In 2022, the Doug Ford government set a massive political scandal in motion when it opened parts of Ontario’s Greenbelt for housing development. But behind the scenes, tensions over the protected area of farmland and green space outside of Toronto had been quietly simmering for nearly two decades.

In the first episode of our new documentary miniseries, Paydirt, host Emma McIntosh — a reporter with The Narwhal who broke some of the stories that cracked the scandal wide open — explains how the Greenbelt became such a flashpoint for fights over the housing crisis and the climate crisis.

Victor Doyle is an urban planner who led the creation of the Greenbelt in 2005. He told Emma that on some level, he did worry the Greenbelt could be at risk from land speculators, who buy up cheap farmland in hopes they’ll be able to build on it one day and cash in. “Urban land is worth 20 to 30 to 40 times the value of farmland,” he said.

So when the Ford government tried to cut into the Greenbelt after 20 years, the move raised big questions about who was set to benefit.

Paydirt is a three-part miniseries, presented in partnership with The Narwhal, taking you to the heart of Ontario’s Greenbelt scandal. New episodes will come out on the following two Mondays.

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