Statement on Changes to the Greenbelt

Ontario’s housing needs can and must be met by developing outside of Greenbelt borders.

Dec 19, 2022   •   , Featured

Since 2005, the Greenbelt Foundation has worked to strengthen and enhance the great success story that is Ontario’s Greenbelt. An economic powerhouse and a source of great pride for Ontarians, the Greenbelt provides over $9.6 billion dollars annually to our economy and nearly 178,000 full-time local jobs.  Permanence and certainty are critical to the Greenbelt’s ability to deliver the clean air and water, sustainable local food and recreational opportunities that allow Ontario to thrive.

Ontario’s housing needs can and must be met by developing outside of Greenbelt borders."

The Government of Ontario has recently removed protection from 7,400 acres of land, withdrawing it from the Greenbelt and encouraging urbanization within agricultural and natural heritage areas. While we appreciate the challenge of providing housing for Ontario’s growing population, we will continue to urge local and provincial decision-makers to protect the permanence of the Greenbelt in its entirety.

Ontario is at a crossroads. Our population will see unprecedented growth in the coming years, which makes protection of our water and climate mitigation systems that allow us to build strong communities more important than ever. We need to focus ongoing investment in our natural systems and our agri-food sector to ensure we sustain the very things that make southern Ontario great.

The integrity of the Greenbelt is what has made it a global success story and we must ensure that it remains permanently protected. The lands included in the Greenbelt were carefully chosen and have undergone extensive reviews. Greenbelt protection takes a systems approach to maintaining and enhancing its agricultural, natural and water resources. The connectivity in these systems, once broken, cannot be restored.

These boundary changes remove protections and open land within the Greenbelt to development, a dangerous precedent, which will damage valuable water systems and wetlands that supply ground water, reduce flood risks and improve climate resilience for the nearby communities. It will also, for the first time in our history, result in a significant net loss of available farmland within the Greenbelt. Given that Ontario is losing an average of 319 acres of farmland every day, we cannot afford to lose even more of some of Canada’s most fertile and productive land.

Ontario’s housing needs can and must be met by developing outside of Greenbelt borders. We must ensure that growth needs are accommodated while continuing to strengthen and protect the systems that support our health and our economy.

The true path to success for Ontario is investing in our communities. We must all work together to strengthen our water systems, our local food system, and our precious natural environment while meeting the needs of our growing province by building housing around existing infrastructure like schools and transit.

The strength of the Greenbelt can be directly tied to the strength of Ontario as a place to live, work and invest, and its permanence is key. We will continue to work with our partners, including the Government of Ontario to ensure that this vital resource continues to sustain us for generations to come.

–Edward McDonnell, Greenbelt Foundation CE0

The amendments to Ontario’s regulations can be found here and here.