Toronto, ON — Today the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance and Environmental Defence jointly released a new study, Ontario’s Greenbelt at Risk, which finds that the Greenbelt Plan is at risk of being undermined by development interests and needs strengthening.
The study maps out four major threats to the Greenbelt, identified by Ontario Greenbelt Alliance members:

Sprawl developments in the Greenbelt that would destroy farmland, forest and wetlands and the animals that live there;
Proposals for infrastructure, such as new mega-highways that would pave over prime farmland, contribute to poorer air quality, and generate more greenhouse gases;
An airport in the Greenbelt would eliminate 7,530 hectares of prime farmland and forests, spark development along the boundary of the Rouge Park and contribute to climate change;
Dumping contaminated soil, which puts water and food sources at risk

In 2015, the province will review the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, the Niagara Escarpment Plan and the Places to Grow Plan. As the province prepares for this review, the intent of the plans – to permanently protect agricultural lands, clean water resources and natural areas by stopping sprawl – may be lost if these threats are not addressed.
“By successfully limiting urban sprawl and directing growth to urban areas, the Greenbelt has protected Ontarians’ access to local food, drinking water and natural areas. But, as this study shows, the plans need to be strengthened,” says Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “It shouldn’t be possible to shrink the Greenbelt, or put a mega-highway or airport on Greenbelt land.”
A proposed highway, the GTA West, would cost $4 billion, cut a 50 km swath through prime farmland – much of it in the Greenbelt, damaging water sources and destroying wildlife habitat. Instead of building another highway that will worsen smog and contribute to climate change, sprawl and roadkill, the province should invest the $4 billion it would cost to build the highway in regional rapid transit.
“By identifying these threats, we’re giving the province an opportunity to strengthen the plans, to make them better for Ontarians today and for future generations,” says Susan Swail, Ontario Greenbelt Alliance coordinator. “We’re encouraging members of the public to have their say at StrengthentheGreenbelt.ca.”
Read the study here.
About the ONTARIO GREENBELT ALLIANCE (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 enhancing the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. It is our vision to grow and strengthen the Greenbelt landscape so that southern Ontario’s communities are planned in the smartest and most sustainable way possible. Environmental Defence is the coordinator of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all
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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