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Greenbelt hanging in the balance

Add your voice to grow the Greenbelt and stop decades-old sprawl

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Now is our final chance to tell the Ontario government to take the lead to protect the water, nature and communities of the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH). Important decisions will be made in the coming months. Add your voice by telling the government you want a stronger landscape, stronger laws and a stronger legacy for this region.

In May 2016, the Province released a set of draft changes to the plans that guide the future of the Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine, Niagara Escarpment and the growth in the GGH. (Click here for our reaction). There are many positive elements in these drafts, including a commitment to protect the region’s natural heritage and to grow the Greenbelt to encompass vulnerable water supplies. However, there are areas of concern which may undermine the vision guiding these plans.

There are many elements that could turn the clock back and allow a decades-old style of sprawl to re-emerge. As always, the ‘devil is in the details’ with these changes. We need your help to tell the government to remove risky loopholes and exemptions from the draft plans, and further enhance the policies that will protect the water, nature and communities of the region.

The livability of this landscape depends on getting these plans right. We must protect our irreplaceable natural and agricultural lands, and set firm urban boundaries using principles of Smart Growth to build our communities up, not out. In the face of climate change and a rapidly growing population, we will not have another chance to get these plans right.

Join Earthroots, EcoSpark, STORM and Ontario Nature and submit comments to the Ontario government to let them know you want these plans to protect our water, nature and communities!

Earthroots_logo Ontario_Nature_Logo_Colour_guidelinestandard EcoSpark-logo-with-tag-RGB STORM_2

Sign on letter:

To: Honourable Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs [bmauro.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org]


Attn: Honourable Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs

RE: EBR 012-7194, 012-7195, 012-7197, 012-7228,

I urge you to take bold steps to protect our water, nature and communities of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Now is the time for the Province to create a stronger landscape, stronger laws, and a stronger legacy for this region, whose lands lie within Treaty 20, the traditional territories of several First Nations.

In the face of climate change and a rapidly growing population, you must get this Coordinated Review right. There will not be another chance.

In the final Greenbelt Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, Niagara Escarpment Plan, and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, I am calling for:

Grow the Greenbelt: expand the Greenbelt quickly to protect a ‘bluebelt’ of vulnerable water supplies, including key headwater areas, groundwater recharge areas, surface water features, and urban river valleys.
Protect and support natural heritage: identify and protect a robust natural heritage system, ensuring consistency with mapping in the Greenbelt.
Protect and support agricultural viability: identify and protect an agricultural system that promotes farm viability and recognizes the synergies between natural heritage and water systems.

Strengthen the Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine and Niagara Escarpment Plans: re-instate strong protection for the habitat of species at risk, which was weakened in the proposed draft.
Restrict infrastructure and stop the dumping of contaminated soil: restrict the types of infrastructure (e.g., highways, pipelines, energy generation and transmission, sewage pipes) allowed in these protected landscapes, strengthen environmental assessments for infrastructure projects, and stop the disposal of contaminated soil.
Stop urban sprawl in its tracks: re-instate a 10-year freeze on all settlement area expansions. Do not take a step backwards by allowing urban boundary expansions to go through the Municipal Comprehensive Review process.
Re-inforce smart growth: better align transit planning (the Big Move) with the Growth Plan and prioritize active transportation wherever appropriate.

Prioritize climate action: dedicate revenues from cap-and-trade to programs that restore, enhance and protect (through securement) the region’s natural landscape.
Create livable communities: set mandatory requirements for building denser cities, align growth with existing public transit, water, road and sewer capacity, and eliminate municipal exemption for less dense communities and urban growth centres.
Set up the Greenbelt and Growth Plans for long-term success: establish a provincially-led body or process with a mandate to oversee, research, monitor and report to the public on effectiveness. An empowered oversight body must have adequate expertise and resources to assist and guide municipal partners.

We need your leadership.



Searching for Salamanders


Greenbelt hanging in the balance


  1. Joanne Avison

    Stop destroying our Ontario

  2. Francesca Davey

    Keep our greenbelt safe. No farmers equals no food. “What a great looking sub-division too bad the people are starving and have no water.”

  3. Laurie Benson

    People keep moving North to escape the “Sprawl” – if transit and amenities were better we could concentrate in cohesive communities with farmland all around…kinda like it is right now and we would like it to stay that way. Only better transit to downtown.

  4. Karen

    We must all work together to keep the Great Lakes great. For us now and for our future children and grand children. Clean waters equals a healthy future for all creature and people alike.

  5. Heather Keery

    Protecting our greenbelt is about survival. With climate change, we can expect shifting needs for water and food to exact greater pressures on Canada. Protecting our headwaters, biodiversity, water/ air/ food quality need to be priorities.

  6. Protecting our Greenbelt and extending it, is critical for a sustainable future in Ontario. We MUST do everything possible to increase our food security by growing more of our food. One of these days the US border will be closed due to some event and the food trucks will no longer deliver food to our grocery stores. It will be too late! We require visionary leadership that protects the remaining Greenbelt agricultural land, expands the Greenbelt, and supports food production initiatives now. The document, Earth Charter Cities defines the many issues that must be addressed to move towards healthy, sustainable communities.

  7. Janet Fraser

    The Greenbelt is one of our most valuable water and agricultural assets. Please take the long vision and the precautionary way of saving our natural resources,

  8. Mike Antoniades

    It is imperative that we take a long term view of the evolution of our province to ensure its beauty and viability are preserved. Things do not just happen, they need vision and thoughtful planning. Expanding the greenbelt is such action. For the sake of the future of our children and our province please act accordingly.

  9. Glenn Abuja

    In the past I have worked for the Ministry of Natural Resources in mid north and northern Ontario in both fisheries and forestry. Up their we must maintain a 50m buffer of protection for water ways, be it a creek, river or lake.
    Just recently, I discovered in southern Ontario only 20m is required as a buffer. If any thing it should the same 50m in both regions A mandatory natural area of 50m should be implemented. After all it’s these buffers that are supposed to act as filters and assist with water retention to maintain the health of the water ways i.e. the ecosystem which WE ARE PART OF.

  10. Tim King

    As I ride up Bayview north of Richmond Hill I see ” Welcome to the Greenbelt ” signs and within 100 meters I see development signs. The same is true with Leslie where I saw that a developer north of Bloomington on the west side has destroyed a pond that was home to many painted turtles and other wildlife. They put up the environmental barrier after they ruined the pond. When I speak to our government the excuse is always the previous government’s fault going all the way back to Mike Harris ! The OMB always seems to find in favor of the money { developer } and our elected official’s common solution is a minor fine that the developers laugh off as a cost of business. Please leave the moraine and greenbelt alone and stop trading off pieces for some obscure property somewhere else. When this area is gone it is truly gone and cannot be replaced with planted trees and recreational park space.

    • Hi Tim
      I have to tell you I ride my bike up Bayview Ave. from 16th to north of Major Mackenzie in Richmond Hill everyday and I’m just sickened that the city of Richmond Hill allowed that large section of forest just north of 16th to be bulldozed for that new ‘master planned community’-I emailed the mayor about this but no response-the developers won again.

  11. Ontario is a beautiful and unique province. The land, water and healthy habitat is critical to foster a sustainable future for Ontario’s community- people, fauna and flora. Destroying vital water sources and fragmenting landscapes will reach a point of no return. Our children deserve a legacy rich in ecologically sound policies that will protect farmland, wildlife corridors and all fresh water origins while honouring Treaty Rights. One chance to get this right. Ensure our future natural gifts are protected through rigorous environmental oversight and policy; supported in the strength and integrity of swift legal recourse.

  12. Lisa

    We nee to STOP Urban Spraw and practice better Smarth Growth!

    We should also be doing more for our Farmers – Why are we getting Peppers and tomato sauce from Europe and Mexico? Surely we should be able to grow enough Tomato’s in our Ontario to process them for caning. I just got Red bell peppers from Spain cheeper than one’s grown here! Spain has about the Same climate as us, with the cost of shipping etc. this is crazy!

  13. Heidi Last

    There is a beautiful quote that will be on my tombstone one day because I am passionate about our planet and the environment. This quote says, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” This is very straight forward. IF we love our children and our grand children, we will NOT destroy our planet with our negligence and abuse. PLEASE, NO more urban sprawl, we need to have Smart Growth. Protect our diverse flora and fauna, (biodiversity), our water sources (headwaters) and our precious farmland which is our food source. Also honour our Treaty Rights, increase the buffer protection for our precious waterways, stop passing the blame (OMB) of infringements on past governments and prohibit any further destruction of our moraine and greenbelts. We only have one opportunity to ‘get this right’ so let your ‘political’ legacy be one of visionary leadership that will lead our province and planet towards a sustainable and healthy future. Our future generations WILL thank us.

  14. Gary Mascola

    Henry David Thoreau lent us amazing insight over 160 years ago that ‘In wildness is the preservation of the world’ We need to take this seriously and act. It’s already too late with what we do to local wildness and to our own species in so many ways. We are disconnected mindfully. Less greenbelt equals less wildness. Less wildness impacts ours and our children’s mental health in so many ways. We are part of and not above Nature ‘nothing lives unto itself’ (Rachel Carson). Our minds are in critical mode… because we don’t know or engage bodily with the rest of Nature – that is we separate ourselves and our kids from wildness – consequently we only think of ourselves – a human monoculture is now our mental existence. Don’t just save the Greenbelt – increase the Greenbelt – protect it from ourselves and our human footprints. Reinhabit Nature. Seven generation thinking? Make a commitment NOW to leave a place for the seventh generation that has wildness so that they can connect and be mentally connected and therefore healthier than we are!

  15. Ian Huggett

    There already is a total absence of government oversight over existing regulations related to clearing forest and issuing building permits. The most common loop-hole involves applications for commercial equestrian stables which give the landowner the right to build residences in otherwise protected land. Moreover, landowners in residentially zoned sectors apply for construction permits – but then do not respect the constraints outlined in the building permits to limit chopping trees within their building lot. Government inspectors simply do not check individual home building during the construction phase.

    Finally, the irony is that the numerous Conservation Authorities which manage the vast majority of natural habitat within the Moraine engage in routine logging modeled on industrial ” forest management”, an antiquated ideology derived from post-war European farming practices. Sadly, ecosystem management doesn’t exist within the Moraine without the use of a certified tree marker, industrial tree-harvester or chainsaw. Farmers also are encouraged to log woodlots in the Moraine to get government tax rebates. So what is really protected?

    This new legislation sounds even worse than the previous one(s) since it doesn’t adequately strengthen over-sight and enforcement and provides even more allowances to developers to work the system to their favour.

  16. Everybody stop for a minute!!! Who is protecting and enforcing the legislation and policies…Conservation Halton Strategic Plan “metamorphisis” there will be no one with any power and will be chained to offices. Conservation Halton has just ended the Watershed Enforcement officer program and now the floodgates are opened. PLEASE look into this yourself, they are removing “enforcement from vehicles” and violations will skyrocket. The lands and security were renamed and wear golf shirts… PLEASE request a meeting with the Conservation Halton board and be prepared for smoke and mirrors…How do I know? check me out on LinkedIn. I am infuriated as Ray Guther seen the future need for protection and enforcement with legislation along with policy/permitting. Please notify Cathy Menyes and CEO Hassan Husein or
    Contacting the Conservation Halton Board of Directors that you want to express your concern about this act of negligence against enforcement!! You can write policy all day, but if there is not enforcement action for education or dealing with violators, then watch the violations and try to call someone..

    If you wish to contact the Conservation Halton Board of Directors, please click here to send an e-mail pvickers@hrca.on.ca , or call 905-336-1158, ext. 2236.

  17. John and Penny Richardson

    I am sickened by what our grand children and their children will not be able to enjoy because of such short sightedness.

  18. Klaus Wehrenberg

    ONTARIO PLANNING still gives highest priority to motorized transportation – cars. Walking has lowest priority. It should be the other way around, to benefit protection of green space, ground water, and agricultural lands.

    METROLINX improves links of communities via (motorized) transit but continues its walking and cycling barriers, in the form of 2 km long stretches of rail track that can not be crossed by walkers and cyclists. And that is fact in the middle of urban communities, like Aurora, which is in the Greenbelt and at least partially on the Oak Ridges Moraine. As far as walkers and cyclists are concerned Aurora is cut in half by rail track barriers, thereby discouraging a shift from cars to walking and cycling as priority commuter means of transportation.

    SCHOOL BOARDS have the privilege of determining where schools will be located, but are not required to set out off-road routes where students of the schools’ catchment areas could safely walk or cycle to school. Schools have ‘walk-to school days’. So walking to schools is possible, but why should students not walk to school all year long? – and not be transported by (motorized) buses and their parents’ cars.

    All of this is still reality despite the Ontario Government’s aim to ‘de-carbonize transportation’. Almost immediate change would be possible but the Provincial Government is not taking the required actions. They have the last word re what planning related mandates school boards have, and what mobility priorities are to be observed at Metrolinx.

    The above are two reasons why Greenbelt land is being used irresponsibly: the emphasis on motorized traffic; and the lack of commitment to walking and cycling as Ontario’s highest mandated priority in transportation planning. The dedication to motorized modes of transport allows for sprawl, instead of compact urban envelopes, which would result in more ecologically sound and healthy green space; better ground water protection; and more productive agricultural lands locally, for this and all future generations, among many other benefits.

    • Wendy Agnew

      The World Wildlife Fund had just released disturbing information that human activity is destroying our vertebrate population (approx. 60% extinction rate since 1970).
      Hundreds of environmental activists in South America have been murdered by corporate thugs in the last decade. We are living in tragic times and the voices of the sane seem to be overwhelmed by a short-sighted greed that will end in our own

  19. Sandy

    Stop the srawl! Protect our green space and expand the greenbelt! Poisioning our water with road salt and negative impact from sprawl will kill hanitat and species. Consider this wisely for the sake of future generations! Cultural heritage landscapes and heritage waterways are worth protecting and preserving. Lets not kill off wildlife. Protect the eco system. Protect our water!!!

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