Raul Freitas

Some things change



It was no surprise to anyone that the Auditor General’s report on Premier Ford’s opening up of protected lands for development was riddled with inconsistencies and smoke and mirrors. It was no surprise that the biggest developers in the province, who are also PC party benefactors, had a hand in aiding the current provincial government in deciding what to do and where. They’re not in it solely for profit, right?

They want to be front row and centre in order to ease the pain of thousands of Ontario families who can’t find an affordable home to purchase or rent. They’ve been buying up this land for years hoping for the opportunity to do so. The biggest chunk of the protected land lies north of Pickering, the DRAP, or Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve, where an estimated 30,000 units could eventually pop up.

As always, the handful of developers, (I use the plural because it may actually be more than one), state that all the money for the non-existent infrastructure will not be carried by the taxpayers, but we all know that statements like that don’t carry much commitment, especially with projects that take years to complete. Time is a great reliever of promises, because things tend to be forgotten. Plus, in any case, no developer is in it for charity or goodwill, which is acceptable, they are, after all, in it for the money. My beef is why we consistently get fed this jargon of governments putting their faith in these corporations.

Talks are still underway, behind closed doors, in a bid to hammer out exactly how much these developers will dish out for things like schools, health centres, and public spaces. Again, I don’t understand how these things aren’t tidied up BEFORE the laws are passed, removing the protection of these lands. These things are always done after the fact, which only raises suspicions over how these deals are made.

The land is put on the chopping block, corporations are buying it up long before the rules are lifted, and only after, are the developers in negotiations with government to decide how much they must give back. Cart before the horse? But why is it always like this? Why do people never count? You just know that in a few years the land will all be developed, these corporations will have raked in billions, and the problems will still exist, and will probably have become worse.

The story is always the same. Capitalism doesn’t function in conjunction with social, or even affordable housing, it goes completely against the mantra. Capitalism is awesome at creating these problems, but doesn’t have the tools to fix them, or even care. Only a government acting on behalf of its people can develop solutions for its people.

The benefits of privatization and/or the so-called public-private partnerships always end up tilted towards those who seek only profit. They can’t ever work any other way because the private sector is accountable to people who invest to make money. Investors care little about how their money is used, as long as the dividends keep rolling in. If we can bail out banks, investment firms, and subsidize oil companies, we can certainly build homes that people can afford to live in.

We can also regulate prices of anything that human beings need, to be able to live with some dignity. Talk is cheap, that’s why they feed us so much of it.

Fiquem bem.

Raul Freitas/MS


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