Statement from Ontario Greenbelt Alliance Steering Committee regarding the Provincial Announcement to Remove Lands from the Greenbelt

Monday, November 7, 2022: Late Friday afternoon, November 4th, the Ontario Government announced its intention to remove 7,400 acres of precious farmland and natural areas from Greenbelt protection as a purported “solution” to the housing crisis and to add new land to the Greenbelt to make up for the loss.

The housing crisis requires immediate action. That’s why Premier Ford’s government should make it easier to build housing on the 88,000 acres across the GTHA that are already designated and ready for development in communities close to existing transit and services.

Protecting environmentally important land should also be a priority. That’s why it makes no sense for Premier Ford’s government to remove 7,400 acres of farmland and greenspace from Greenbelt protection when over 10 times as much land is ready for development of mixed housing in communities where people already live.

If the Provincial Government proceeds with this unnecessary and unacceptable proposal, the consequences will be severe: 

  • the destruction of 7,400 acres of Greenbelt farmland and natural areas and the vital ecological benefits they provide; 
  • harming climate resilience by undermining the ecological integrity of the watersheds and natural systems that are in and around the Greenbelt; 
  • setting a destructive precedent that Greenbelt protected lands will be sacrificed when land speculators want to develop them therefore creating an ecologically damaged “swiss cheese” Greenbelt;
  • allowing land speculators to put pressure on farmers within the Greenbelt to sell their valuable farmland thereby reducing vital local food production;  
  • the diversion of limited construction resources away from building homes where they are needed to building expensive and damaging sprawl homes on what was once Greenbelt protected land;
  • building homes that will likely not be affordable therefore doing nothing for those who need affordable housing now.

In short, this proposal means Premier Ford is prepared to break his promise to never remove land from the Greenbelt to use for development. It will undermine the Greenbelt and do nothing to build affordable homes for people who need it the most in communities near existing transit, services and jobs. Instead, it will lead to large profits for land speculators and developers who want access to Greenbelt protected land to build expensive homes in sprawl development. 

Accordingly, we urge the Premier to reconsider his actions and:

  • withdraw the plan to remove lands from the Greenbelt;
  • get on with a meaningful Greenbelt expansion that reflects public input - repeatedly promised but never delivered by the Ford government; 
  • follow the advice of the government’s own Ontario Affordable Housing Task Force and focus efforts on developing affordable housing on lands that have already been designated for development and have the necessary infrastructure in place. As the Housing Task Force noted, there is plenty of land within urban areas ready for development.

Finally, we can protect and preserve the Greenbelt and move quickly to solve the housing crisis. There are lots of municipalities in Ontario that have shown us how to do this. But for this to happen Premier Ford has to put the interests of Ontarians ahead of the interests of land speculators and developers who are sacrificing the public good to make a buck.


Ontario Greenbelt Alliance Steering Committee:

Anne Bell, Ontario Nature

Debbie Gordon, Save the Maskinonge

Kevin Thomason, Grand River Environment Network

Lynda Lukasik, Environment Hamilton

Margaret Prophet, Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition

Tim Gray, Environmental Defence