About The Report:


Ontario’s world renowned Greenbelt prevents urban sprawl and protects Ontarians’ access to local food, clean drinking water and natural areas. But as this study shows, Ontario’s Greenbelt is under threat and the Greenbelt Plan is at risk of being weakened.

In 2015, the award-winning Greenbelt and Places to Grow Plans will be reviewed by the Ontario government. These plans work together to direct affordable growth to existing cities and towns while permanently protecting nature, farmland and our water from sprawl. The 2015 review of the Greenbelt Plan is an opportunity to reduce threats and strengthen Ontario’s Greenbelt.

At the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, our vision is for a bigger, stronger Greenbelt that protects our communities, water, forests, wildlife, and farmland and where subdivision sprawl and unnecessary development are not allowed.

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Threats to the Greenbelt include:

  • Developers and municipalities that want to remove lands from the Greenbelt and weaken the rules in order to build sprawl subdivisions that would destroy farmland, forest and wetlands
  • Proposals for infrastructure, such as new mega-highways that would pave over prime farmland, contribute to poorer air quality, and generate more greenhouse gases
  • An airport in the Greenbelt would eliminate 7,530 hectares of prime farmland and forests, spark development along the boundary of the Rouge Park and contribute to climate change
  • Dumping contaminated soil, which puts water and food sources at risk

Image Map

1. Pavement, pipes and power lines


Infrastructure, including new mega-highways (such as GTA West and Mid-Peninsula) and the expansion of existing highways (such as 407, 427, and 404), sewers, water and energy pipes, as well as industrial infrastructure cut through the Greenbelt and facilitate sprawl.



  1. The construction of the mega-highways alone would pave over 3,400 hectares of farmland
  2. At least $4 billion less money for public transit like subways and buses
  3. Wildlife movement blocked and thousands of animals killed
  4. Poorer air quality and more greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change



Stop new highway development to reduce climate change impacts, and keep large industrial infrastructure out of farmland and forests. Invest in regional rapid transit to help communities develop smarter, denser housing and businesses.

2. Sprawl, inappropriate development in the Greenbelt


Sprawl development proposals are threatening to eat up productive farmland and destroy forests and wetlands. The Greenbelt Plan permanently protects agricultural and natural land from development. Some municipalities and developers are pushing to shrink the boundaries, take land out of the Greenbelt or allow outdated development plans to go ahead which will erode the plan.



  1. Inappropriate development results in a loss of farmland, forests, and wetlands
  2. Leapfrog development beyond the Greenbelt. We can’t afford more sprawl. It is 50 per cent more costly to build on greenfield sites compared to intensifying an already urban area



Support healthy compact communities, plug loopholes and ensure municipalities comply with the Greenbelt Plan.

3. Dumping contaminated fill/soil on agricultural lands and in natural areas


Massive amounts of excess soil excavated from industrial brownfield sites and construction projects, some of it contaminated, is being dumped on Greenbelt land. In one case alone, the equivalent of 200 Olympic-size swimming pools of fill was dumped at a rural site.



  1. Contaminated soil can pollute rivers, drinking water and productive agricultural land
  2. Toxins like cyanide, oil and carcinogenic dry cleaning fluid have been found in soil dumps



Ban contaminated soil from being dumped in Ontario. We need to ensure that contaminated soil is cleaned before being dumped in the Greenbelt. Track it from construction sites and clean it.

4. Pickering Airport


The federal government wants to build a new and unnecessary airport on Greenbelt land. The scheme includes building new factories on the rest of the farmland and forests, valleys and natural areas that the federal government owns.



  1. Loss of 7,530 hectares (75.3km2) of prime farmland and valley lands
  2. Local health effects from air and noise pollution from planes
  3. 3,250 hectares of land and billions of dollars will go towards building an unnecessary airport like Montreal’s Mirabel Airport, which has been closed to passenger flights for 10 years.



Stop the Pickering airport, expand Rouge Park, support agriculture near urban areas on the federal lands and the establishment of businesses close to where people live.

The Value of the Greenbelt

According to 2013 poll, more than 90 per cent of Ontarians support the Greenbelt.The Greenbelt stops urban sprawl and improves our quality of life.

The Greenbelt provides:

5,500 farms with $230,000 average gross revenue per farm
$9.1 billion in economic benefits, including 161,000 full time jobs
Forested areas clean our air, removing the greenhouse gas pollution of 27 million cars per year
Habitat for 78 species at risk of extinction
10,000 km of recreational trails to hike, walk, ski and more
$2.3 billion in ecosystem services, such as clean water, air filtration and flood control, essential to managing climate change
98,700 hectares of lakes, rivers and wetlands providing freshwater to millions
A healthy future to millions of people projected to move into and grow up in this region

= finite and priceless



  1. Sign our petition to strengthen and grow the Greenbelt
  2. Sign up for our Greenbelt newsletter to find out how you can get involved in the 2015 review, learn about dates for public consultations, and keep up on emerging news and issues