Expand the Greenbelt and freeze urban boundaries to protect Ontario’s fresh water supplies and farmland say over 35,000 Ontarians

Toronto, ON – Today, more than 70 members of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance (OGA) and the Municipal Leaders for the Greenbelt (MLGB) from across the Greater Golden Horseshoe came to Queen’s Park to deliver a strong message from over 35,000 Ontarians – grow our Greenbelt and freeze urban boundaries now to protect valuable water sources and the province’s best agricultural land.

OGA representatives delivered the over 35,000 letters to Minister of Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro and met with MPPs from all parties to urge the province to:

  • Grow the Greenbelt to protect vulnerable water supplies and natural areas
  • Support a thriving rural economy, including the $11 billion agriculture and food sector that provides 110,000 jobs for Ontario
  • Stop sprawling our cities outwards by freezing urban boundaries and instead create liveable, walkable communities with a greater range of housing options in already built-up areas

The Greenbelt remains the most popular environmental initiative in Ontario’s history, with 90 per cent of residents in support of keeping it permanently protected. A new poll by Environics and released by Environmental Defence and the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation this week also found that eight in ten Greater Golden Horseshoe residents support the Growth Plan, citing the protection of farmland and natural areas as the most important reason for their support.

“The clear message from Ontarians to their government is that we need a stronger, bigger Greenbelt to protect clean water and agriculture,” said Erin Shapero, Greenbelt and Smart Growth Senior Program Manager at Environmental Defence and co-ordinator of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. “The 35,000 letters we delivered today speak volumes about the passion residents feel for permanently protecting our land and waters for future generations.”

“Growing the Greenbelt and implementing the Growth Plan will direct new growth to existing urban areas, make new transit feasible and help create sustainable communities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe,” said Mayor Steve Parish of Ajax, co-chair of the Municipal Leaders for the Greenbelt. “Right now, critical features such as the headwaters of some of the GTA’s most important streams and rivers are at serious risk of being needlessly paved over. Communities are looking for provincial leadership to take action to protect these areas, and stand firm against unnecessary sprawl that costs more and weakens our towns and cities,” he added.

“Protecting water was the driving force behind the creation of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan in 2002. Now, the government has a unique opportunity to expand the Greenbelt and permanently protect the drinking water sources for more than 1 million Ontarians,” said Caroline Schultz, Ontario Nature Executive Director.

The OGA urges the province to act on the broad public support for growing the Greenbelt and protecting farmland as it considers public feedback on the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review of the Greenbelt and Growth Plans. A government announcement of the final amendments to the Plans is expected in the new year.

About the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance (greenbeltalliance.ca): The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is a defender of Ontario’s innovative Greenbelt. The Alliance brings together more than 120 environmental and public health organizations, community groups, ratepayer groups and local environmental organizations to ensure the continued protection and expansion of the Greenbelt. The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance believes that a strong economy and a beautiful well-protected Greenbelt go hand in hand.

About Municipal Leaders for the Greenbelt: Municipal Leaders for the Greenbelt (MLGB) is a network of 70 elected councillors and mayors who support the Greenbelt as a permanent feature of Ontario’s landscape. They are committed to maintaining the boundaries of the Greenbelt, encouraging the development of Natural Heritage Systems in Greenbelt adjacent communities, and ensuring that planning decisions adhere to the Greenbelt Plan.

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For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, 416-356-2587 (cell); 416-323-9521 ext. 247abraude@environmentaldefence.ca

Gwen Mackay, Executive Assistant to Deputy Mayor Glenn De Bearemaeker, City of Toronto, Co-Founder, and Co-Chair, Municipal Leaders for the Greenbelt, 647-208-3391 (cell)