For immediate release: May 18, 2017

Statement by Environmental Defence’s Tim Gray on Ontario’s Release of Final Growth and Greenbelt Plans

Toronto, ON – Today’s announcement that Ontario’s Greenbelt will remain protected and that more farmland, water sources and sensitive natural areas will be included under its expansion plan is good news. Growing the Greenbelt to better connect urban and rural communities through Urban River Valleys, adding Coastal Wetlands, and updating agricultural policies are positive signs the government understands the importance of keeping our farmlands, forests, wetlands safe and sustainable.

Positive changes to the plan including minimal corrections to the Greenbelt’s original boundaries (with no land swapping) and processes to grow the Greenbelt are clear indicators that despite intense developer pressure, the province has stayed strong in its commitment to a prosperous and sustainable future.

The Growth Plan’s policies like integration of transit hubs and the municipal intensification requirements provide strong direction to create sustainable cities and address climate change, but good policy direction is only the first step.

Despite these positive attributes, more still needs to be done to stop sprawl and faster action is needed to ensure the building of smarter, more sustainable cities. The Growth Plan reforms stopped short of freezing urban boundaries for the next 10 years – the action most needed to show that a new approach to urban growth has arrived. And, delaying the implementation of the 60 per cent intensification target to 2031 will mean that the growth form will not change fast enough, so sprawl will continue to eat up farmland and natural areas around our cities.

We will work with the government to ensure that plan implementation, monitoring and enforcement is effective and that the new rules result in better housing options other than costly, low density sprawl.

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