For decades, unchecked urban sprawl has paved over Canada’s best remaining farmland and sensitive natural areas. Inefficient land use has compromised 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. Directing growth to existing urban areas will improve the protection of farms, nature and water. It also saves taxpayers from paying for expensive sprawl, lowers our carbon pollution, and reduces congestion. This allows us to create communities with better access to services like public transit, recreation and shopping. By growing smarter, we all win.


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Support smarter growth in cities and towns

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Encourage the extraction and use of environmentally responsible aggregates

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It’s possible. We can build housing, fight gridlock AND expand the Greenbelt

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Breaking News

Why you should care about the vindication of Victor Doyle, Greenbelt architect and urban planner

  Guest Blog by David Donnelly, Donnelly Law and counsel to Victor Doyle Everyday our communities are influenced by professional urban planners. Yet planners are commonly pressured...

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Save Belfountain! One of the last remaining Greenbelt hamlets under threat

This is a guest blog by Judy Mabee, President of The Belfountain Community Organization, a residents’ group committed to preserving the rural heritage and environmental...

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Ontario’s Greenbelt benefits us all

We love the Greenbelt and it’s no wonder. Ontario’s Greenbelt is vital to the prosperity of our region and the well-being of citizens. Did you...

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A trip home to Hamilton for my favourite Greenbelt hike

Growing up in Hamilton, the Ontario Greenbelt has always been close to home. It was a place where my family and I would berry pick and...

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Timeline of our success


Highway 413 is cancelled

The province of Ontario cancelled the $6 billion dollar GTA West highway saving thousands of acres of prime farmland and the largest remaining forested area in Vaughan. Building unnecessary highways encourages people to drive, increasing gridlock and carbon pollution.


Undemocratic Ontario Municipal Board is Replaced

For 30 years, Environmental Defence has been calling for OMB reform. Finally, the OMB has been replaced with the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT). The new rules promise to level the playing field for citizen participation and empower municipal decision making in land-use planning.


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.


Election 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.


You can help protect Ontario’s farmland, nature and water and support smart growth. By signing petitions, getting involved with a local residents group, you can make your voice heard to create positive 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 creating livable communities.

Susan Lloyd Swail

Senior Manager, Livable Communities

Anuja Kapoor

Program coordinator, Livable Communities

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