December 15, 2017
The Province has announced public consultations to consider expanding the Greenbelt to protect important water systems that are facing pressure from urban growth and climate change.
What we heard from communities during the Greenbelt Review was significant concern about ensuring access to a sufficient supply of clean water necessary for the prosperity and vitality of the Greater Golden Horseshoe region.
The creation of the Greenbelt in 2005 stopped the loss of valuable farmland and important natural features in the region but also laid the foundation for protecting vital water resources. Ongoing urban growth and the effects of climate change are however continuing to increase the strain on water systems.
The recent Provincial announcement identified wetlands, streams, rivers and moraines in communities to the west and north of the existing Greenbelt (Brant County, Waterloo, Guelph-Wellington, and Dufferin and Simcoe) for potential Greenbelt protection. Over 1 million new residents are expected to live in these areas by 2041, and they will rely on the groundwater supplies fed by these water sources.
We encourage all Ontarians to express their views on the proposed expansion “study areas” during the Provincial consultation process, which will conclude on March 7, 2018. Details about the process and study area can be found here.
Based on overwhelming public support, the Province added 21 urban river valleys and 7 coastal wetlands to the Greenbelt through the Review process in 2017. While an important start, the additions left out larger, more significant water systems that over 120 community groups have advocated be protected by the Greenbelt. The study area for this new round of consultations has been informed by the work of these groups, and you can learn more at protectourwaters.ca.
Fresh water supply is the foundation of any healthy community. Without clean, abundant water supplies we will not be able to support a strong economy, vibrant rural communities, and healthy natural systems. The Greenbelt is the right tool to protect this vital resource for all Ontarians.
-- CEO, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation