Mississauga council has voted unanimously to join the Ontario Greenbelt.
On Dec. 9, City council endorsed a motion to expand the Provincial Greenbelt Plan Area by designating publicly owned lands along the Credit River as Urban River Valley (URV). This could mean more than 800 acres along the Credit River, would be protected lands, ultimately contributing to a healthier natural environment.
“Mississauga has shown leadership in demonstrating its commitment to protecting the Greenbelt’s connectivity, paving the way for other municipalities to follow,” said Thaia Jones, member of the Sierra Club Peel, an environmental organization.
Ontario’s Greenbelt is world-renowned and includes 1.8 million acres of protected land. It encompasses 535,000 acres of lakes, wetlands, river valleys and forests, 10,000 kilometres of trails and safeguards 78 at-risk species. Through economic spinoff, it also generates $9.1 billion and 161,000 jobs.
For Mississauga, implications include providing its natural heritage lands with greater prestige, encouraging tourism, active transportation and recreation, providing outdoor educational opportunities and offering protection to flood plains and valley lands.
Recent polling by the Provincial government shows that 89 per cent of respondents in Peel support the expansion of Ontario’s Greenbelt, with one in three wanting to protect Ontario’s clean drinking water.
If approved by the Region of Peel and the Province, the city could be the first to join the Greenbelt under Ontario’s new Urban River Valley designation, enacted in 2013.
“Now we’re challenging other municipalities across Ontario to pick up on Mississauga’s leadership,” said Ward 1 councillor Jim Tovey, a strong supporter of the Urban Valley Greenbelt Plan.
With this accreditation comes a need to connect people in cities with the urban valleys around them, said Susan Murray, vice president of communications for Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation (FGF).
In hopes of accomplishing this, FGF has partnered with CVC to create a 110-kilometre hiking trail along the Credit River. Stretching from outside of Orangeville, through Peel, the trail will end at the mouth of the river in Lake Ontario in Port Credit. It will highlight the Credit River’s cultural heritage sites, including sacred First Nations sites and the Barber Mill.
“The Credit Valley Trail will serve as a living legacy of what we can accomplish together with a shared vision and collaborative resources,” said Mississauga councillor and Chair of Credit Valley Conservation Nando Iannicca.
“When complete, the trail will protect natural spaces along the Credit River, serving as a gateway to the Greenbelt’s inland lakes in the northern watershed, weaving cultural, historical and natural tourism spaces to Lake Ontario in the south.”
In September, the Credit Valley Trail project received $100,000 in funding from the FGF to create this “connected pedestrian corridor.”
“I want to congratulate Mayor Crombie and the City of Mississauga for their leadership in taking the next steps towards greenbelting the Credit River,” Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of FGF.
A master plan for the Credit Valley Trail is expected to be complete by 2017.
This story originally appeared on The Mississauga News website, and can be found here.