Have you ever enjoyed the Don Valley ravines or the Credit River in beautiful weather? Do you take the opportunity to enjoy nature, walk with pets, friends, and family in Oakville’s Sixteen Mile Creek, experiencing an oasis away from your busy life? How about canoeing or kayaking along the Humber River, or feeling miles away protected under a tree canopy while birds chirp among you?
In January 2013, the Ontario Government announced the expansion of the Greenbelt for the first time since 2005. It included the Glenorchy Conservation Area expansion of 265 hectares of land, as well as a new "Urban River Valleys Designation". With moments that these natural areas provide, it’s no wonder we want the Greenbelt to keep expanding.
The Designation under the Greenbelt Plan recognizes that river valleys connecting the Greenbelt with Lake Ontario are unique, because they connect the land, the city, and the lake. They provide green space and habitat, flowing water, and provide communities the opportunity to engage in activities and social functions.
In 2013, several of our partners came together to launch Love the Ravines, a campaign inviting Torontonians to explore, enjoy, and protect these natural features. The campaign gets people to experience ravines more, and to understand their benefits, including improvement of air quality, flood water control, and tourism.
Bringing the Greenbelt into cities helps urbanites connect with Ontario’s rural, protected land, connecting them to the Greenbelt. If city dwellers are able to connect to the Greenbelt through their municipalities, we can further ensure long-lasting protection of this great landscape. With more than 75 per cent support from the citizens of Toronto, Mississauga, and Oakville, they are making their voices head.
I often find myself unable to get out of the hustle and bustle of Toronto’s daily grind. So the Humber Valley is where I go most often. I cycle and walk throughout the Valley to get away from busy life. With a connection to the Greenbelt only minutes away, I’m all the more thankful to have the Greenbelt close to home.