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The Government of Ontario’s Promise to Grow the Greenbelt

February 24, 2021

Don River © David Coulson

Ontario Nature welcomes the Government of Ontario’s announcement on February 17, 2021 that it will grow the Greenbelt to protect more farmland, forests, wetlands and water systems in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Greenbelt expansion offers countless benefits such as safeguarding drinking water, securing local food sources, enhancing climate resilience, conserving biodiversity and building economic prosperity. For this reason, we need to think big when it comes to growing the Greenbelt – beyond the Paris-Galt Moraine and urban river valleys (Don River, Duffins Creek) which are the focus of the government’s current proposal.

Ontario Nature is among approximately 90 organizations endorsing a report on Greenbelt expansion that sets out recommended immediate actions as well as principles to guide the longer-term process. Expansion criteria should be science-based and should build on the results of the 2017 public consultations on Greenbelt expansion. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, given the information and data already available.

The government should meaningfully consult with Indigenous communities about expanding the Greenbelt within their traditional territories. Indigenous traditional practices, responsibilities and knowledge systems must be honoured by ensuring Indigenous voices are key to discussions and decisions.

The groups are also calling on the government to cancel plans for both the GTA West (Highway 413) and Bradford Bypass (Holland Marsh Highway). These highways would cut through the Greenbelt and adjacent lands, negatively impacting farmland, forests and dozens of wetlands and other aquatic habitats, including the provincially significant Holland Marsh. They will also accelerate urban sprawl.

For further information or to arrange an interview, contact John Hassell at johnh@ontarionature.org or 416-786-2171.