With $680,000 in grants to fund projects aimed at protecting farmland and green space - Ontario's Greenbelt is "growing" on the people of Niagara



    QUEENSTON HEIGHTS, ON, June 19 /CNW/ - At a press conference this morning
announcing seven major Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation grants to Niagara
area organizations, Niagara Economic Development Corporation CEO Patrick Gedge
said, "As is evident today, we in Niagara are benefiting from many new and
innovative investments that positively leverage the creation of Ontario's
Greenbelt."
    "With the passing of the Greenbelt legislation just over two years ago,"
Gedge explained, "we did not have a clear understanding how to best go about
protecting our valuable farmlands and natural spaces from urban sprawl, while
at the same time generating new wealth and job opportunities. The projects
announced today, with funding support from grants by the Friends of the
Greenbelt Foundation, are an excellent start to initiating new opportunities.
They demonstrate the ingenuity of individuals and organizations from all
across Niagara."
    The Greenbelt extends from Rice Lake in Northumberland County, west to
the Niagara River, and north to Lake Simcoe and Tobermory. It protects over
97,000 hectares of prime agricultural lands - including about 40,000 hectares
of the Niagara Peninsula Tender Fruit and Grape Area, which would have been
consumed by urban development if previous development patterns had continued.
    "Because of the Greenbelt," said Niagara area food and wine writer Lynn
Ogryzlo, "I am happy to say our future will look more like the past - we're
coming full circle. The area has changed so much in just my lifetime - from a
region centred on peaches, to abandoned peach orchards. We were at great risk
of losing our most valuable resource, the purest of produce with the greatest
intensity of flavours. I see a much brighter future with the Niagara Greenbelt
than without it."
    With polls showing over 89% of public support for the Greenbelt's goal of
protecting area lands by curbing urban sprawl, the Friends of the Greenbelt
Foundation has to-date announced the awarding of over $5.7 million in grants
to not-for-profit organizations working in support of farming, the environment
and rural communities located in the Ontario Greenbelt.
    "Helping people and organizations translate their passion for the land
into action is a primary goal of our grants," said Burkhard Mausberg,
President of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. "Of the Foundation's
grant making to-date, more than 30%, or $1.86 million, has now been directed
to organizations with programs aimed at preserving and enhancing the Niagara
area Greenbelt."
    "The Foundation," he concluded, "is proud to fund these organizations
whose dedicated efforts improve the livelihoods of area farmers, promote
healthy local food choices, and protect the region's green space for
generations to come."

    Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation grants announced today went to:

    Niagara College - $25,000 for their Greenbelt Youth Leaders collaboration
with Durham's Fleming College, a student-led initiative to foster young people
to take action, build awareness, and work with companies and not-for-profit
organizations to test environmental solutions to problems;

    Brock University/Tourism Niagara - $219,000 for specifically designed
Niagara Greenbelt Routes and Discovery Centres, to give tourists access to the
Greenbelt experience through special interactive exhibits at four existing
Tourism Centres. In-kind project partners include the City of St. Catharines,
Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce, and Twenty Valley Tourism
Association;

    Niagara Peninsula Community Resource Centre - $200,000 for Growing the
Niagara Culinary Trail, a project to develop and promote culinary tourism and
encourage mutual support between the culinary community and local growers;

    Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce - $40,000 for the 2007 Niagara
Peach Celebration Day, to encourage pride in the community and its
agricultural roots, and promote Niagara peaches. Includes distributing
thousands of freshly-picked peaches to commuters at Toronto's Union Station on
Wednesday morning, August 8th;

    Wine Council of Ontario - $49,500 for their Sustainable Winemaking in
Ontario: An Environmental Charter for the Wine Industry, a project to help
local wineries adopt best practices for water usage, waste management,
wastewater treatments, nutrient management, noise levels, and air emissions;

    Grape Growers of Ontario - $50,000 for a Wine Grape Replant Program to
help ease Niagara juice grape growers' transition to growing new products,
including high quality wine grape varieties that would elevate Niagara's
reputation as a world renown wine region; and,

    Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association - $98,000 for a
first-of-its-kind study on the Viability of the Fruit and Vegetable Industry
in the Greenbelt that looks at improving the sector's economic success in the
Greenbelt through an in-depth picture of the fruit and vegetable industry
within this near urban-agricultural area.

    The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation began its work in June 2005 as a
charitable foundation with a mandate to fund organizations in support of
farming, the environment and rural communities located in Ontario's Greenbelt.





For further information:

For further information: please visit www.OurGreenbelt.ca, and contact:
Donald Wiedman, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, tel: (416) 960-0001,
cell: (416) 559-3934, email: dwiedman@ourgreenbelt.ca

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Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation

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