Focus on housing affordability and the Growth Plan

As the feedback period for the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review drew to a close, discussion of housing affordability, land supply, the Growth Plan, and building complete communities has heated up. 

Visualizing-Density.jpgPhoto in the Visualizing Density series by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs

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Home, sweet costly home: Toronto's housing debate featured in the Toronto Star

On Saturday, October 22, issues around housing affordability and growth in the GTA were front and centre in a two-page feature in the Toronto Star. If you missed the print edition, catch up on your weekend reading with this in-depth look at how our region is growing.

The second story, "Home sweet, costly home - a pricey debate," looks at the variety of factors contributing to the GTA's hot real estate market, and makes international comparisons.

2016-10-22-Greenbelt-Foundation-TorontoStar-P2.jpgpdf-icon.png  View a PDF of the article

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A bold vision for the Golden Horseshoe featured in the Toronto Star

On Saturday, October 22, issues around housing affordability and growth in the GTA were front and centre in a two-page feature in the Toronto Star. If you missed the print edition, catch up on your weekend reading with this in-depth look at how our region is growing.

The first story, "A bold vision for the Golden Horseshoe," explores the vision the Growth Plan imagines for the region, and the benefits of realizing that vision, including better transit and lower greenhouse has emissions. 

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pdf-icon.png  View a PDF of the article

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Toronto Star Series: A wrap up

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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.

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PART 1
Introduction
Saturday, Sept. 13

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PART 2
Food & Agriculture
Saturday, Sept. 20

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PART 3
Fun and Recreation
Saturday, Sept. 27

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PART 4
Water Resources
Saturday, Oct. 4

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* PART 5
Ecology and Preservation
Saturday, Oct. 11

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PART 6
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. 

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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.

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Toronto Star Series: Where will the wild things go?

Trees
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.

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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: Massive bike route to showcase Ontario’s green space

 GB Route Map

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

 Food Infograph

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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Toronto Star Series: How green is the municipal election landscape?

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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.

Toronto Star Series: How green is the municipal election landscape?

by John Barber

Twenty years ago I attended a presentation in Toronto given by an eminent Dutch policy maker on his country's Groene Hart or Green Heart, a huge swath of open countryside hemming in the booming cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, protecting by iron decree the landscape of Rembrandt in the very thick of the most densely populated region of Europe's most densely populated nation.

I wondered aloud whether a similar initiative might one day rescue the rapidly receding countryside surrounding our own Golden Horseshoe.

“No,” the expert replied without hesitating. “It is not possible.” He knew the local ground as well as anyone, and during those dark days nothing was more sacred in Ontario than the right to sprawl. We all nodded our heads in sad agreement.

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