In fairness it may not be paradise, but the Greenbelt is some of the only protected green and agricultural space that the ever expanding Greater Toronto Area has left.
Last week the government announced that it is starting construction on the proposed eastern expansion of the 407. The expansion and the connector to the 401 will cut directly into the Greenbelt.
Here is the issue: On one hand the government creates legislation that designates the land within the Greenbelt as preserved in perpetuity. It wants this land to be protected because it contains environmental features that are essential to the well-being of people living in and around the GTA.
They say so themselves:
“(The Greenbelt Plan) Gives permanent protection to the natural heritage and water resource systems that sustain ecological and human health and that form the environmental framework around which major urbanization in south-central Ontario will be organized.” (The Greenbelt Plan 1.2.1)
But then with the other hand they throw a highway on it.
Wait a second. Didn’t we all just agree that the Greenbelt is essential to sustaining the well being and health of the communities and people around the GTA? How does throwing a highway directly on a fragile watershed and prime agricultural land not breach the purpose of the Greenbelt?
Well maybe we can all rest assured that at least it is just a highway – a relatively thin line on a map and not another poorly planned sprawling community like those we are seeing leapfrogging over the Greenbelt.
It does make you wonder though - just where is that highway going?
A highway isn’t simply a consequence of sprawl, it actually helps it along. More highways mean more sprawl, worse traffic and less nature.
Sure, the 407 expansion is only a small piece of the Greenbelt that will be chewed up and lost forever - but much like that piece of cake you just keep picking away at, eventually there will be nothing left.
Heather Harding - Program Manager