Story: Saving the Greenbelt from Sprawl

The Problem 

  • In 2019 the Province launched a new planning process requiring municipalities to update their Official Plans to allow for more growth.
  • Developers are pushing for access to farmland and natural areas not designated for urban growth to build sprawl. They've been successful in convincing many local governments and the Province to build sprawl.
  • Not enough residents are telling their local Councillors to stop allowing sprawl and build sustainable communities. 

What's at Stake?

  • The loss of farmland that we rely on for local, fresh food and that our farming community requires to make a living
  • The loss of natural areas and wetlands that will become increasingly important to get us through the climate crisis
  • Habitat for pollinators and other wild animals
  • The viability of the Greenbelt which provides us with over $2.6 billion every year in free ecological services

What is Sprawl?

  • A 1950s recipe for building cities that bulldozes large amounts of farmland and natural areas, often on the edge of towns and cities but also far removed from existing towns and cities.
  • Homes are isolated and far away from where people work and shop.  
  • People are forced to own cars and drive to get around, therefore increasing their costs

The Costs of Sprawl

  • Property taxes are higher to pay for expensive infrastructure (eg. roads, bridges, sewers).
  • Energy bills and fuel costs are much higher.
  • More fossil fuel energy is used making the climate crisis worse.  
  • Precious farmland is lost forever and therefore access to fresh, healthy local food.
  • We lose wetlands and natural spaces and the free clean air and water they create.

Sprawl Harms the Greenbelt

  • Farmland, wetlands, forests, and natural areas in and around the Greenbelt are destroyed to make way for sprawl.
  • This weakens the entire Greenbelt system that protects us from flooding, cleans our water, stores carbon and grows our food. 
  • It’s a death by a thousand cuts that needs to be stopped before the system is so eroded and damaged that there’s no fixing it.  

The Solution: Sustainable Communities

They are a greener and more climate resilient communities that:

  • Avoid urban expansion by using under-utilized spaces within existing towns and cities 
  • Provide a healthy mix of affordable housing types (bachelors to 4+ bedrooms; townhouses to 6-storey walk-ups) to suit different stages of life and incomes.  
  • Build homes close to where you live, work and play, making it easy to move around by walking, cycling and transit.
  • Keep property taxes in line by better using under-utilized services such as health centres, sewers, transit, community centres, schools and main streets. 

Help the Greenbelt Today: Get Sustainable Communities Built!

Contact your local Councillor today and let them know you do NOT support more sprawl. Instead, demand Greenbelt-friendly, sustainable communities that are walkable, transit-focused communities with a variety of affordable housing options for different incomes and stages of life.

To learn more about sprawl, sustainable communities and the Greenbelt visit our Resources section.