Toronto, ON — Over 100 community groups, including the Oak Ridges Moraine Partnership and Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, are requesting that the provincial government grow the Greenbelt to protect 1.5 million acres of land containing vital water resources.

The ongoing Greenbelt Plan review represents a unique opportunity to permanently protect important headwaters, moraines, groundwater recharge areas and wetlands. These vital water systems supply clean drinking water directly to one million people and help provide a clean source of drinking water to millions more in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

A recent report completed by the Conservation Authorities Moraine Coalition, titled 2015 Report on the Environmental Health of the Oak Ridges Moraine and Adjacent Greenbelt Lands, concluded the Greenbelt Plan is effective in protecting watershed health.

“The Plan Review is an important opportunity to grow the Greenbelt to create a more resilient and connected natural landscape,” says Caroline Schultz, Executive Director at Ontario Nature, “This is a one-shot deal. We must protect these highly vulnerable source water areas before they are gone.”

Under increasing pressure from development and urban sprawl, these local water features deliver $3 billion annually in economic benefits by filtering and restoring groundwater supplies, ensuring healthy rivers and watersheds, and mitigating risks to downstream communities from flooding and extreme weather. The 1.5 million acres for Greenbelt expansion, identified by community groups, lie outside land already designated for urban development needed to accommodate population growth until 2041 and beyond.

“The Greenbelt needs to expand to give municipalities the help they need to plan for smart development,” says Tim Gray, Executive Director at Environmental Defence. “This map shows where that expansion should go.”

The Oak Ridges Moraine Partnership is a coalition of Earthroots, EcoSpark, Ontario Nature and STORM. Our groups have been leading the charge to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine and important source water areas in the Greater Golden Horseshoe for more than 25 years.

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.

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For media inquiries please contact.
John Hassell, Ontario Nature: 416-444-8419 x 269 (work), 416-786-2171 (cell), johnh@ontarionature.org.
Allen Braude, Environmental Defence: 416-323-9521 ext. 247 (work), 416-356-2587 (cell), abraude@environmentaldefence.ca