• BIG NEWS: The wait is over! The province has announced its proposed changes to the Greenbelt Plan, as part of the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review.


Listen to a recording of our Telephone Town Hall


On Monday October 20th we hosted our second annual Telephone Town Hall.

From 7pm to 8pm we had a live conversation and answered questions about the Greenbelt's watersheds and the importance of protecting urban river valleys, with more than 8,000 people joining us!

This year's Town Hall was hosted by our Program Director, Shelley Petrie, our Director of Public Affairs, Sarah Petrevan and two special guests -- Deborah Martin-Downs, Chief Administrative Officer of Credit Valley Conservation and Franz Hartmann, Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

It was an lively and informative conversation. Listen to it in full below.




October 2014 Newsletter

October 2014 Newsletter

October was a big month for us.

This month's newsletter features:

  • Our new Niagara Office
  • Our CEO's thoughts on our Annual Report
  • Tips for the last days of fall
  • And more... !

The Greenbelt Foundation's new Niagara office



The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation has a new Niagara office.

It’s an exciting time. We’re tapped into a great community and we’re here on the ground in one of the Greenbelt’s most specialized agricultural regions.

Niagara is the core producer of the province’s tender fruit and the anchor of the VQA and Ontario wine industry. It's also one of only two designated specialty crop areas in the Greenbelt (the other is the Holland Marsh). Fun Fact: More than 80% of Ontario’s acreage in tender fruit is found in the Greenbelt - the vast majority of that acreage in Niagara.

Niagara's also home to some of Canada's most diverse natural landscapes. It's got a bit of everything - from wetlands, to waterfalls, to wildlife habitats.

A lot of work goes into to protecting and supporting Niagara's agricultural land and its ecologically sensitive areas. At the Greenbelt Foundation we know that many, many, Niagarans are engaged in that project. We want to make sure we're doing our best to support them - so we got ourselves an office space and moved on in!

It’s still early days for us here – but you’ll be hearing much more from the Niagara team in the weeks and months ahead.

In the meantime, Robin Garrett, director of the new regional office, has been busy setting up shop.

We asked her to give us the rundown of what she’s been up to so far.


Make the most of the last days of fall


It's almost November - have you been to a pumpkin patch yet?

Fall may be winding down, but it's not over yet. 

If you haven't packed in enough pumpkin patches, apple orchards, or corn mazes - don't fret. There's still time!

Here are some tips from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation for making the most of the Halloween weekend. 

The Halton Pumpkin Trail Guide

If you're anywhere in or around Halton check out the online Pumpkin Tail Guide

The Trail Guide, released by the Regional Municipality of Halton for the second year-in-a-row, is a cheat sheet of every autumn activity in the area. The self-guided map tells you what's going on and how to get there. 

"People should absolutely make the most of the season this weekend," Halton's Tourism Specialist Nancy Field told me when I called to ask about the Guide.

"Farmers' Markets and farms are still open and it's going to be a great weekend. Halloween weekend is such a great time to be exploring what the Trail Guide has to offer."

And while the pumpkin map is certainly full of pumpkin picking locals, it's also got a bunch of other great events listed. So even if your pumpkin's been picked and carved - there's still tons to do. Go apple picking at Chudleigh's Apple Farm, take a stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens, or catch a puppet show and wagon ride at Springridge Farm

But if Halton's too far, we've got you covered. Below are some great farms throughout the Greenbelt with events and activities planned for this weekend.


Toronto Star Series: A wrap up


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

For 6 weeks, from September 13th to October 16th, veteran journalist John Barber penned a 6-part article series on all things Greenbelt.

Published weekly in the Saturday paper, Barber’s articles touched on everything from the Greenbelt's agricultural sector, to the state of its urban river valleys, to its ecological, political, and economic future.

Now that it's all wrapped up we wanted to make it easy for all friends to have access to each article in-full. Below we've included downloadable PDFs of each of Barber's 6 pieces. 

The Toronto Star articles have been great for generating conversation about the Greenbelt’s many roles and its ongoing importance to Ontario’s future. Not only have Barber’s stories resulted in surge of signatories to our Greenbelt Pledge they've also generated lively discussions in our ongoing “Tweet-ups”. 

The  “Tweet-ups”, weekly hour-long Twitter conversations we’ve been hosting every Wednesday evening since the series began, use Barber’s articles as a conversation catalyst. We’ve hosted six in total, and each one's been well-attended, face-paced, and a lot of fun.

Check out the Toronto Star pieces. They'll give you a lot to think about. Promise.

