Toronto, ON — Land speculators are lining up to cut the heart out of the Greenbelt  as revealed in a York Region report, which identifies 51 areas that 41 speculators want to remove from the Greenbelt. These areas include forests, rivers and farmland.
Ontario’s Greenbelt was created to protect nature and agricultural land from urban sprawl. But the City of Vaughan, Township of King, Town of Markham and the City of Niagara Falls are all bringing requests from landowners, including developers, to remove land from the Greenbelt to allow more sprawling development.
“If the Ontario government agrees to remove these areas from the Greenbelt, the Greenbelt will become a joke and be viewed as a plan without any teeth that deep pocketed developers can weaken – just to build more sprawl that damages our air, worsens our traffic and puts municipalities into debt,” says Tim Gray, Executive Director, Environmental Defence.
“The Greenbelt is supposed to be permanently protected – not just protected until developers want to build more sprawl,” says King Township Councillor Debbie Schaefer. “Ontario should firmly reject requests that will result in the Greenbelt’s death by a thousand cuts. As soon as one application to remove land is approved, the flood gates will open.”
According to a Neptis Foundation report, Understanding the Fundamentals of the Growth Plan there is already enough land set aside for development to 2041 if current demographic trends continue and intensification targets are met.
“Progressive members of the development community know we don’t need to pave over protected farmland and forests,” Gray says. “Instead of building out, it’s time to build up and in. Developing in existing urban areas is more cost-effective for municipalities, puts less of a drain on taxpayers, makes investing in public transit more affordable and creates vibrant, walkable communities where more of us actually want to live.”
On May 28, the first phase of the province’s review of the Greenbelt Plan and Growth Plan ends. As municipalities prepare submissions for the review, several reports about land removal from the Greenbelt were tabled over the last two weeks, including this report by York Region (tabled May 21, 2015), Vaughan Council’s report (tabled May 19, see map page 19) and Niagara Region’s report.
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 an interview please contact:
Naomi Carniol, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext 258; 416-570-2878 (cell); ncarniol@environmentaldefence.ca