Statement by Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence on the Value of the Greenbelt
Toronto, Ont. — It’s time to set the record straight about the value of the Greenbelt. The Greenbelt has protected 1.8 million acres of farmland, local food supplies, the headwaters of our rivers and important forests and wildlife habitat for over 12 years. Polling shows its protection is supported by over 89 per cent of the Ontario population.
The Greenbelt does not constrain housing supply or cause high house prices. Municipal data shows that there is enough land available to provide for housing development within existing Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) urban boundaries until 2031. There are also abundant lands outside of towns and cities that are not within the Greenbelt that could be available for expansion after that date.
Efforts to open the Greenbelt are designed to allow land speculators to build monster homes, at immense profits, in remote areas. They are not about providing affordable homes where they are needed. Such changes would have dramatic and severe consequences, such as the following:
1. Higher property taxes for existing local residents to pay for the construction and long term maintenance of sewer and water pipes from existing towns and cities to remote developments in the Greenbelt
2. Higher costs for the construction and maintenance of new roads to these areas
3. Higher school board taxes to pay for buses for kids living in remote development areas
4. More cars on the road, more gridlock and higher commute costs
5. Reduced productivity for GTHA businesses
6. No new homes in places where most people want to live and work
7. More land paved over with more run-off and flooding
8. Loss of natural areas for recreation near existing towns and cities with resulting health and quality of life implications
9. Less local healthy food as protected farmland is paved over
Greedy developers want to open up the Greenbelt to build the same car-dependent sprawl development on prime farmland that has padded their wallets for decades. It would be a tragedy if Ontario lost the Greenbelt and it must never happen.
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.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232; 416-885-7847 (cell); firstname.lastname@example.org