Ontario to expand Greenbelt with 21 valleys and 7 wetlands

greenbeltOntario is proposing changes to four provincial plans that shape how land is used in the Greater Golden Horseshoe — Canada’s fastest-growing urban region, the province’s economic engine and the home of the Greenbelt.

Ontario is responding to input from the public and addressing the recommendations of the report “Planning for Health, Prosperity and Growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe: 2015- 2041” from the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review advisory panel, chaired by former mayor of Toronto David Crombie.

Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said: “The changes we are proposing will  promote compact, vibrant communities that support jobs and public transit, and reward us with an expanded Greenbelt. Together, these will be major steps in boosting our economy, furthering smart, sustainable living, protecting our environment and addressing climate change.”

The proposed changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan would:

  • Protect clean water by adding the lands within 21 major urban river valleys to the Greenbelt, along with seven coastal wetlands, and establish a process for further expanding the Greenbelt to protect key water features
  • Require zoning along transit corridors to provide adequate density to support transit
  • Establish Greenbelt-level protections for natural heritage systems – such as wetlands, woodlands and rivers – beyond the Greenbelt, with the provincial government taking a lead in mapping those areas
  • Support agricultural viability and preserve farmland by setting strict requirements for the expansion of urban areas and allowing more flexibility for agricultural use in the Greenbelt
  • Require municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe to integrate climate change policies into municipal official plans and to conduct climate change vulnerability risk assessments when they are planning or replacing infrastructure.

Stakeholders and the public now have a chance to comment on the proposed changes.

  • The Greater Golden Horseshoe is forecasted to grow by around 4 million more people over the next 25 years and will be home to more than 13.5 million people, working in 6.3 million jobs by 2041.
  • Open houses will be held in May and June of 2016 to gather public feedback on the amendments.

Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, said: “People want to live in well-planned areas that meet their needs in a thoughtful way. I thank all who have taken part in this review for helping to shape the balanced changes we are now proposing and I look forward to hearing your views on the proposed changes to the plans.” – CINEWS

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