Ontario has launched a public consultation on further expanding the province’s Greenbelt. The province is considering expanding the Greenbelt to include regions in the outer ring of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which is one of North America’s fastest-growing regions. By 2041, the region’s population is expected to reach about 13.5 million.
The recent review of four land use plans for the Greater Golden Horseshoe highlighted the importance of protecting water resources in the region. The hydrological systems under consideration provide high-quality drinking water, manage wastewater and stormwater, sustain plants and animals and support climate change relief including reducing flood risks.
“I commend the government for taking action to protect these important water systems that are facing increasing stress from urban expansion,” said David Crombie, Chair of Advisory Panel for the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review, in a press release. “I look forward to permanent protection for these critical ecological and hydrological areas so we may continue to enjoy the many important services they provide.”
The public, municipalities, conservation authorities, stakeholders and Indigenous communities and organizations are invited to comment on a study area for potential Greenbelt expansion. The consultation includes seven areas most in need of protection, including moraines, cold water streams and wetlands located in the outer ring of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. This area also includes valuable water resources that communities rely on for their water supply.
The province’s Greenbelt permanently protects about 810,000 hectares of green space, farmland, communities, forests, wetlands and watersheds. In 2017, approximately 10,000 hectares were added to the Greenbelt, including 21 new urban river valleys and associated coastal wetland areas that connect to Lake Ontario.