The old saying is that a lie can spread halfway around the world before the truth can put its shoes on. That saying rings true in the lies being spread about land being taken out of the Greenbelt for development.
Have you heard the story about the wealthy developer family that took out a $100-million loan at 21% interest to buy a property just before the Ford government announced they would allow some 7,400 acres of Greenbelt land to be developed for housing?
That would be a juicy story if true and might hint at someone getting the inside scoop in time to snap up some soon-to-be-valuable land. It’s even been cited as people call for the Ontario Provincial Police to launch an investigation into possible wrongdoing.
It’s not true though.
In May 2021, TACC Developments, controlled by the DeGasperis family, purchased a 107-acre parcel of land off Pine Valley Drive north of Teston Road in Vaughan. They bought the land because there were 27 acres of development land included in the parcel and most of the land actually remains in the Greenbelt even after changes by the Ford government.
The land is also next to another 200-acre parcel TACC owns that has long been zoned for housing development.
Also, the 107-acre parcel wasn’t purchased for $100 million but for $50 million. TACC took out a $30-million loan to finance the purchase with an option to increase the loan to $100 million if needed to finance development costs.
As for the interest rate, it wasn’t 21% but was set at prime plus 75 basis points.
The original story, published in November by the Globe and Mail, didn’t confirm the facts before putting the story out in the world.
Since then, there has been no end to the politicians and activists willing to comment on this wildly fake claim. The online insinuation from critics of the Ford government is that this is obvious corruption by the premier, while the DeGasperis family have been subject to racist slurs as a result.
Now, calls for a police investigation over a lie.
It’s all quite disgusting, to be honest, but par for the course in a world where alternative facts are used instead of common sense, logic and reason. It’s far easier to smear someone, to delegitimize and dehumanize them, than it is to have a reasonable conversation.
The facts in this case are simple: The DeGasperis family bought 107 acres of land to develop 27 with the remainder staying in the Greenbelt. The Ford government has removed 10 acres of this land parcel from the Greenbelt, land that runs along Pine Valley Drive, while leaving areas around creeks inside the Greenbelt.
What part of this story is corrupt? What part of this story is worthy of a police investigation?
None of it is because it’s all very normal.
So much of what is being pushed in this fight over the Greenbelt simply isn’t true. The Ford government is opening up 7,400 acres out of the more than 2 million acres in the Greenbelt while putting another 9,400 acres of land under Greenbelt protection.
Claims that we’re paving over the best farmland and putting our food security at risk are also false. Much of the land isn’t farmed for anything, much of it was serviced for development before the Greenbelt was established and one plot in Hamilton is a sod farm growing grass for housing developments.
We’re all entitled to our own opinion on what the Ford government is doing but we aren’t entitled to our own facts. It’s time to stop the lies.