Ontario’s Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister, Steve Clark, has declared his resignation amid mounting pressure from political adversaries and concerned citizens. This decision follows a prolonged period of scrutiny following multiple investigations into his ministry’s handling of Greenbelt land exchanges.
The catalyst for Clark’s resignation was the inquiry conducted by Ontario’s integrity commissioner, who not only investigated his conduct but also recommended that Clark be officially reprimanded. The commissioner’s assessment pointed to Clark’s failure to effectively supervise the process that resulted in the selection of protected Greenbelt lands for housing development.
In a preceding development, the province’s auditor general had issued a report that intensified the controversy. The auditor general’s findings revealed that the process for determining which land parcels would be made available for housing development had been significantly influenced by a small, well-connected group of developers poised to reap profits totaling billions of dollars.
In a letter shared on Monday morning, addressed to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Clark explained his decision. He expressed his initial intent to remain in his role to establish a more robust process to prevent such errors in the future. However, he ultimately recognized that his continued presence would only serve as a distraction from essential tasks. Thus, he chose to take responsibility for the situation and tendered his resignation as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, vowing to continue representing his constituents as the MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
The Ford government had previously removed approximately 2,995 hectares of Greenbelt land in December, while simultaneously adding more land elsewhere, in pursuit of constructing 50,000 homes. This move was presented as a necessary step by the Progressive Conservative government to fulfill their commitment to building 1.5 million homes over the next decade, amidst a pressing housing crisis.