While Toronto may be famous for having green life veins flowing through its heart of forested ravines, the city is surrounded by a vulnerable mass of farmlands leased by developers and the federal government, (as a reserve for the Pickering Airport) for cash cropping that is termed “the White Belt.” While some may romantically call these lands a “food belt”, in reality most is used for grains grown for industrial feed stocks including bio-fuels or to dangerously fatten livestock in their last weeks of life for unhealthy “marbling.”
At Sierra Club Ontario, our work mainly focuses on protecting the Great Lakes ecosystem, growing and protecting the Greenbelt, and promoting Green Energy adoption in Ontario. Sierra Club Ontario also works on very local issues, in coordination with smaller communities in Ontario.
The commenting period for the 2015 Coordinated Review is now closed but Sierra Club of Canada Foundation has made a submission in support of Greenbelt growth and expansion. Below is a summary of the submission.
Moratorium on Expansion of Urban Development
At this opportunity to review the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Sierra Club asks the Province to consider a 10-year moratorium on expansion of urban development boundaries, in order to direct growth into increased density and cease the paving over of our fertile agriculture lands and treasured natural areas.
Urban River Valley Designation
Sierra Club of Canada Foundation is working with Peter Rodrigues (former Pickering Regional Councillor, Ward 3) to protect the Carruthers Creek Headwaters which run through Pickering. The letter below was submitted to Richard Stromberg from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and reflects the work being done to rally support for the protection of the Carruthers Creek Headwaters.
GROW THE GREENBELT IN DURHAM -- Protect Carruthers Creek Headwaters
Come join us at Heart Lake Conservation Area in Brampton on Saturday, June 6th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m!
Learn about the Conservation Area, pollinator plants, and the Gitigaan Mashkiki Medicine Wheel Garden!
Help remove invasive plant species and plant native wildflowers. Activities also include a guided nature walk and Aboriginal teachings.
For more information or to RSVP please contact our staff at firstname.lastname@example.org
This past weekend we had a great time planting trees and shrubs in an area of Erindale Park in Mississauga as a part of our Natural Capital Program. Following a quick planting demonstration by Credit Valley Conservation, around 50 enthusiastic participants worked for over three hours (in glorious sunny weather) to get 250 plants in the ground.
Unusual for the participants in the Ontario government’s 2015 Co-Ordinated Review of the Growth Plan, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan is the perspective of the Mohawk environmentalist, Danny Beaton. (Turtle Clan, Six Nations).
At the Caledon session on March 26th, Beaton took part in a panel with the Sierra Club representative Dan McDermott, Robin Garret, of the Greenbelt Foundation and myself. Here he stressed that all the prime agricultural land in Ontario should be protected from development. This would require a dramatic expansion of the Greenbelt.
In St. Catharines a meeting was held for the provincial plan review for the Ontario Greenbelt on April 15th, and was attended by about 350 people. This large attendance was quite important, since the meeting attracted around 80 opponents of the Greenbelt. They were led by landowner leader, Austin Kirby, who asked those who shared her perspective to indicate by applause. Her signed briefing note left at one of the tables recommended that they should “gather round one table to gain more attention.”
One of the key weaknesses in the reformed land use planning system in Ontario that was developed around 2005 and is now subject to review through public meetings is the planning black hole known as the “White Belt.” This is an area between the Greenbelt and the edge of the urban area boundaries in Hamilton, Halton Region, Peel, York and Durham Region. On these lands urban boundary expansions can take place through every five years, instead of the ten plus protected through the Greenbelt.
The only Regional government around the Greenbelt not to have a White Belt is Niagara. This situation has arisen since one of the chief objectives for the Greenbelt here is to protect Niagara’s unique tree fruit growing lands.
Since its creation in 1992 the Waterfront Trail strives to connect urban and rural areas, and reconnect people to their communities and Great Lakes Waterfront. The Waterfront Trail serves as the linkage between over 405 parks and natural areas including wetlands, forests and beaches and stretches across 1400 km of shoreline from the eastern border of Ontario to the northwest (2). Over the years the trail has become a local favorite for leisure and recreation and is a place where people can go to reconnect with nature.
Locally, Toronto and Durham Region have made (and continue to make) a number of improvements for enhanced accessibility along their portions of the Waterfront Trail. A lot of work has gone into creating and enhancing trail segments, and now many neighboring communities are working collaboratively to link their sections for increased functionality.
