What would you do if you’re not  keen on listening to the sound of blasting from a mega-quarry? What if it makes you angry to see prime farmland eaten up by a sprawling housing development. Or what if you want your community to be designed to minimize air pollution from major and busy new roads.

It’s expensive and difficult, although not impossible, to get rid of these problems once they exist.  A better way is to avoid the problems altogether. That requires land-use planning.

Land-use planning may not grab your attention like a protest against a mega-quarry. It’s a complex process with plenty of rules and few Ontarians, like you, get involved.

You know who does get involved? Developers and their high-priced lawyers. Those groups use their deep pockets to profit, often at the expense of Ontario’s species at risk, wetlands and more livable communities.

The 3 Letters You Need to Know About
We suspect that telling you that the Government of Ontario is reviewing the Provincial Policy Statement, which governs land use planning, will not bring you to the edge of your seat. What if we reduce it to its acronym? PPS. Still nothing, eh?

That’s why we’re doing a lot of the heavy lifting, along with help from the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, and others. We’ve been following the changes in planning laws, engaging interested groups and acting as the voice of Ontarians who want to avoid these land-use conflicts before they begin. That’s why we submitted our comments on the PPS last week.

So What’s At Stake?
We want land-use planning to value the habitat of species at risk and wetlands the same way it does quarries. Sounds logical, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, we have a rather sad history of allowing quarries to trump habitat and species concerns.

We also want to make sure that protecting the habitat of at-risk species isn’t left to the whim of a handful of government decision-makers. We want the government to promote more livable cities and neighbourhoods that will make trips shorter, mass transit more viable and cycling and walking more attractive. That way we can decrease our greenhouse gas emissions and limit nasty changes to our climate.

Included in our submissions is much more, including better protection of coastal wetlands, farms, and natural heritage.

Final Words
With strong planning laws and policies, you can prevent mega-quarries and housing developments from threatening species at risk or creating neighbourhoods that increase our greenhouse gas emissions. And if mega-quarries and housing developments are proposed, you’ll be able to fight them with provincial laws and policies clearly on your side.

That’s why three letters, PPS, can make life better for you.

By Albert Koehl, Staff Lawyer, and Dr. Anastasia Lintner, Staff Lawyer and Economist