McGuinty Government Outlines Criteria To Expand Greenbelt Boundaries
TORONTO, Feb. 21 /CNW/ - The Ontario government wants to hear Ontarians'
ideas on how to consider requests to expand the Greenbelt's boundaries and
further protect countryside areas.
"As the Greenbelt nears its third anniversary, Ontarians and
municipalities have seen how it benefits their communities. We want to help
municipalities strike the right balance between protecting greenspaces and
meeting the needs of their growing communities," said Jim Watson, Minister of
Municipal Affairs and Housing.
The government has developed draft criteria that, once finalized, would
be used to consider requests from regional, county and single-tier governments
to expand the Greenbelt's boundaries. Requests to reduce the size of the
Greenbelt or remove areas from it would not be considered.
The draft criteria are available for review and comment on the ministry's
website at www.greenbelt.ontario.ca. Comments must be received by April 30,
2008. They are also posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry which
can be accessed at www.ebr.gov.on.ca.
"Growing the Greenbelt, which is already the size of Prince Edward
Island, means more green space to help reduce the impact of global warming
facing our province," said John Gerretsen, Environment Minister. "This is good
for everyone in Ontario not just those in the Greater Golden Horseshoe."
The Greenbelt Council recommended last year that the government develop
criteria to consider Greenbelt expansion requests.
"Today's announcement is evidence that the government is taking our
advice seriously. This is the beginning of the process to expand the
Greenbelt," said Dr. Robert Elgie, Chair of the Greenbelt Council.
"This important announcement will strengthen the Greenbelt's ability to
protect the things Ontarians love. We congratulate the McGuinty government for
its continuing leadership in safeguarding Ontario's precious greenspace and
look forward to getting to work with the Province and municipalities to expand
the Greenbelt," said Dr. Rick Smith of Environmental Defence.
The Greenbelt, which was created in February 2005, permanently protects
more than 1.8 million acres of agricultural and environmentally sensitive land
around the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The Greenbelt is part of the McGuinty
government's commitment to environmental protection. It is also a key
component of the province's reform of the planning system, which includes
changes to the Provincial Policy Statement and the creation of the Growth Plan
for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Most recently, reforms to the Planning Act
that came into force on January 1, 2007, complement the Greenbelt by providing
additional municipal tools that encourage sustainable development.
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ONTARIANS INVITED TO COMMENT ON GROWING THE GREENBELT
The government has released draft criteria that it may use to consider
requests from regional, county and single-tier municipalities to grow the
Greenbelt. This is an opportunity to make the Greenbelt bigger by further
protecting countryside areas beyond the existing Greenbelt. Requests to reduce
the size of the Greenbelt or remove areas from it would not be considered.
The criteria are available online at www.greenbelt.ontario.ca.
Created in February 2005, the Greenbelt is 1.8 million acres of land
stretching from the Niagara Peninsula in the southwest to Rice Lake in the
east, including the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine. The
Greenbelt permanently protects environmentally sensitive and agricultural
lands from development.
The Greenbelt permanently protects some of Ontario's most valuable green
spaces, farmland, forests, wetlands and watersheds.
It is an important element of the government's plan to tackle gridlock,
contain sprawl and preserve greenspace.
Protecting greenspace and ensuring our communities "Grow Green," is an
important part of our aggressive and integrated approach to tackling climate
change in Ontario. By curbing urban sprawl and offering local foods, the
Greenbelt helps reduce greenhouse gases and other harmful emissions.
Building the Greenbelt
The process of building the Greenbelt in 2004-2005 involved extensive
consultation and collaboration between the Province and its partners. The
Greenbelt Task Force, an advisory group that conducted public meetings, led
the process. Its recommendations to the minister of Municipal Affairs and
Housing in August 2004 were the foundation of the Greenbelt Plan.
The Greenbelt Area was determined, in part, by identifying a natural
heritage system and defining an agricultural system. A systems approach
considers that the health of plants, animals - including people - and natural
features are related and connected to each other and to our own well-being.
Together, these components form the Greenbelt's protected countryside.
The provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe was developed
at the same time as the Greenbelt Plan to ensure that the needs of growing
communities were met. The Growth Plan provides direction on where and how to
grow and protect what is valuable to a community.
The Greenbelt Act
The Greenbelt Act, 2005 calls for a ten year review of the Greenbelt Plan
to assess its effectiveness and make changes, as necessary. This consultation
process on draft criteria does not impact the ten year review planned for
Ontarians are invited to review the draft criteria and send their
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
14th Floor, 777 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5
Comments must be received by April 30, 2008.
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For further information:
For further information: Adam Grachnik, Minister Watson's Office, (416)
585-6492; Audrey Bennett, Provincial Planning Policy Branch, (416) 585-6072