2015 Greenbelt Review

Greenbelt Review IN THE NEWS:

Ontario Farmers Shift Postion on Greenbelt: Porter Toronto Star… Ontario Federation of Agriculture VP says “I’m here to make agriculture as strong as it’s ever been, to preserve as much land as I can. You can only grow one crop of houses.”


In 2015, primarily from March to June, the Provincial Government is engaging the public in a coordinated review of its four key land use planning policies.

Greenbelt Handout Back

The Review will include the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, the Niagara Escarpment Plan, and the Greenbelt Plan, and will focus on how the plans can better achieve the following six goals:

  1. Protecting agricultural land, water and natural areas
  2. Keeping people and goods moving, and building a cost-effective infrastructure
  3. Fostering healthy, liveable and inclusive communities
  4. Building communities that attract workers and create jobs
  5. Addressing climate change and building resilient communities, and
  6. Improving implementation and better aligning the plans

The following is an excerpt from “Our Region, Our Community, Our Home, A Discussion Document for the 2015 Co-ordinated Review”:

The region’s Greenbelt contains almost two million acres (800,000 hectares) of protected land. It is the largest and most strongly protected greenbelt in the world. It includes the Niagara Escarpment, the Oak Ridges Moraine and the land known as ‘Protected Countryside’ that lies at the centre of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The Greenbelt contains important natural and agricultural areas, and supports a wide range of recreational and cultural opportunities. Protecting these agricultural lands and natural areas supports the quality of life and health of the region’s communities.

The Niagara Escarpment Plan and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan were established to protect the ecological and hydrological integrity of these two important geologic features in perpetuity. The Greenbelt Plan builds on the protection provided by these two plans, striving to secure the ecological, social and economic value of the broader rural area. All three plans protect natural features and agricultural lands from urban development. As outlined below, each plan takes a slightly different approach, reflecting their differing policy objectives.

3.3.1 The Greenbelt Plan

The Greenbelt Plan establishes the Protected Countryside, which supports agriculture as the predominant land use and seeks to prevent the loss and fragmentation of agricultural land. It also:

  • gives long-term protection to the natural heritage and water resource systems that sustain ecological and human health
  • provides for a range of complementary economic and social activities including tourism, recreation and resource uses.

Within the Protected Countryside, the Greenbelt Plan identifies and protects an agricultural system composed of prime agricultural areas, rural areas, and two unique specialty crop areas (the Niagara Peninsula Tender Fruit and Grape Area, and the Holland Marsh). It identifies and protects natural areas and water resource systems that extend from the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine. It also includes policies for towns, villages and hamlets within the Greenbelt, although most growth in these settlement areas is guided by the Provincial Policy Statement, municipal official plans and applicable Growth Plan policies.

For more information on the Greenbelt Plan, please visit ontario.ca/bzkx.

The Greenbelt review offers a unique opportunity to address many of the social and environmental threats that continue to effect Ontario’s important rural, agricultural and natural areas, including its precious food and water resources.  Only 64 percent of upper and single tier municipalities have official plans where Greenbelt policies are in effect or substantially in effect, and 59 percent of lower-tier municipalities have adopted official plans to be in conformity with the Greenbelt Plan.  This means that Greenbelt protections are not being enforced uniformly throughout the province, meaning that sprawl and leapfrog development continue to destroy precious class 1-3 farmland.  Further, gaps in the policy fail to address the major threats of inappropriate infrastructure development and social/environmental threats like highways, pipelines, quarries, airports and fill dumps.

For more information on these threats, please visit greenbeltunderthreat.ca.

How can I participate in the Greenbelt Review?

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