We are rapidly nearing the finish line for our shared task of growing Ontario’s Greenbelt! So many environmental groups and individuals have given their suggestions and support over the years since the legislation opened for revision in 2015, so many government consultations have been held, so many submissions, petitions and revisions have circulated. Indeed, so many of us have raised our voices that our message has resounded -- it is vital that we protect and grow our Greenbelt, our precious water sources, and the environmental health of Southern Ontario. It has indeed been a marathon effort. Now, one last step and this race has been well run!
A quick review of our December 12 write-up and map reminds us that the provincial government has been considering growing the Greenbelt by up to one third. The focus is largely on parts of the Outer Ring that surrounds the existing belt and on the adjoining key water resource areas that feed into it. A more detailed map has just been completed. See Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: Map showing proposed bluebelt additions to the Greenbelt
Open House for Public Consultations
One final rapid round of Open Houses has been set up for the period between January 31 and February 22 for final public and stakeholder input about these additions before decisions are locked in. See the list below, taken from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) website, for the last opportunity to add your voice in person. Your attendance would be particularly valuable if you live in or near one of the key areas and have questions or comments about local additions or omissions.
Call-to-Action: What you can do
As on previous rounds of consultation the provincial government is also pleased to get your comments and recommendations in writing. Please check their website for full information plus a list of 4 ways to contact them.
For further action you may also check Friends of the Greenbelt’s website for lawn signs, a petition to sign and more.
Various groups including Sierra Club are submitting final comment papers or endorsing other’s papers before the March 7 deadline. If you wish to add your name to one or more of these rather than commenting individually, please watch the websites.
One more important issue – Sierra Club Ontario is celebratory about the 21 urban river valleys and wetlands that have already been added to the Greenbelt in the Inner Ring around Lake Ontario. However the current expansion plan does not consider other additions to the inner side of the Greenbelt from some of the land areas that remain vulnerable to uncontrolled development within this ring. Evaluating and protecting some or all of these as yet undeveloped areas would help greatly to preserve the integrity of the land and water below the Greenbelt. When submitting your comments please consider drawing attention to this omission.
Perhaps our next endeavour will focus on Inner Ring issues. If you have other suggestions please send them to us at: ontariochapter [at] sierraclub.ca.
This article was written by Thaia Jones, Greenbelt Campaign Chair at Sierra Club Ontario.
Blog image of Minesing Wetlands in Simcoe County obtained from The Couchiching Conservancy website.