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Ontario Premier Doug speaks at a press conference at Queen's Park in Toronto on Nov. 7.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is justifying his proposal to remove land from the environmentally protected Greenbelt in order to build homes by saying the housing crisis has worsened and will become more dire because of increased immigration.

Ford says he welcomes a recent federal government announcement that it is seeking to boost immigration levels, bringing in 500,000 people in 2025.

But, he says, if hundreds of thousands of additional newcomers a year start arriving in Ontario, there isn’t going to be anywhere to house them.

The province announced Friday that it is proposing to remove land from the Greenbelt, which was created to protect environmentally sensitive regions from development, in order to build at least 50,000 new homes, while adding new land to it elsewhere.

It’s a step the government vowed last year not to take.

The province has launched a 30-day consultation on removing about 7,400 acres in 15 different areas from the Greenbelt, and adding 9,400 acres elsewhere.

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