On Wednesday, May 27th the City of Mississauga will be hosting an Open House in the Living Arts Centre. The night will showcase what Mississauga has planned to expand the Urban Greenbelt down the Credit River to the lake. Sierra Club has been following this project closely for many months and encourages its promotion.
- Hope to see you there!
Official Submission to the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR):
Sierra Club Ontario Chapter and the SCCF Great Lakes Committee support the GL Protection Act [GLPA] because the proposed legislation creates significant new legal and policy tools to protect Ontario’s portion of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. This Act is timely because the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem shows signs of deterioration with particular reference to persistent chemicals, habitat and wetland loss and increasing nutrient load. The proposed Great Lakes Protection Act represents a positive step, but like all enabling legislation it requires adequate funding support and thorough, transparent evaluation of its effectiveness through regular review.
Our bioswale project was created in response to water quality issues affecting residents and visitors to the Ajax waterfront. In recent years, as a result of contaminated run-off, the Town of Ajax and its residents have had limited access to swimmable water and beaches and the bioswales are a perfect solution!
The structure of these bioswales resembles a rain garden and is designed to control storm water, reducing the amount overflowing onto the beaches. The bioswale mimics wetland processes by providing a planted area of trees and shrubs which will absorb and filter storm water as it is slowed by the soil and root systems of the plants—for free! This is a great way to enhance the waterfront and naturally filter contaminants like automotive run-off and road salts, while restoring the environment.
This article posted in Niagara At Large was written by John Bacher, who works with Greenbelt Program team at Sierra Club of Canada Foundation. The article depicts the darker side of urban sprawl and pollution on watershed quality, and how stopping urban sprawl is an imperative step in protecting our waters. Read the article here.
The provincial government is hosting a series of public consultations for the review of the province’s land use plans. So if you love the Greenbelt and want to protect our waters, now is the time to attend a Town Hall near your to voice your opinions.
For more information on the review process please visit the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website.
Join us at Paradise Park in Ajax on May 2nd for a spring garbage clean-up (See map for details)! This is a great opportunity to enhance your community and waterways, care for the environment and see some of the great restoration work being done at Paradise Beach.
High-school students earn volunteer hours- must bring your own form!!
***To participate, please register here***
Below is a cheery update following the Caledon Review meeting last Thursday night on March 26th.
"Hello Sierra friends and supporters,
The Greenbelt Review event on Thursday night, March 26th, in Caledon was crowded, maybe 300 there, with many provincial representatives, councillors, and also members of the Advisory Panel that will process the information from all 16 town Halls across the Golden Horseshoe.
We sat at tables of 10, debating 6 topics - protecting land - creating jobs - liveable communities - climate change - moving people - and realigning the plans. Debates were lively and interesting, and support for strengthening and realigning Greenbelt legislation was overwhelming.
On March 23, 2015 the Vice-Chair of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), Susan de Aveller Schiller issued a historic ruling. By her denial of Amendment 106 of the Niagara Falls Official Plan, it rescued what the Sierra Club of Ontario has termed “the Green Life Line”. This is a narrow green corridor between the northern and southern parts of the eastern edge of the Niagara Escarpment.
There is only a thin green lifeline of farmland and forests between the Welland Canal and the Niagara River south of the Niagara Escarpment. This lifeline is only 1.7 kilometres in width. It stretches from the forested buffer of a landfill/quarry and the Queen Elizabeth Expressway. According to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), Natural Heritage Guidelines, this is the bare minimum for a wildlife corridor, using the findings of the respected ecologist Reid Noss.
Written in Niagara at Large, this piece by John Bacher highlights the detrimental effects of urban sprawl on wildlife and ecosystems in Niagara, such as habitat fragmentation and genetic uniformity. The article also serves as a platform to urge Ontario residents, specifically around Lake Ontario and the Golden Horseshoe, to engage in the 2015 Greenbelt Review and help prevent forms of urbanization which are fatal to wildlife. Read article here.
Come to the Town Hall nearest you. Bring your friends. Air your views. Your voice is important!
Written in Niagara At Large, Sierra Club’s John Bacher talks about how outdated planning studies are guiding development in Niagara Region and the significance of updating these plans to ensure protection of important wildlife and biodiversity in these areas. Read the article here.