An Important Opportunity to Submit Comments
On June 14th, 2016 representatives from CCKT attended an all-day meeting of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance (OGA) at the The Old Mill in Toronto to discuss strategic steps to both strengthen and expand the Greenbelt.
Various environmental and community groups from across southern Ontario were in attendance and during a number of breakout sessions throughout the day many individual local issues were identified and summarized. This allowed the OGA to coordinate a united front to the Provincial Government regarding its recommendations concerning the future viability of the Greenbelt.
While the original reason for the creation of the Greenbelt was to protect and maintain farmland in and around the Greater Toronto–Hamilton Area, the concept has since developed many facets: Protecting existing green spaces like urban river valleys, watersheds and natural heritage sites; implementing plans to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The freezing of urban boundaries is crucial if we are to end urban sprawl and it is imperative that new infrastructure that promotes sprawl like new highways is eliminated. In that fight to protect our farmland care must be taken that we do not transfer the sprawl from these “greenfields” to our rural communities, thus creating unsustainable “dormitories” for nearby cities.
Traffic mayhem is a reality in the present GTHA. If we simply transfer sprawl from one area to another we will have gained nothing and traffic gridlock will persist, costing us billions of dollars in lost productivity, deterioration of air quality and a general decline in our standard of living.
In the larger urban centres, such as Barrie, Newmarket, Guelph, etc. we need to plan for more complete communities in terms of jobs, local amenities, recreational and cultural opportunities, viable local transit, in an effort to reduce the commuter traffic.
In addition, improved, efficient regional transit systems need to be improved and expanded throughout the GTHA to provide a truly viable transit option for the many commuters traveling to the major urban centres.
During the meeting many points were made concerning how the Greenbelt could be improved and grown. However, the predominant theme that came across in the discussions was the need for the Provincial government to take full ownership of the Greenbelt and not to allow it to be diluted by delegating enforcement and governance to the regional and municipal levels of government.
Expanding the Greenbelt to include urban river valleys and other natural heritage features in urban areas is clearly a positive addition. However, the need to expand the Greenbelt to include additional regions closely connected to Toronto and Hamilton (e.g. Simcoe, Wellington, Kitchener-Waterloo, Niagara) is essential in protecting prime agricultural land and natural heritage systems. Provincial planning policies within the Greenbelt Plan bring consistency in the approach to preserving farmland, wetlands, forest and water corridors in areas with urban growth pressures.
It is important to recognize The Greenbelt concept has many opponents. The residential construction industry and many farmers are opposed to it in principle because the guidelines have set down parameters that restrict what land can be developed and what land cannot. Both groups view it as limiting control and are looking at the Greenbelt skeptically.
While many municipalities in the GTHA support many aspects of the Greenbelt Plan, they will often allow the expansion of urban boundaries for municipal benefits, which weakens the whole Greenbelt concept. Consequently, there needs to be tight control on what is allowed and what is not, through consistent provincial government legislation across the whole Greenbelt.
It is with this in mind that the government has invited all members of the public to participate in the process by requesting they submit their views on the recently-released provincial recommendations and what additional land should be incorporated into the Greenbelt as well as what services and infrastructure should and should not be allowed in specific areas.
As a member of Concerned Citizens of King Township, it is a given that you are someone who is concerned about the environment that you live in. The maintenance and expansion of the Greenbelt will affect all King residents in the future, as it will all people in south central Ontario.
With this in mind the government is inviting all citizens to submit their views on the future of the Greenbelt by September 30th, 2016. Your submission can reflect your own personal opinions or you can sign a group submission that the OGA has created. To view the OGA group submission go to: growourgreenbelt.ca/action
To access the recently-released recommendations from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs please go to: Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review
The submission needs to be sent to the Honourable Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs and can be sent via e-mail to:
Ministry of Municipal Affairs
17th Floor, 777 Bay Street