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
The addition of the Urban River Valley (URV) Designation to the Greenbelt is brilliant. URV is a real way to enhance protection of rivers and waterways in conjunction with the Province’s 2015 reintroduction of the Great Lakes Protection Act. Several municipalities have resolved to designate as Greenbelt their public lands in urban river valleys. The Province should facilitate this by applying URV Designation in the communities of: City of Mississauga, Town of Oakville, City of Guelph and the City of Toronto.
White Belt Lands
The land near the Greenbelt designated “Whitebelt” is largely in agricultural use at this time, fulfilling an irreplaceable purpose for our communities and deserving the greater protection of Greenbelt designation. In 2014, Municipal Leaders for the Greenbelt advocated expanding the Greenbelt by 200,000 acres by re-designating agriculturally significant Whitebelt lands. The Sierra Club believes the Province should move currently existing Whitebelt lands into the Greenbelt to protect them and continue to feed our communities into the future.
No More Aggregate in the Greenbelt
All three plans [Greenbelt, Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation] should be strengthened to stop the development of any new aggregate operations (including expansion of existing operations) in core natural heritage, prime agricultural areas or below the water table throughout the four plan areas. The province must take a more active role in ensuring rehabilitation plans are comprehensive, timely and properly implemented.
Gaps in Protected Lands & Resources
Surrounded by the Greenbelt, the headwaters of Carruthers Creek in northeast Pickering and northwest Whitby face the threat of urban sprawl. Without the strong protections Ontario’s Greenbelt provides, these fertile farmlands, lush forests, and water systems risk being swallowed up by development. These lands are irreplaceable and provide us with a secure food supply, fresh air and clean drinking water. Protecting Carruthers Creek headwaters by expanding the Greenbelt to include its headwaters will help curb urban sprawl, ensuring our communities are walkable, livable, and transit-friendly.
The Hamilton-Niagara area has a unique micro-climate. All of the lands in the southern Greenbelt which are currently in a non-development type of zoning (agricultural zoning, environmental protection zoning, provincially significant forests and wetlands) should be put into the Greenbelt. The City of Thorold’s Lake Gibson preservation task force has been meeting for more than 10 years to find ways of protecting and preserving the natural heritage features in the land around lakes Gibson and Moodie. Land in the area protects the municipal water supply for much of Niagara, provides important wildlife habitat, is laced with trails looping through scenic forests and has historic canal ruins; therefore the senstive lands in the area of these two lakes should be included in the Greenbelt.