We're celebrating the Ontario Greenbelt's 9th birthday today. And there's a whole lot to celebrate.
Ontario’s Greenbelt protects prime farmland, countryside, and green spaces from urban sprawl. At just over 1.8 million acres, Ontario’s Greenbelt is the largest greenbelt in the world. And it’s growing!
In the past two weeks, Oakville, Mississauga and Toronto have all given the Greenbelt fantastic birthday presents. All three have passed motions to add urban river valleys to the Greenbelt and move forward with protecting nature in their communities to the highest possible standard. These are big birthday presents indeed.
Urban river valleys are the new frontier for the Greenbelt protective policies and this is possible thanks to the province’s urban river valley designation, which allows municipalities to request adding public land along their waterways into the Greenbelt while allowing their own environmental protection policies to apply. This adds a further layer of protection for urban river valleys. By protecting our urban rivers and streams, we’re protecting the source of our drinking water.
Here are details about these gifts for the Greenbelt:
- On February 10, 2014, the Town of Oakville gifted the Greenbelt a unanimous resolution to grow the Greenbelt by adding more protected lands along Fourteen Mile Creek, south of Upper Middle Road and the QEW. The resolution was presented to Halton Region’s council meeting and approved. Next, the request goes to the Province for final approval.
- On February 12, 2014, Mississauga council passed a motion under its Natural Heritage Strategy to grow the Greenbelt into the city’s Credit River and Etobicoke Creek river valleys, the first municipality to make this move since the province enacted protections for urban river valleys under the Greenbelt Act.
- On February 21, 2014 (last Friday), Toronto city council showed it loves the ravines by voting to continue the process for adding public lands in the Don, Humber and Etobicoke Creeks to the Greenbelt’s protective fold. Places like the Evergreen Brick Works could one day be part of the Greenbelt.
We’re thrilled by these local efforts to grow the Greenbelt. Urban river valleys are unique treasures. They are our cities’ backyards, green spaces where we can reconnect with nature. It’s wonderful that municipal governments are seeing the value of adding their urban river valley lands to the greater Greenbelt and ensuring that rivers and streams are connected to their source waters and Lake Ontario.
These bold steps to grow the Greenbelt aren’t just presents for the Greenbelt. They’re presents to the people of Oakville, Mississauga and Toronto, who will gain new ways to connect directly with Ontario’s Greenbelt, which provides us with clean air, protects our drinking water, gives us access to local food sources and offers a wide range of recreational opportunities.
As the Greenbelt celebrates its 9th anniversary, we think it’s no coincidence that the number 9 symbolizes leadership, wisdom and responsibility, and that its ultimate goal is to make the world a better place to live in. Municipal leaders have shown leadership, wisdom and responsibility in working to grow the Greenbelt. And Ontario is a better place to live in thanks to the Greenbelt, which protects our green spaces and prime farmland from urban sprawl.
Wondering how to celebrate the Greenbelt’s birthday? Today, we’ll be at a skating party in Mississauga and you’re invited. Join in the fun as we lace up our skates and sip hot chocolate.
And, this weekend celebrate by visiting the Greenbelt near you. There are lots of options for winter adventures in the Greenbelt, from skating, to skiing, snowshoeing, walking along a trail or sipping some cider or wine.
Happy 9th birthday Greenbelt!