Waterloo’s wise decision to fight the OMB’s sprawl-inducing ruling

Toronto, ON -- The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance (OGA) strongly supports the Region of Waterloo’s appeal of the recent Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) ruling that considerably weakens the Region’s smart growth official plan and threatens the Places to Grow Act.

The OMB ruling forces the Region to open up 1,053 hectares of prime farmland for low-density sprawl development. This is more than 10 times the land the Region says it needs for this purpose. Yesterday, the Region passed a unanimous motion to appeal its case to Divisional Court and asked the OMB to rehear the case.

“It’s appalling that the OMB has sided with sprawl developers and punished the Region for doing the right thing in attempting to create more livable communities and discouraging sprawl,” said Kevin Thomason of Waterloo’s Sunfish Neighbourhood Association and the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. “The OMB has thrown aside the Places to Grow Act’s objectives, overruled elected council decision-making, and rendered provincial intensification targets meaningless, while promoting old-fashioned sprawl that would destroy thousands of acres of our local farms and natural areas – all in the name of developers’ profits.” 

“There is a better way forward for Waterloo. Progressive smart growth alternatives would revitalize our core areas, make better use of existing infrastructure and prevent the destruction of some of the most productive and highest yielding farmland in Canada,” Thomason added.

“The OMB’s decision undermines the Region’s authority to determine its future growth patterns and development. If left unchallenged, the decision could set a precedent and send the dangerous message that intensification targets in the Places to Grow Act do not need to be achieved by 2031,” said David Donnelly, lawyer for the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. “This is of concern to all Ontario municipalities and residents who expect their local governments to be able to decide growth targets in ways that make sense for their respective communities.”

For more than two years, the OMB appeals of Waterloo’s official plan have been the most significant attack to date by developers on the Places to Grow Act. The Act is the heart of Ontario’s plan to curb gridlock, reduce air and water pollution, prevent further urban sprawl and protect prime farmland.  

The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance: (http://www.greenbeltalliance.ca) The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is a diverse multi-stakeholder coalition of close to 100 organizations who share a common vision for protecting and expanding the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. Environmental Defence is the coordinator of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance.

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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Naomi Carniol, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 258; (416) 570-2878 (cell) ncarniol@environmentaldefence.ca