Toronto, ON – New research released today by the Neptis Foundation shows that unprecedented amounts of sub-division development are paving over thousands of acres of Ontario’s prime farmland surrounding rural towns and villages across the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH).  And as concerning, is that this sprawl is occurring in areas where it was supposed be discouraged by the provincial Growth Plan. This ongoing sprawl flies in the face of provincial policy, paves farmland, weakens the Greenbelt, and it doesn’t build the communities and affordable housing people need or make new transit possible. Ultimately, it further erodes the quality of life for residents in our region.

“This report shows that the development industry has been undermining the Growth Plan every chance they get,” said Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “It proves yet again that despite tens of thousands of hectares of land being available for development, Growth Plan rules are being gamed and need to be strengthened.”

“Developer ‘alternative facts’ about the Greenbelt causing housing affordability issues are just false,” he continued. “There is more land than the size of 1.5 Toronto’s available right now for development within urban boundaries and the industry wants to use rising housing prices as a diversion to seek support for destruction of farmland and natural areas. They seek to divert the public’s attention away from the fact that they are unwilling to shift their industry away from the cookie-cutter, low density, car-dependent, property tax heavy development model that makes the industry the most profits.”

“We’re sick of the lies. It’s time for the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) and the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) to put up or shut up in a public discussion that ends this self-serving spin once and for all,” he concluded.

Ontario’s Greenbelt and Growth Plan are an attempt to shift the GGH towards more compact, complete community growth where new neighbourhoods that are built are walkable, served by transit, close to shops and greenspace.  These communities support a mix of housing types offering affordable options to families of all sizes and provide a high quality of life for residents. Undermining the Growth Plan encourages sprawl and makes for a poorer, less competitive, environmentally degraded southern Ontario.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (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:
Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext 232; 416-885-7847 (cell); skohls@environmentaldefence.ca