2015 is a very important year for Ontario’s Greenbelt. That’s because this year the Ontario Greenbelt Plan is being reviewed, and the review process and outcome will determine the next 10 years of this protected landscape.
From March 25 until May 28, the province of Ontario is reviewing its four land use plans. The public is asked to take part in the review of the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, the Niagara Escarpment Plan, and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Having attended many of these consultations, there is no doubt that Ontarians want their voices to be heard. From Toronto to Owen Sound, and from Kitchener to Peterborough, residents from across Southern Ontario have something to say about this protected landscape. Whether urging for more protection, looking for changes in urban planning, or speaking from personal experience, everyone has their say.
And every voice matters.
Whether you want to speak about protection of water and natural lands; whether you’re concerned about infrastructure and sprawl; or whether you want more delicious, local food on your plate, these are impactful engagements that you can be part of.
The Greenbelt has provided Ontarians with access to local food and recreational opportunities. It provides fresh air for us to breathe and clean water to drink, and protects ecosystems and habitat for species at risk.
There is no doubt that this is a time to celebrate and look back on how much we’ve accomplished. As the world’s largest protected greenbelt, it is an economic powerhouse. Its ecological services are worth $2.6-billion every year, and it provides the equivalent of 161,000 full-time jobs—that’s more employment than the Ontario’s combined fish, forestry, mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sectors.
The Greenbelt is consistently the province’s most popular environmental initiative, garnering support from nine out of 10 Ontarians. This support has made the Greenbelt a success, and I hope this support continues to grow.
This Greenbelt belongs to Ontarians, and it’s our job to protect it.
Join me and thousands of others across the province at your nearby consultation, and have your voice heard. Coffee among friends can turn into 10 more years to celebrate.