Kitchener, ON – Smart Growth Waterloo Region and Environmental Defence are co-hosting a town hall meeting tomorrow about the high risk of urban sprawl in Waterloo Region. Urban sprawl damages our economy, environment, and quality of life.
The meeting coincides with the Ontario government’s consultation on development charges and land-use planning decision making. The consultation will shape the future of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and how development is paid for in Ontario. It could lead to changes that foster sustainable communities while preventing urban sprawl.
Waterloo’s experience demonstrates why changes are needed. To accommodate nearly 300,000 new residents expected to move to Waterloo by 2031, the elected regional council consulted with the community and devised an official plan which focused on revitalizing downtown Kitchener and Waterloo, made more efficient use of existing infrastructure, and protected all but 85 hectares of the region’s valuable farmland.
The plan would have put Waterloo Region on track to be the centre for smart growth in the province. However, under an appeal filed by landowners and developers, the OMB neutered the plan and opened up more than 1,000 hectares of farmland to sprawl. Reforms are required so that the OMB cannot undermine local governments’ efforts to promote smart growth.
The town hall will discuss the high costs of sprawl, including how existing residents often need to foot the bill for bad planning decisions. It will enable residents to have their say about how to curb sprawl and support smart growth in Ontario. This is the second of two Smarten Up Growth town hall meetings taking place in the Greater Golden Horseshoe this month.
WHAT: Panel discussion about smart growth in Ontario, and the issues facing Waterloo Region
WHO:   
Kevin Thomason, Vice-Chair, Grand River Environmental Network
Rob Horne, Commissioner of Planning, Housing and Community Services for
the Region of Waterloo
Kate Daley, Co-Founder, Smart Growth Waterloo Region
Aidan Grove-White, Planning Advisor, Environmental Defence
Moderated by Mike Farwell, journalist and broadcaster
WHEN: Thursday, December 12, 2013
6:30 p.m. Doors open for light refreshments
7:00 p.m. Panel discussion begins
WHERE: Downtown Community Centre, 35B Weber Street West, Kitchener
For more on the impacts of sprawl, read The High Costs of Sprawl: How Building More Sustainable Communities Will Save Us Time and Money
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 an interview, please contact:
Naomi Carniol, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext 258; 416-570-2878 (cell) ncarniol@environmentaldefence.ca