Stories From the Greenbelt: Ontario’s Greenbelt as a Community of Support

For this month’s Stories from the Greenbelt to celebrate 19 years of the Greenbelt, we caught up with Cheryl Weldon, Director of Community Relationships & Partnerships, who shared her story of growing up in the Greenbelt both before and after it’s inception. She discusses what that community means, and how it has impacted her work running the Foundation’s development department.

Mar 05, 2024   •   Featured , News

Everybody's Backyard: The Greenbelt as a Community of Support

 Written by Cheryl Weldon, Director of Community Relations & Partnerships at the Greenbelt Foundation. 

February 29th, 2024

In the 19 years since its inception, a lot has changed about the Ontario Greenbelt, but one thing has remained the same- its importance for the communities that live, work and grow within it. We know that the Greenbelt provides 2 million acres of protected land that provide us with fresh air, clean water, fantastic local food and drink, and world-class outdoor recreation and tourism experiences.

In the 19 years since its inception, a lot has changed about the Ontario Greenbelt, but one thing has remained the same- its importance for the communities that live, work and grow within it."

I grew up in an area now known as the Greenbelt, in the Town of Lincoln and Grimsby. When you live surrounded by peach and cherry orchards, grape farms and wineries, it's hard to deny how vital the land is. One of the most biologically rich areas in all of Canada, the Greenbelt and specifically the Niagara tender fruit region is one of the most productive fruit growing regions in the world!

Watching this region slowly change through my childhood, and then over the past 19 years has been a fascinating experience. I remember passing farmers' fields to get to school, areas that are now considered some of the most treasured agricultural land in the tender fruit area. When the Greenbelt Plan was enacted, we began to see the preservation and adaptation of that land leading to a robust flourishing of agriculture and industry associated with its protection and preservation.

Tourism has boomed, with the addition of wineries and maintained hiking trails offering this amazing space for recreation and access to nature. Since it became a protected landscape, the industry began to trust in its permanence as a safe place to invest and build their businesses. As more and more people came to visit, live and work, the Greenbelt has become very important for Ontario’s economy.

When the community trusted in its protection, for me that’s where a real sense of pride in it being our home came into play. It’s been a blessing for me to grow up in the same place as multiple generations of my family and spend time with my children in the same places I frequented as a child. We’ve been going to the same spots as a family for years, my mother still hikes the Bruce Trail almost every day! One thing that’s special to my family is not only getting out and enjoying what the Greenbelt provides in the summer but appreciating it in the winter as well. We frequently spend time winter camping, and when the weather affords, also do things like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to experience winter in all its glory!              


As someone who has spent many years exploring the Greenbelt and having worked at the Greenbelt Foundation for nearly five years now, it is easy to say what special places they both are. The Foundation is the only organization solely dedicated to ensuring the Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous. It has an incredible ability to bring people together through shared understanding. For me, it is a place of philanthropy and education- I get to help individuals, corporations, organizations, and communities give back to and participate in strengthening the Greenbelt.

The Greenbelt holds so much value to those that live within it and giving back is an opportunity for a whole range of individuals to find their way to become involved in its future. The communities within the Greenbelt are close-knit and are often a support system for each other, which is important, and the philanthropic contributions we work for allow people to feel part of that community of support.

To continue in our collective work, the Foundation must remain equally as strong as the communities within the Greenbelt. At its heart, the Greenbelt is a mosaic of support, from those who live within it, those who travel to experience it and those who work and contribute to its growth and success. Nearly one in four Canadians reside within a 20-minute drive of some part of the Greenbelt, and the Foundation and its many supporters have an opportunity to ensure that it's protected and enhanced in meaningful ways.

We are incredibly grateful to all our supporters- your giving matters. Because of your generosity, the Foundation can continue to build on its 19 years as a leader and supporter in the field and the Greenbelt can continue to prosper. If you’d like to contribute to the Ontario Greenbelt you may make a gift here, or sign up for the monthly newsletter for updates on our work.

Happy 19th birthday Greenbelt, my family and the many others in communities across Ontario look forward to the next 19 and beyond!