Tales from Niagara is a blog series focused on the people and places that make Niagara’s Greenbelt great. The series will cover everything from local businesses, to seasonal events, to life on Niagara farms. Look out for our upcoming posts to stay up-to-date and informed on exciting going-ons in Niagara's Greenbelt.
From March 25 to May 28, the province of Ontario is holding a Coordinated Review of the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, the Niagara Escarpment Plan, and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
In preparation of the April 15 meeting in St. Catharines, we're listing the top ten reasons Niagarans should have their say on the future of the Greenbelt. Get out to the Town Hall and be part of the conversation about Ontario's future!
Ten reasons for Niagarans to participate in the Greenbelt Review
1. Local food matters!
Local food is important to Niagara residents! From our farmers’ markets to our kitchens, from our farms to our plates – local food is more than just a movement, it’s a way of life. Niagara-grown ingredients are even finding their way into the menus of some of the region’s health care institutions. It’s good for our health, it’s good for our local economy, and it’s good for our planet. Get out to a consultation to have your say on how a protected Greenbelt can continue to help provide nutritious food for all Niagarans.
2. Sustainable and livable communities
Taken together, the province’s four land-use plans--the Greenbelt Plan, the Growth Plan, the Niagara Escarpment Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan--encourage smart municipal and regional planning. For Niagarans this means more livable communities where we can walk to work, school, and local food markets. A strong Greenbelt means smarter communities and better quality of life. And remember, densification doesn’t have to mean high-rises! It just means making better use of the space we already have!
3. Increased and improved local and regional transit
As communities grow more compactly and efficiently they are better able to support rapid transit options – something the vast majority of Ontarian’s want! Efficient development also supports regional transit like the GO Train – a important option for Niagarans commuting and traveling throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
4. World-class wineries and prime grape and tender fruit agriculture land
Did you know that Niagara is one of only two designated specialty crop areas in the Greenbelt (the other being the Holland Marsh)? Due to unique soils and the distinct microclimates created by the sheltering effect of the Niagara Escarpment, Niagara is the home to some of Canada’s most prized agricultural land. Niagara is the core producer of the province’s tender fruit and the anchor of the VQA and Ontario wine industry. Each year Niagara’s a vibrant agricultural industry produces bountiful harvests of peaches, plums, and cherries. A protected Greenbelt means protection of this important food resource for generations to come.
5. Tourism and excitement in our own backyard
From cheesemakers to sugar bushes to poultry festivals – Niagara boasts distinctive agritourism activities and events for visitors. A strong and effective Greenbelt Plan keeps our farms viable, our natural heritage sites pristine, and our tourism industry strong. Where else but Niagara can you go for a gorgeous hike through some of Canada’s most diverse landscapes, tour world-class wineries, and buy local food straight from the source all in the same day?
6. Employment and a stronger economic future
The Greenbelt assists in creating 23,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the agricultural, tourism, and recreational sectors for local Niagara residents. A healthy Greenbelt helps foster a healthy economy.
7. Take a hike!
Fun fact: The Greenbelt offers over 10,000 km in trails, including the Bruce Trail which runs through Niagara’s Greenbelt. Just look for the Greenbelt Walks signs for the nearest trailhead! Later this year, the 475km Greenbelt Route cycling trail will be unveiled and give cyclists the chance at experiencing the Greenbelt from end to end. For active families and individuals, the Greenbelt has plenty of options to get outside.
8. Assist in protecting vital ecosystems and species-at-risk
Not only does the Greenbelt protect farmland, it also conserves natural environments like the 533,000 acres of lakes, streams, and wetlands which help provide clean water for Ontario residents. The protected greenspace and aquatic ecosystems are also habitat for 78 species-at-risk, some of which can be found here in Niagara.
9. Climate services
Keeping Greenbelt forests protected will help offset the equivalent of 27 million cars driven in one year. The Greenbelt’s natural heritage system will continue to mitigate the effects of climate change, and improve the health of the air and environment for future generations in Niagara.
10. Be part of a lasting legacy
As an internationally recognized achievement in agricultural and environmental conservation, the Greenbelt protects almost 2 million acres of productive agricultural and environmentally sensitive land. Be part of a lasting legacy by taking part in the conversation about the Greenbelt's future so it continues to permanently benefit us, our family, and our friends.
--Communications Assistant, Niagara Region