MISSISSAUGA WELCOMES THE URBAN RIVER GREENBELT AT LAST! IS THIS THE START OF A TREND?
Today December 9, City of Mississauga Council voted unanimously to approve city staff’s Urban River Valley Greenbelt Report and forward it to Peel Region for approval and application to Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH). Years in the making, Mississauga has taken the big step to join the Ontario Greenbelt.
In 2003 Mississauga resident Peter Orphanos collaborated with Dan McDermott, Ontario Chapter Director of Sierra Club of Canada Foundation to start the Sierra Peel Region Group. The key purpose of which was the protection of the beautiful Credit River, flowing through its river valleys and flood plains from the Ontario Greenbelt through the length of the Region and into Lake Ontario. Peter campaigned tirelessly for the health of his river. A big part of this was his 2010 success in gaining Mississauga Council’s commitment to start the process for applying for Urban River Valley (URV) Greenbelt protection for the publicly owned lands along the Credit. At the time of Peter’s death in 2012, his dream was unrealized.
In 2013 Sierra Peel took up Peter’s challenge and began raising awareness of the advantages of placing the Credit Valley in the Greenbelt. Sierra Peel members spoke at public events met with community leaders and deputed to Mississauga Council committees. That same year, Ontario’s URV application criteria were revised to assist communities such as Mississauga. The City’s Environmental Advisory Committee listened and urged Council to authorize City staff to study the issue and report back.
The mapping and application process proved to be a long one but neither the City nor Sierra Peel wavered in their determination to see the project through. A total of 76 parcels of city owned land along the Credit were identified and mapped, and a further 15 were contributed by Credit Valley Conservation, an enthusiastic advocate of the plan. City staff project lead Olav Sibille conducted an open house to get public feedback and conferred twice with aboriginal communities to seek input and approval. Several councillors monitored the process closely.
In this 2015 Review year for the Greenbelt, Mississauga’s decision has far reaching impacts. The Crombie Report, released just two days ago, stresses the vital need to preserve a strong and cohesive Greenbelt and emphasizes the importance of developing URV connections to complete and strengthen the larger ecosystem. Mississauga’s decision has given both practical and symbolic support to Ontario’s world famous greenbelt. Mississauga, in turn, can gain well deserved recognition for its leadership. Other communities including Brampton, Thorold, Ajax and Toronto are looking into similar options and hopefully will follow Mississauga’s lead. Oakville has already achieved its own success.
Sierra Peel Greenbelt advocate Thaia Jones said today “the Ontario Chapter and Peel Group of Sierra Club of Canada Foundation can take pride in this Greenbelt achievement, and move on to additional URV projects”. Dan McDermott added, “Mississauga, as Canada’s 6th largest municipality, has just contributed to enhancing the size and scope of the world’s largest Greenbelt”.
For further information:
Thaia Jones, 905-276-9290
Dan McDermott, 416-461-4787, (cell) 416-873-3852