The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance congratulated the McGuinty government today for beginning the process of growing the Greenbelt in southern Ontario.
“This announcement couldn’t have come at a better time, as citizens outside the Greenbelt are facing huge new developments and threats to their local green space and agricultural lands,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the third anniversary of the Greenbelt than with the announcement of the process to make it bigger and better,” said Caroline Schultz, Executive Director, Ontario Nature.
The pattern of proposed development in southern Ontario is threatening to hem in the agricultural and Natural Heritage Systems of the Greenbelt before a comprehensive landform conservation plan is established, a fate suffered by the 1970’s Parkway Belt.
Since its adoption in 2005, members of Greenbelt Alliance, environmental groups, ratepayer groups and moms and dads have been asking that Ontario’s award-winning Greenbelt be expanded to protect areas of the province now the target of “leap-frog” development.
Ontario’s leading environmental groups also united under the banner “Priorities for Ontario” during last fall’s provincial election campaign. The coalition found that every mainstream political party supported the Greenbelt, with three advocating for growing the Greenbelt to reflect the on-the-ground reality of accelerated development applications outside the Greenbelt.
The coalition of 13 leading environmental groups called on all political parties to: Grow the Greenbelt by expanding its boundaries at least into southern Simcoe County and the region of Kitchener/Waterloo/Guelph – areas where sprawl is threatening to leapfrog the current Greenbelt; extend the Rouge protected area to include the Duffins Creek watershed; and pass a Lake Simcoe Conservation Act to protect this threatened watershed.
The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance has also long called for the expansion of the Greenbelt.
The Greenbelt Alliance cautioned, however, that the hard work of growing the Greenbelt has yet to begin.
“Greenbelt protection must be expanded to protect the Duffins Creek watershed. Duffins Creek is the last intact cold water ecosystem in the GTA,” said Sierra Club of Canada, Ontario Chapter Director Dan McDermott.
“It’s no secret that some areas next to the Greenbelt are under more threat than others; Simcoe county, the “Wild West” of land speculation in Ontario, in particular is in need of Greenbelt expansion,” said David Donnelly, counsel to Environmental Defence. “Greenbelts don’t happen organically; they need leaders and strong action to grow. Today’s announcement sets the stage for finishing the job of protecting Ontario’s future.”
About the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance: The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is a diverse multi-stakeholder coalition of more than 80 organizations who share a common vision for protecting and expanding the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. Environmental Defence is the coordinator of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance.