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!

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Sign on letter:

To: Honourable Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs []


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.