DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
DURHAM: The Ontario provincial government is looking to grow and expand the Greenbelt.
On Wednesday, February 17th, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark announced the provincial government has launched a 60-day consultation process on whether, and by how much, they should expand the Greenbelt. The Greenbelt is a protected area, which currently includes 800,000 hectares of land in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The Greenbelt also contains 21 urban river valleys and wetlands.
A provincial press release explains, this could “help protect more of the province’s natural environment – including farmlands, forests, wetlands and watersheds – from future development,” and the consultation process could lead to “the largest expansion of the greenbelt since its creation in 2005.”
“In our latest budget, we made a commitment to grow the Greenbelt. Today, I am proud to announce our government is making good on that commitment. Our government, together with all Ontarians, is embarking on a once in a generation opportunity to protect some of the most ecologically important lands in our country,” Minister Clark said, during a press conference.
Some of the proposed additions include “increasing the Greenbelt’s footprint into high density urban areas, including the areas around the Don River in Toronto and land around Duffins Creek in Ajax and Pickering” and adding the Paris Galt Moraine.
“This is truly a unique opportunity to preserve more of our farmlands, forests, wetlands and watersheds. But we need your help. That’s why we’ve launched a 60-day online consultation [process],” Minister Clark stated.
In a statement, the Greenbelt Foundation said they welcome the announcement and “look forward to working with the Government and key stakeholders” on this vision of growth.