York Regional Council Decision Proposes to Weaken Greenbelt Protections
October 28, 2021
The Greenbelt Foundation is disappointed that York Regional Council voted today to adopt a regional Official Plan amendment that would downgrade Greenbelt protections and permit uses that undermine natural heritage protections and agricultural activity if approved by the Government of Ontario.
ROPA 7 is a local planning issue that may have region-wide consequences across the Greater Golden Horseshoe. We are concerned that the approval of ROPA 7 is detrimental to Greenbelt lands and may set a regrettable precedent for future decisions.”
Regional Official Plan Amendment 7 (ROPA 7) would change the designation of Greenbelt lands from Agricultural to Rural and thereby permit not just park land but serviced playing fields, golf courses, as well as rural residential, commercial, or industrial uses. These more active uses would entail hard surfaces and infrastructure in sensitive headwater areas and undermine existing agricultural activity.
ROPA 7 is a local planning issue that may have region-wide consequences across the Greater Golden Horseshoe. We are concerned that the approval of ROPA 7 is detrimental to Greenbelt lands and may set a regrettable precedent for future decisions. The approval weakens protections for natural and agricultural systems by broadening the future interpretation of recreational uses in the Greenbelt to include more disruptive infrastructure.
Agriculture is a key contributor to York Region’s economy. This decision is likely to weaken farmers’ confidence in near-urban agriculture over the long-term, despite its importance and strong public support. Greenbelt-dependent economic activity in York Region from primary sectors including agriculture creates 44,521 FTE jobs, $1.4 billion in wages, and $2.03 billion in economic activity.
Weakening Greenbelt protections undermines efforts to combat climate change in near-urban areas. The Greenbelt is a unique and critical asset in Ontario’s effort to address the profound impacts of climate change, including resiliency in the face of extreme weather events, improved stormwater management, and reducing flood risks.
The Provincial government has repeatedly demonstrated its support of existing Greenbelt boundaries and announced its commitment to enhance the scope and quality of its natural and agricultural systems. In our opinion, ROPA 7 runs contrary to this Provincial policy commitment.
The Greenbelt Foundation respects the role of both local and regional planning and generally avoids commenting on individual planning decisions. However, we feel compelled to do so in instances where local decisions may establish precedents that undermine the Greenbelt overall, and negatively impact its natural and agricultural systems. We believe this is one of those instances.
To read the Greenbelt Foundation’s full submission to York Regional Council, please click HERE.
CEO, Greenbelt Foundation
About Greenbelt Foundation:
Greenbelt Foundation is a charitable organization, solely dedicated to ensuring the Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous. We make the right investments in its interconnected natural, agricultural, and economic systems, to ensure a working, thriving Greenbelt for all. Ontario's Greenbelt is the world's largest, with over two million acres of farmland, forests, wetlands and rivers working together to provide clean air, fresh water, and a reliable local food source.
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