Toronto, ON – In honour of the Greenbelt’s eighth birthday today, the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance released a report entitled, Good Things Are Growing in Ontario: Expanding Ontario’s Greenbelt Through Urban River Valleys.
The report shows that over five million more Ontarians would be directly connected to the Greenbelt if the Greenbelt grew along some of the province’s best known rivers and creeks. This is now a possibility, thanks to the province’s new urban river valley designation.
“There’s now an unprecedented opportunity to connect millions of Ontarians with the Greenbelt,” said Erin Shapero of Environmental Defence. “This will ensure river valleys get the permanent protection they deserve. And it will create new opportunities for Ontario residents to interact with the areas that grow our food, the forests that clean our air and the source waters that provide the water that we, and our green spaces, rely on.”
In the report, the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance recommends that the municipalities of Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville, Markham, Guelph and Hamilton use the new designation as a further layer of protection for their urban river valleys and as a way to educate residents about the Greenbelt.
Municipal Leaders for the Greenbelt – a group co-chaired by Ajax Mayor Steve Parish, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge and Toronto City Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker – believe this new designation will prompt municipal governments to act. Councillor De Baeremaeker said, “We are in a new era of Greenbelt expansion, where the potential exists for thousands of acres of natural areas to be added to the Greenbelt all across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.”
The province announced the urban river valley designation in January. The designation allows municipal policies to override the Greenbelt Plan in cases where they are stronger than the Plan. The Alliance looks to municipalities listed in the report to be the first to employ the new designation, and hopes that others will follow.
“For many of these municipalities, the Greenbelt will offer a second layer of protection that provides permanency, while allowing strong municipal policies to remain in effect,” said Dan McDermott, Chapter Director, Sierra Club Ontario. “This allows for strong municipal stewardship and protection of urban river valleys for generations to come.”
The report can be downloaded at http://greenbeltalliance.ca/Good-Things-Are-Growing-in-Ontario
The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance: (http://www.greenbeltalliance.ca) The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is a diverse multi-stakeholder coalition of close to 100 organizations who share a common vision for protecting and expanding the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. Environmental Defence is the coordinator of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance.
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Naomi Carniol, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 258; (416) 570-2878 (cell) ncarniol@environmentaldefence.ca