Last chance to tell Ontario to strengthen and grow the Greenbelt and choose smarter growth. Take action by signing our petition below.
Dear Minister Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs
Honourable Glenn Murray, MPP, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Honourable Steven Del Duca, MPP, Minister of Transportation
Honourable Kathryn McGarry, MPP, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
Honourable Jeff Leal, MPP, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
The provincial Growth Plan and three land conservation plans (Niagara Escarpment Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and Greenbelt Plan) are designed to work together to help us protect what is most valuable and grow smarter in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) region.
Your proposed amendments to these plans are a positive improvement over the existing levels of protection for sensitive natural systems and farmland and significantly strengthen land-use planning policies. I encourage you to move forward to adopt these changes as soon as possible.
I urge you to consider the proposed expansion areas recommended by the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance and include the river corridors, significant wetlands and moraine features of Wellington County. This would protect our natural heritage systems, our clean water sources, reduce climate change impacts, support the agriculture economy, reduce traffic congestion and build smart, walkable, mixed use transit-friendly communities. We won’t have the resilient communities we need without clear provincial leadership.
Please act to:
1. Grow the Greenbelt: Expand the Greenbelt to include a comprehensive protected bluebelt of vulnerable water supplies (including key headwater features, ground water recharge areas, surface water features and urban river valleys) as well as additional prime farmland and sensitive natural heritage systems. Ensure complete mapping of these systems is quickly undertaken for the entire Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) with input from ENGO’s and local communities. The announcement to add 21 urban river valleys and their coastal wetlands is a welcome step. Now is the time to move forward on adding these and other valuable lands to the Greenbelt’s protective fold.
2. Strengthen the Greenbelt: Uplift and clarify Greenbelt Plan policies across all four plans, seeking the highest level of protection for agricultural land and natural heritage systems. Put in place new rules to restrict infrastructure in the Greenbelt including highways, energy generation and transmission, sewage pipes and fuel lines and address fill issues across the Greenbelt.
3. Stop Urban Sprawl in its Tracks: Protect the Greenbelt for the long-term by holding the line on current municipal urban boundaries in the GGH and freezing them for 10 years. Land swaps or removal of lands from the Greenbelt should not be considered as there is more than enough land set aside by municipalities to accommodate forecasted population growth for the GGH beyond 2031. All new growth within existing urban boundaries must come under the new rules. We don’t need to keep sprawling over our farmland and natural areas.
4. Protect and Support Ontario’s Agricultural Sector: Further protect productive farmland and recognize the diverse activities needed to support the agricultural economy across the GGH by mapping the agricultural system, and adding significant farmland that’s at-risk to the Greenbelt’s protected area. Support farming communities with flexible on-farm zoning, permitted uses, policy guidance and other incentives.
5. Reinforce Smart Growth: Better align the growth plan with the Big Move transit plan objectives, permitting higher densities within 2 km of transit hubs in urban growth centres and provide multiple ways to access transit hubs, including cycling, walking and driving. Prioritize and tie investment in public transit with relieving congestion and servicing existing urban areas that meet intensification requirements.
6. Create Livable Communities: Support efficient development in urban growth centres by setting mandatory requirements for building denser cities while aligning growth with existing public transit, water, road and sewer capacity in towns and villages outside of the urban growth centres. End municipal exemptions for intensification targets in urban growth centres. Improve the flow of people and goods across the region by prioritizing investment in public transit, rail, and existing highways over building new highways so that the transportation network better serves and reinforces smart growth rather than sprawl.
7. Make Climate Action a Priority: The Greenbelt and Growth Plans are key to climate action success in Ontario. Address climate change by dedicating revenues from cap-and-trade to programs that restore and enhance the Greenbelt’s natural landscape and further reduce emissions. Direct funds towards enhancement and securement of the GGH’s natural heritage systems, at-risk farmland, public transit, incentivize energy efficient buildings and living green infrastructure.
8. Set-up the Greenbelt and Growth Plan for Long-Term Success: The success of these plans rests with effective implementation. The province must lead the oversight, research, monitoring, reporting to effectively protect the Greenbelt and guide growth, and prepare for the next review. An empowered oversight body will be required with the mandate and expertise and adequate resources to assist and guide municipal partners.