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VIDEO: Greenbelt scandal boils down to some serious green

Well-connected developers whose land was removed from the Greenbelt stand to profit billions; our journalists at The Trillium explain the auditor general's bombshell findings

In a bombshell report that continues to generate headlines, Ontario’s auditor-general found that Doug Ford’s government gave “preferential treatment” to prominent developers during last year’s controversial changes to the Greenbelt.

Bonnie Lysyk’s report reads like a hidden camera, explaining how certain developers used their “direct access” to a senior political staffer to push for their plots of land to be removed from the protected Greenbelt, leaving them free to build on.

Two journalists who know the details as well as anyone — Jessica Smith Cross and Aidan Chamandy of The Trillium, Village Media’s online news source at Queen’s Park — joined on our Inside the Village podcast to talk about Lysyk's findings.

“When it comes together as this narrative, it really tells the story about how people who have access to important players in the Ford government seem to get — at least some of the time — what they want," said Smith Cross. "And it is very profitable for them.”

The auditor general concluded that the Greenbelt changes could net developers at least $8.3 billion on lands that had previously been assessed for a fraction of that amount.

"And that was just in 2016 numbers," Chamandy said. "Obviously, it is 2023 now and property values have changed quite a bit in Ontario. The AG explicitly said that we are looking at a higher dollar figure than the $8.3 billion she initially announced."

You can watch the full podcast episode HERE.

Launched six months ago, The Trillium is a must-read news site devoted to in-depth, insider coverage of politics and policy at the Ontario Legislature. Passionate and plugged in, our Queen's Park team covers every angle of the Legislative Assembly, delivering the major political headlines of the day while digging deeper into key issues that impact every Ontarian.

If you haven't checked it out already, the site also features one of the best political podcasts around: The Trill. You can listen to every episode HERE, or wherever you find your favourite podcasts.

Hosted by Scott Sexsmith and Michael Friscolanti, the Editor-in-Chief of Village Media, Inside the Village is a news and current affairs podcast that provides a weekly window into some of the best local journalism from across our chain of Ontario newsrooms. Produced by Derek Turner, the program also explores bigger-picture issues that impact people across the province.

Every episode is available HERE. If you prefer the audio version, it is available wherever you find your favourite podcasts.

Have something to say? You can reach us at [email protected].

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