Saturday, Sept. 13

Food & Agriculture
Saturday, Sept. 20

Fun and Recreation
Saturday, Sept. 27

Water Resources
Saturday, Oct. 4

* PART 5
Ecology and Preservation
Saturday, Oct. 11

Assessing the Future
Saturday, Oct. 18

 *The current population of the community of Pefferlaw is 2,600 and is forecasted to grow to 3,000 by the year 2031. The October 11 article about wildlife in the Greenbelt mistakenly said the community will grow from 3,000 to 30,000. Current official forecasts estimate instead that Georgina, which contains Pefferlaw, will have a further 23,000 residents by the year 2031.

The Toronto Star issued a retraction to correct this mistake on October 29, 2014. 


Job Posting: Research and Policy Analyst for Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation




Do you have a background in ecology and natural system management? An interest in agriculture, food, and land-use planning? Sophisticated qualitative and quantitative research skills?

The Greenbelt Foundation is looking for someone to join its Research and Policy team. See below for the full job description. We invite applications from qualified candidates by Tuesday, November 4, 2014.


Toronto Star Series: Will Ontario's Future be Green?

Emerald city: The Toronto cityscape rises above the Greenbelt, as seen from Mount Nemo, along the Bruce Trail, 64 km west of the GTA.
Emerald City: The Toronto cityscape rises above the Greenbelt, as seen from Mount Nemo, along the Bruce Trail, 64 km west of the GTA. 

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.

Will Ontario's Future be Green?

Ahead of its 10-year review, the Greenbelt's growth - and legacy - hinges on everyday activism

Main Photo Credit: David McCaig
By: John Barber

Ten years after its inspired inception, the Ontario Greenbelt is a spectacular success, protecting clean air and water, food security, livable communities and biodiversity. A world-leading conservation measure supported by 90 per cent of Ontarians and all political parties, it is universally valued as the essential health insurance for a landscape recuperating after decades of upheaval.

Good news piles up as the time approaches for the scheduled 10-year review of the Greenbelt legislation. In creating mandates for her new government, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made “growing the Greenbelt” a top priority for her new Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ted McMeekin. Municipal leaders throughout the Golden Horseshoe have taken up the call, including expansion of the Greenbelt as a central plank in their election platforms.

Green has never been so rosy in southern Ontario.


Thoughts about our 2013/2014 Annual Report

Our Annual Reports are published in full on our Annual Reports page

Our 2013/14 Annual Report was released earlier this month. The Report, which highlights the work of both the Greenbelt Fund and the Greenbelt Foundation, demonstrates that our 9th year has been a tale of growth and success.

The growth we are seeing with the Greenbelt in our urban river valleys is perhaps one of the greatest highlights of this year. Throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area we are seeing the protection of the world’s largest greenbelt become even more far-reaching and holistic than ever. Every single jurisdiction in talks about including their urban river valleys has continued to push forward.

We are also energized by the ongoing successes of our grantees. One of my favourite stats from this year’s report: for every $1 invested by the Fund, our grantees increase local food sales by $7. 


Toronto Star Series: Where will the wild things go?

Act natural: Paul Harpley, a Georgina resident and naturalist, stands among the trees in the Greenbelt near Lake Simcoe.

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.

Where will the wild things go?

Preserving room for wildlife in the shadow of Greater Toronto a constant struggle

Photo Credit: Aaron Vincent Elkaim
By: John Barber

Looking at most maps of Ontario's Greenbelt, the innocent observer will see a great bulge of protected countryside in its middle – a 4,000 square kilometre tract stretching from Scarborough all the way to the southern shores of Lake Simcoe.

But looking at the detailed map artist and naturalist Paul Harpley unfolds in his office in Georgina, near Simcoe's south shore, a whole new picture emerges. Here green gives way to gray – large blocs of forest and wetland set aside for major urban development. And this is the map that matters.

In *Georgina's Official Plan, the village of Pefferlaw, population 3,000, is slated to grow to the size of Orillia, population 30,000 – and virtually all of that growth will occur in the untouched forests and wetlands of the Greenbelt. Nearby Sutton is slated for similar expansion. Just to the west, residents are fighting a losing battle against the construction of a 500-acre, 1,000-home subdivision in a provincially significant wetland that is likewise part of the Greenbelt but exempt from protection. The barricade of green is riddled with loopholes.


Making it easier to build on-farm developments


How can we make the process easier for farmers to get the necessary stamp of approval for on-farm developments?

That question formed the basis of recent workshop we hosted in collaboration with the Durham Region and the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance.

The September 26th event, “Streamlining the processes for agricultural applications to municipalities and Conservation Authorities (CAs)”, was well attended by farmers, representatives from a range of municipal departments, CA representatives, and staff from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The result was productive information sharing among diverse stakeholders about challenges and opportunities as well as ways to simplify and otherwise improve processes.