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  • BIG NEWS: The Provincial Land Use Advisory Panel has released recommendations on the Greenbelt Plan!

    Find out what they said, why it's important, and how to get involved!

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Celebrating Ontario Agriculture Week 2014

   

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The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is excited to be taking part in Ontario Agriculture Week from October 6-12, 2014. 

Organized by Foodland Ontario with Farm and Food Care, Agriculture Week celebrates Ontario's farmers and the over 200 commodities they produce. 

Throughout the week, we're going to be talking about, thanking, and celebrating the many growers and producers that make Ontario's Greenbelt great.

Whether you're actively involved in the sector or just want to learn more about the food you're eating and its journey from the farm to your plate, we'd love you to be part of the conversation. 

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Agriculture by the Numbers: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages

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Agriculture by the Numbers: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages

The latest study from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation captures the changes in agriculture from 2001 to 2011 and highlights the natural and locational advantages of farming in Ontario’s Greenbelt.

The report, Agriculture by the Numbers: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages, outlines changes in agriculture over time in the Greenbelt, compared to the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Ontario. Using data from Statistics Canada’s 2001, 2006, and 2011 Census of Agriculture, the paper looks at key variables such as number of farms, area farmed, use of farmland, production levels, and farm revenue.   

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Toronto Star Series : Ontario’s vital watershed facing new risks

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Every Sunday from September 14th to October 17th we'll be publishing a Greenbelt-focused article by veteran Toronto Star journalist John Barber. The articles, which will first run in the Toronto Star on the Saturdays preceding our posts, cover a range of topics relevant to the Greenbelt as it exists today, and to the challenges it may face in the future. On the Wednesdays following each of Barber's articles, we'll be using his pieces as a conversation catalyst in an evening Twitter Party from 8pm to 9pm.

Ontario's vital watershed facing new risks

Limiting suburban sprawl is key to preserving crucial water supply

Photo Credit: David McCaig
By: John Barber

Standing amid wildflowers at the edge of a pond deep in Hamilton's Dundas Valley, skirted on three sides by the forested walls of the Niagara Escarpment – and with a curious young raccoon distracting his audience – Alan Hansell runs through a depressing litany of environmental insults. As leader of the Stewards of Cootes Watershed, a group dedicated to rehabilitating the 22 creeks that spill over the escarpment and drain into Cootes Paradise at the westernmost end of Lake Ontario, Hansell wants his small flock of litter-picking volunteers to know what they are really up against.

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Toronto Star Series: This fall we're making headlines and tweeting all about it

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Join us for tonight's Twitter Party! It's on the Funbelt: Natural Areas in the Greenbelt at 8:00 PM EDT. RSVP and follow #ONGreenbelt. 






This fall the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation launched an exciting partnership with the Toronto Star.

From September 13th to October 22nd, the Greenbelt is being featured in a 6-part article and Twitter Party series.

For 6 weeks veteran journalist John Barber is presenting his unique take on a Greenbelt issue. Barber's columns are published in the Toronto Star on the Saturday, they're re-posted on our website on the Sunday. And, this is the best part, each week we're using Barber’s article as a catalyst for a Wednesday evening Twitter Party.

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Prairie Day 2014 : Celebrating the Rice Lake Plains / Alderville Black Oak Savannah

 

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The day dawned grey and overcast on September 20th, 2014 for the 8th Annual Prairie Day at Alderville Black Oak Savanna Ecology Centre, a 30-minute drive north of Cobourg. Despite the ominous weather, the event started off well with a smudging ceremony from the Alderville First Nation, as well as speeches carrying messages of hope and regeneration.

The savanna landscape visible now is a testament to the incredible efforts and collaboration of many groups working as part of the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative: Alderville First Nation, Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation, Environment Canada, and more.

In 2002, the tallgrass prairie ecosystem was a remnant of a formerly thriving, 100,000 hectare vegetation community throughout Southern Ontario. Today, just 3 percent of the original tallgrass prairie and black oak savanna remains, with Alderville a gem in this crucial network of endangered ecosystems. With diligence, care, and cooperative work, the tallgrass prairie here has grown by 150 hectares in the past decade, with an additional 536 hectares secured for future restoration.

This year the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation was proud to join the efforts of the Rice Lake Plains partners through a $52,000 grant to NCC and Alderville First Nation. This grant supports a year’s worth of activities to connect hundreds of Northumberland residents with the Greenbelt in their backyards, including workshops, field trips, trail launches, and landowner stewardship.

The banner event is Prairie Day.

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Toronto Star Series: Massive bike route to showcase Ontario’s green space

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Every Sunday from September 14th to October 17th we'll be publishing a Greenbelt-focused article by veteran Toronto Star journalist John Barber. The articles, which will first run in the Toronto Star on the Saturdays preceding our posts, cover a range of topics relevant to the Greenbelt as it exists today, and to the challenges it may face in the future. On the Wednesdays following each of Barber's articles, we'll be using his pieces as a conversation catalyst in an evening Twitter Party from 8pm to 9pm.

Massive bike route to showcase Ontario's green space: Opening in 2015, proposed route offers Greenbelt's treasures for all cyclists to enjoy

by John Barber

The fun began at Beamsville, which is not something I ever expected to experience in life. But turning left at Lincoln Avenue changed everything.

Until then, our little troupe of cycling pioneers had been bumping along the broken pavement of Old Highway 8 west through Niagara, squeezed between rushing traffic to the left and soft gravel to the right, and not much enjoying the strip-retail scenery one finds on the fringe of just about every Ontario town. But turning left to begin our ascent of the Niagara Escarpment was like riding through a smash cut in an action movie. Beauty erupted.

