Twelve years ago, the government passed the Greenbelt Act in response to pressure from environmental groups to permanently protect vital farmland and natural systems at risk of being paved over for suburban sprawl. Now, over a decade later, as I prepare to leave the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, I am as determined as ever to ensure the Greenbelt remains a successful and permanent feature of the landscape.
It is with great sorrow that I inform you that Dan McDermott—a dedicated, long-time environmental advocate—passed away last week at a Toronto hospital, after battling an illness. Dan was a Greenbelt Foundation grantee with Sierra Club Ontario, and served as a steering committee member for the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. He will be missed by the many people who had the pleasure of working with him over his 30 year career.
Photo courtesy of the City of Vaughan via Ryerson report
The GTHA is having a moment – that’s the finding of a new report out from the Ryerson City Building Institute. The report, “Suburbs on Track”, argues that with $32 billion in new transit spending planned as part of the Big Move, planning policies need to adapt to encourage smart growth along these corridors, especially in suburban communities.
Our IT Manager Jason is a nerd - in the best possible way. He doesn’t seek the limelight or glory; instead he focuses his efforts on ensuring our technological environment works efficiently.
He makes sure every computer is optimized, staff are trained on the software installed, does backup upon backup upon backup, and ensures we are connected at all times.
Land-use policies and growth forecasts are subjects that often lead to yawning, bewilderment and deep sleep. But they’re also central to determining the future of our neighbourhoods, our towns and cities, and our rural areas. It’s a bit like going to the dentist. You may not like it but have to do it.
Photo by Michael Gil via Flickr
Recently Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca suspended the Environmental Assessment for a highway known as the GTA West or “The 413.” The 413 would curve south-west from the 400 at King-Vaughan Road and meet the 407 and 401 roughly at Winston Churchill Blvd. It would have to cross the Greenbelt several times to get there.
One thing you’ll notice about the Greenbelt – whether you’re walking, cycling or driving – is the immense numbers of trees. In fact the Greenbelt is home to an estimated 200 million trees, and they do a lot more than provide a shady place to rest.
The Greenbelt’s forests capture and filter water, absorb air pollution, support crop pollination, and store and sequester carbon. These ‘eco-services’ are worth an estimated $1 billion – and the trees provide them for free.
Photo Credit: Michael Manet
Ontario is fortunate to have a landscape and ecology that sustains us with soil to grow our food, with forests to clean our air, and with rugged wilderness to explore. In the Canadian tradition, the land shapes our childhoods, supports our economy and represents our future. The Greenbelt is part of this heritage, building connections between those who grow our food and act as stewards of the land, and those who live in cities nearby.
I am pleased that the Province’s recent announcement on the Land Use Planning Review recognized the value of compact complete communities and green landscape, with recommendations to protect clean water and agriculture, to contain sprawl, and to grow the Greenbelt.
The U.S. Republican primary election is the best entertainment in town. The extreme statements by Donald Trump provide media fodder that is reminiscent of those by former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. The fighting on debate stages is better than any reality TV show. And now GOP elders entertain us with colourful language about the front runner.
But what's really interesting is the commonality between the rise of the unexpected candidates in both parties. Before you think me as crazy as the Donald, hear me out.
On the Democratic Party side, there is Bernie Sanders saying the other candidate is owned by Wall Street and its millions of donation dollars. Sanders is financing his campaign with small donations.That message is playing well for him and has propelled him as a serious threat to Clinton. Young people in particular like that message.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump often reminds his audiences that his campaign is self-financed and that his opponents are in the pockets of lobbyists. That makes him appealing to a large portion of his supporters.
So on both sides of the aisle American voters have tired of the influence of corporate donations. They believe them to be too dominant.
If you like a little fight, you might really love a Sprawl Brawl. The event, held on February 18th in Toronto by Environmental Defence, is a lively discussion that questions: What’s the cure for gridlock in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA)?