Toronto, Ont. – Ontario Premier Doug Ford keeps promising he won’t touch the Greenbelt. Yet his Minister of Municipal Affairs started a process to allow sub-division development on protected Greenbelt land.

The forested land, located on the north side of Vaughan in the “Natural Core” protected zone of the Oak Ridges Moraine, supports important wildlife, including endangered species such as bobolink, butternut and bats. It contains a provincially significant wetland and the headwaters of Patterson Creek, therefore helping to provide clean water and reduce flooding in the region. It has been protected under the Oak Ridges Moraine and Greenbelt acts since 2003.

Its development would remove one of the last large intact forested areas in north Vaughan. Building a sub-division on the land will also increase the amount of car dependent housing and the pollution that causes climate change. It is also unnecessary, as York Region has more than enough land within existing urban boundaries to provide for all projected new housing needs to at least 2031.

The Minister, by ordering the Provincial Development Facilitator to begin negotiations to allow development on protected Greenbelt land, would have opened the door for other developers to ask for the same. The result would be death by a thousand cuts and makes a mockery of the Premier’s claim that he won’t touch the Greenbelt.

Rather than attack it, our provincial government should work with the public, municipalities and MPPs to expand the Greenbelt. It will have a chance to do so when the Legislature resumes this fall and the private members bill to extend protection to the Paris-Galt Moraine is considered at Committee.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, abraude@environmentaldefence.ca