The Canadian Press
The RCMP has started looking into a potential investigation related to the Ontario government’s removal of some land from the Greenbelt for housing development.
The Ontario Provincial Police said in a statement on Wednesday that it had received a number of inquiries regarding a Greenbelt investigation and referred the matter to the RCMP to avoid what it called “any potential perceived conflict of interest.”
The RCMP now confirms that it is beginning an “evaluation of the available information” as referred by the OPP and after conducting a full assessment, the Mounties will determine whether to launch an investigation.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking to reporters at an unrelated news conference today, declined to comment on the potential investigation, but said while there is a need for more housing, he doesn’t think “that the only solution is to build on protected lands.”
News of the potential police probe comes a day after the resignation of the chief of staff to the Municipal Affairs and Housing minister who was at the centre of a damning Ontario auditor general’s report into the government’s decision to open up parts of the protected area.
The report found that all but one of the 15 sites ultimately removed from the Greenbelt last year were suggested not by civil servants, but by Minister Steve Clark’s chief of staff Ryan Amato, who was given packages at an industry event by two key developers.
The OPP said at the time of the report’s release that there was no change in status to its ongoing review into the matter by its anti-rackets branch.
In its statement, the OPP says it was not appropriate to provide further comment, “in order to protect the integrity of the process.”