On Tuesday, I headed to Mississauga’s Credit River for the government’s announcement on their proposed amendments to the plans that protect the Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine, and Niagara Escarpment, and guide growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH).
These amendments are a promising move towards building ecological resiliency and healthy communities in an area under tremendous pressure from urban development. Bold leadership is now needed from the Province to quickly and decisively act on these good intentions to protect water, nature and communities in the GGH.
“We commend the Province for taking immediate steps towards growing our Greenbelt into 21 urban river valleys, their coastal wetlands and select water sources like Lake Gibson,” says Joyce Chau, Executive Director of EcoSpark. “To truly protect the region’s water, we are expecting swift action to ensure a bluebelt of vulnerable water supplies in the GGH, like the Oro Moraine, just north of Barrie, are added to the Greenbelt.”
Earthroots, EcoSpark, STORM and Ontario Nature have been leading voices for bluebelt and natural areas protection in the GGH. We are calling for stronger protection of the region’s natural areas that support wildlife and buffer communities from the impacts of climate change.
“We’re pleased that the Province has stepped up to the plate to protect and map the region’s natural heritage system,” says Caroline Schultz, Executive Director of Ontario Nature. “This is our insurance policy to enhance community resilience to the impacts of climate change.”
The government must contain urban sprawl and direct infrastructure to existing built-up areas to protect natural areas and headwaters.
“Our worry is that the needs of rural communities are getting lost in the mix.” says Debbe Crandall, Director, Policy, for Save the Oak Ridges Moraine (STORM) Coalition. “We need a comprehensive re-think on how to spark innovation to achieve ecological and social system health while keeping the rural countryside viable.”
Today’s announcement marks the final chance for public input into the Coordinated Land Use Planning Review. It is a tremendous opportunity for the Province to take bold action in the face of increasing pressure from urbanization.
“The Province’s draft amendments move us in the right direction,” says Josh Garfinkel Director, Southern Ontario Campaigns, for Earthroots. “We will be pushing them for strong implementation of these plans.”
Climate change and a rapidly growing population necessitate strong leadership from the Province. We must protect water and nature, and build sustainable communities, or more ground will be lost.
Joshua Wise was Ontario Nature’s Greenway Program Manager.