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That drew the ire of Ontario Premier Doug Ford who threatened to return the lands to their protected status and put other developers “on notice” that they had to start building soon.
On Wednesday, the province said it had begun the process of returning the land — located on Kingston Road in Ajax, Ont. — to the Greenbelt.
“At no time was the intention to sell or change the ownership structure disclosed,” the Ford government said in a statement.
“This lack of transparency raises serious concerns about the owner’s ability to meet the government’s expectation that homes be built in a timely manner, including the need to show meaningful progress before the end of year.”
The province accused the landowner of potentially turning the property into a business park.
The private listing, previously obtained by Global News, described the property as 104 acres of “future development land,” with the potential for either mixed residential or employment use.
One source said the commercial real estate listing was being “shopped around to other developers” with Sept. 14 set as the deadline for competitive offers.
The province said it was informing the owners of other former Greenbelt lands that “any actions that stand in the way of building homes quickly on these lands will not be tolerated.”
People connected with the Ajax lands, however, said on Tuesday the sales listing was a misunderstanding.
A representative for the numbered company listed on property records said his clients are “foreign owners and are not developers.”
They claimed that “at no time was the property going to be sold outright” but that the owners were looking for a “joint venture partner” with development experience.
The Ford government said its criteria to develop Greenbelt lands included making “substantial” planning progress in 2023 and getting shovels in the ground by 2025. The developers are also expected to cover the cost of servicing the lands.
“If these expectations are not met, the lands will be returned to the Greenbelt,” the Ford government said.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.