 million parkland protection fund "ÃÂ in Albion Hills at 10:30 a.m., The Star has learned.
Under the land swap deal, five powerful development consortiums with plans to build 8,000 homes on about 2,500 acres of undeveloped moraine land in Richmond Hill "ÃÂ on either side of Yonge St. in Richmond Hill, north of Stouffville Rd. "ÃÂ will turn most of the property over to public ownership.
It will include Philips Lake and Bond Lake.
In return, the landowners will be given property of equal development value in the provincially owned future town of Seaton in Pickering, sources say. Appraisers will assess the Richmond Hill and Seaton lands to determine how much Seaton land the developers will get.
Seaton has long been on the books to be developed as a housing community of up to 90,000 people, double the size of Pickering today. In the 1970s, Seaton was the site of a proposed airport project that never got off the ground.
"This is the strongest, greenest and most important land use protection plan in the history of Ontario, even better than the Niagara Escarpment plan, which is considered one of the best in the world," crowed environmentalist Glenn De Baeremaeker on hearing the news. "This was a courageous, gutsy move by Harris and Chris Hodgson "ÃÂ they had enough backbone to stand up to the developers." Part of the historic moraine protection legislation, to be tabled today at Queen's Park, includes placing hundreds of thousands of hectares of the Oak Ridges Moraine off limits to development.
The province will allow a provision, however, to revisit the freeze after the first 10 years, a move opposed by many environmentalists.
The government is also expected to put up about $75 million in cash and land endowment for parkland development, including