For decades, unchecked urban sprawl has paved over Canada’s best remaining farmland and sensitive natural areas. Inefficient land use has compromised entire ecosystems and the wildlife that inhabit them, polluted water supplies, and has cost taxpayers billions in unnecessary infrastructure costs.
Ontarians have said enough is enough.

The Solution

Big change to the way growth happens is on its way, thanks to the province’s new Greenbelt and Growth Plans. Now, the challenge is all in the implementation. Can and will we get it right? Our future depends on it.


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Support efficient growth in cities and towns.

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Encourage the extraction and use of environmentally responsible aggregates.

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Ontario’s Greenbelt and Growth Plans are key to creating liveable communities.

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Timeline of our success


The Greenbelt Expands by 10,000 Acres

After years of campaigning by Environmental Defence and our partners, the province adds more than 10,000 acres of land to the Greenbelt by protecting 21 Urban River Valleys, Coastal Wetlands and 4 new land parcels in Halton, Niagara, Simcoe.


New Greenbelt and Growth Plans announced

The province of Ontario concludes the 2 years of public consultation on the 4 land use plans; Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine, Niagara Esarpment and Growth Plans. This results in a strengthened Greenbelt and Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) with a focus on smarter more compact growth, with focus on complete communities, intregrated transit, action on climate change and greater watershed and water protection in the GGH.


SLAPP Suits banned

The Province of Ontario takes action on Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, a long standing issue for Environmental Defence and ENGO and NGO’s across the Province.


Municipal Election Reform

Ontario allows municipalities to use ranked ballots in elections if they wish to.


Municipal Campaign Finance Reform

When Municipal election campaigns are funded heavily by development corporations, the councillors elected can be biased, resulting in questionable city development planning. Ontario ends corporate and union donations to municipal elected officials in 2016.


Stop the 413

The proposed 413 (GTA West) mega highway would cut through the Greenbelt, impact  multiple crossings of the Humber and Credit Rivers and destroy farmland, forests and wetlands. Our campaign to stop it has caused the province to put the project on hold while its future is considered.


Greenbelt review

Ontario is reviewing its Greenbelt and Growth Plans. We called for halting infrastructure projects on protected Greenbelt lands, freezing urban boundary expansion and increasing incentives to ensure municipalities meet targets to increase the density and livability of existing settled areas.


The Greenbelt Grows Again - Mississauga Expands the Greenbelt

Mississauga city council voted unanimously to designate over 800 acres of land along the Credit River as an Urban River Valley, thus protecting this natural heritage area by joining it to Ontario’s Greenbelt.


Industry and NGOs launch the world’s first voluntary aggregate standard

We helped develop and launch the Cornerstone Standards Council, a not-for-profit organization that has created world-class voluntary certification standards for responsibly sourced sand,  stone and gravel, and help resolve conflicts between industry, First Nations and community and environmental groups.


Greenbelt grows - Glenorchy Conservation Area

Located in North Oakville, the Glenorchy Conservation Area protects 650 acres of environmentally sensitive lands and natural heritage systems including Sixteen Mile Creek. Becoming part of the Greenbelt protects its hills, forests, creeks, and wetlands from sprawl and development.


Establishment of Rouge National Park

Since 2012, Environmental Defence has been involved in advocating for a strongly protected Rouge Watershed and Rouge National Urban Park as part of Ontario's Greenbelt. In 2013, we led the legal team review of the proposed national park legislation and continue to be a strong voice advocating for the need to greatly improve the Rouge National Park Act and enlarge the size of the park.  


Helped to establish Ontario’s Greenbelt

Our efforts to protect farmland, natural heritage lands and vulnerable source waters resulted in the establishment of Ontario’s Greenbelt in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Since then, we’ve worked to strengthen and grow the Greenbelt, protect more at risk land and change the direction of city growth in the region.


 Founded the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance

Made up of over 100 groups, the Ontario Greenbelt  Alliance is the watchdog and protector of Ontario’s Greenbelt. Alliance members are united by the shared belief that a strong economy and a beautiful, well-protected Greenbelt go hand in hand.

Breaking News

A Concerned Group of Cottagers Save Blanding's Turtle on Stoney Lake

This is a guest blog by David Donnelly of Donnelly Law, Canada’s leading environmental law firm. Like many Ontarians, you may have childhood memories of wilderness...

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Fitting the last piece of the puzzle for livable communities in the country’s largest region

As two former municipal councillors, we know firsthand that the odds have been stacked against building smart sustainable communities in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area...

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Getting rid of the Ontario Municipal Board is good news but your voice matters more than ever

Last October, the province began the review of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Over 5,000 emails and postcards were sent by Ontarians urging the province...

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Isn't it time that electric public transit returns to Ontario?

Drivers, transit users, cyclists and walkers, no matter how you move in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), the Big Move Regional Transportation Plan...

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Big problems require big solutions, and all of us can help make the changes we want to see. By signing petitions and attending events, you can make your voice heard and help to affect change.

"Environmental Defence has been a strong ally and resource for us as we work to protect greenspace, remaining farmland and the Greenbelt in York Region, while advocating for an end to urban sprawl and reducing unbearable traffic gridlock."

-Sony Rai, Founder, Sustainable Vaughan, Ontario.


At Environmental Defence, we educate the public about a host of environmental issues, work with business and government leaders to advise on policy decisions and mobilize Canadians to create the cleaner, greener more prosperous country we’re striving for. Meet the team who works on Land.

Susan Lloyd Swail

Senior Manager, Livable Communities

Join The Community

Change happens when people like you express your concern and make your voice heard. Join our online community of folks concerned about protecting green space in Canada and creating smarter communities. We will send you a quarterly update on our campaigns, invitations to join us at events and opportunities for you to take action.

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