It was not as if any of us had doubted it: As volunteers helping to test-ride the new Greenbelt Cycling Route before the signs go up next year, we all knew this vision was there. But as I slowly ascended through the undulating, vine-draped bench lands in a damp mist, it was still a shock to me to realize just how vividly there it really was.

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BUILDING ON OUR ASSETS

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*This article originally appeared in the Ontario Planning Journal. Vol. 29, No. 5, 2014. See PDF

 Ontario’s Greenbelt turns 10 next year.

While there are many gains to celebrate, it is also time for the province to begin its legislated review of the three plans that make up the Greenbelt. While any birthday is time for reflection, a 10th birthday is notable and an important time for review.

The Greenbelt Act and Greenbelt Plan were passed with much fanfare in 2005. While there was some loud opposition especially from affected landowners and some municipalities, the plan received significant support from conservationists, planning experts and the public.

Since then the Greenbelt has enjoyed huge public approval. It is consistently the government’s most popular environmental initiative garnering more than 90 per cent support.

Did the 2-million acre Greenbelt live up to its expectations? I suggest an unqualified “Yes.”

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Job Posting: Communications Assistant for Greenbelt Foundation office in Niagara Region

For fresh air, clean water, healthy local food, and a thriving economy with good jobs Ontario’s Greenbelt is the solution. At almost 2 million acres, it’s the world’s largest permanently protected greenbelt, keeping our farmlands, forests, and wetlands safe and sustainable. It extends as far north as Tobermory and stretches 325 kilometres from Rice Lake in Northumberland County to the Niagara River. The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation works to help keep farmers successful, strengthen local economies, and protect and grow natural features.

Ontario’s Greenbelt was established in 2005 under the Greenbelt Act. The Act (Section 10) and Greenbelt Plan (Section 5.6) stipulate that there will be a review of the Plan every ten years to determine:

1. the effectiveness of the policies contained in the Greenbelt Plan; and,
2. whether the Greenbelt Plan should be revised to improve the effectiveness and
relevance of the policies.

NIAGARA REGIONAL OFFICE
The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is opening a Niagara Office staffed by two
people to communicate and engage the community during the 2015 Review. The
Communications Assistant will work closely with the Niagara Regional Director.

 

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Toronto Star Series: Can our fresh food’s journey stay short for long?

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Every Sunday from September 14th to October 17th we'll be publishing a Greenbelt-focused article by veteran Toronto Star journalist John Barber. The articles, which will first run in the Toronto Star on the Saturdays preceding our posts, cover a range of topics relevant to the Greenbelt as it exists today, and to the challenges it may face in the future. On the Wednesdays following each of Barber's articles, we'll be using his pieces as a conversation catalyst in an evening Twitter Party from 8pm to 9pm.

Can our fresh food’s journey stay short for long?

Ontario’s Greenbelt farms produce a great variety and abundance of food, but certainty is not on the menu 

In the second installment of a six-part series, journalist John Barber traces the food trail from the Greenbelt to our plates.

By: John Barber

 The view from the hills near the village of Enniskillen is gorgeous in every direction, and on a clear day from some heights you can see a miniature Toronto glinting romantically in the distance. But every afternoon and morning, the city extends and retracts its tentacles: Streams of cars travelling so close to one another on rural roads that from a distance they resemble metallic segmented worms nefariously strangling the open countryside.

“I've had to wait for 35 cars to pass before I can get out of my driveway,” says local farmer Eric Bowman. At 64, Bowman remembers when the best farmland east of Toronto was Scarborough. But the wave of development that engulfed those fields is now lapping at the edge of his own hilltop farm.

When Bowman finally does get out of his driveway, commuters stuck behind him fume at the pace of his tractor. “They're in a big hurry to get nowhere and I'm in a slow hurry to get somewhere,” the lifelong farmer explains. “I get a lot of one-finger waves.”

As it is on every advancing frontier of the 100-mile city, the pressure on the uplands of Durham Region is relentless: Although the extension of Highway 407 further eastward from Toronto will relieve local roads in the near term, letting Bowman and his neighbours out of their driveways, it has already removed 3,500 acres of top-quality, Greenbelt-protected agricultural land from production in Clarington, the township where they farm. And where new highways go, new development almost always follows.

“That scares me – that everything below 407 could become a city,” Bowman says.

The same week we talked, Durham council adopted a report asking the province to implement the first few dozen of the thousand cuts that will ultimately, inevitably, produce that result. All that's standing in the way is provincial legislation, the Greenbelt Act, which is due to be reviewed in 2015.

“The Greenbelt is so important to protect farmland, green space or whatever you want to call it,” Bowman adds. “But governments change, so things can happen. One signature could end it all.

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Agriculture by the Numbers: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 15, 2014

 

POSSIBILITY GROWS IN ONTARIO’S GREENBELT

New Report Highlights Unique Advantages of Agriculture in the Greenbelt

The latest study from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation captures the changes in agriculture from 2001 to 2011 and highlights the natural and locational advantages of farming in Ontario’s Greenbelt.

The report, Agriculture by the Numbers: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages, outlines changes in agriculture over time in the Greenbelt, compared to the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Ontario. Using data from Statistics Canada’s 2001, 2006, and 2011 Census of Agriculture, the paper looks at key variables such as number of farms, area farmed, use of farmland, production levels, and farm revenue.   

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