Ontario says it will protect land for every development the government fast-tracks

housing

Ontario says it will protect land for every development the government fast-tracks.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark says two acres will be added to the protected Greenbelt in southern Ontario for every acre of land developed through a minister's zoning order.

Those orders give the government power to fast-track land development projects without full consultations.

Clark's pledge covers M-Z-Os he's issued in the past and those he will in the future.

Critics worry it's a sign that the government is planning to issue more of the controversial orders without full consideration of environmental harms.

The Progressive Conservative government has issued more M-Z-Os than previous governments and says it's doing so to build housing and create jobs.

The Green party says the announcement is a distraction from environmentally harmful policies and overuse of the zoning order tool.

And New Democrats argue the government is developing valuable land and -- quote -- ``pretending to replace it'' with less ecologically significant land.