Vaughan – The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance congratulated the McGuinty government today on its new plan to allow municipalities to grow the Greenbelt in their community. The province’s new criteria for growing the Greenbelt, released today by the Honourable Jim Watson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, are the next step towards protecting southern Ontario’s agricultural production and sensitive natural areas.
“Municipalities across southern Ontario want to do what’s right for the environment, the economy and the quality of life of their citizens, they want the Greenbelt in their community” said Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “Today the province has given cities, towns and rural communities a tool to accomplish this.”
“The over 80 members of the Greenbelt Alliance are excited by the prospect of working with interested municipalities to help grow local economies, conserve natural heritage and farmland and ensure clean air and water through Greenbelt protection”, said Caroline Schultz, Executive Director of Ontario Nature.
The plan to Grow the Greenbelt was initiated by the provincial government at the request of municipalities. The new criteria are the result of significant public consultation earlier this year and will give municipalities in southern Ontario the option of protecting greenspace and agricultural production within their jurisdiction by designating land as part of the Greenbelt.
“This announcement is great news for areas that were left out of the original Greenbelt Plan even though local governments and citizens appealed to Queen’s Park to be included” said Kevin Thomason, President of the Sunfish Lake Association and member of the Waterloo Community Council. “Now we will be able to get the same Greenbelt benefits for our natural areas and rural farms as other rapidly growing parts of Ontario.”
“While we are pleased with this initiative, this is only the first step, the province needs to be vigilant about sprawl in areas that are not protected by the Greenbelt” said Barbara Halsall, Past President of Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources in Halton Hills. “In some cases, the province will need to intervene when municipal governments or developers push inappropriate development proposals that threaten farmland, human health, and the environment.”
About the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance: The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is a diverse multi-stakeholder coalition of more than 80 organizations who share a common vision for protecting and expanding the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. Environmental Defence is the coordinator of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. www.greenbeltalliance.ca. 
 
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Mike Layton, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext 257; (416) 525-5758 (cell)
Caroline Schultz, Ontario Nature, (416) 444-8419 ext. 237