Province finalizes Ontario’s first Greenbelt expansion and new urban river valley protection

Vaughan, ON – The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance applauds today’s announcement by the Ontario government to formally add Oakville’s Glenorchy Conservation Area to Ontario’s Greenbelt.  The province also unveiled its new urban river valley designation as part of the Greenbelt Plan, which will allow municipalities to include rivers and streams in urban areas under the Greenbelt’s protection. 

“These are important announcements. Now even more Ontarians in urban areas will benefit from cleaner air and water and stronger environmental protections for our rivers and streams,” said Gillian McEachern of Environmental Defence. “Adding the Glenorchy lands to the Greenbelt and improving the ways for municipalities to further protect important river valleys in urban areas are vital steps to creating a more inclusive Greenbelt.”

“This is welcome news,” says Toronto Councillor and co-founder of Municipal Leaders for the Greenbelt, Glenn De Baeremaeker. “It’s great to see the government responding proactively to municipal issues and taking a leadership role when it comes to the protection of natural heritage in urban areas.”

The new urban river valley protection under the Greenbelt Act could encourage more municipalities to move forward with Greenbelt expansions. Several municipalities across the GTA have expressed interest in growing the Greenbelt, but until now there were issues with moving forward. The new designation allows municipal policies that protect nature to override the Greenbelt Plan when they are stronger then the Plan. This will help prevent incompatible activities in urban river valleys, such as aggregate extraction or other activities never intended for these sensitive areas.

The Ontario Greenbelt permanently protects 1.8 million acres of green space and farmland across Southern Ontario. Along with providing recreational opportunities and local food production, the Greenbelt helps curb unsustainable development across the GTA. Poorly planned development makes traffic worse, threatens fragile ecosystems, waterways, and contributes to global warming. 

ONTARIO GREENBELT ALLIANCE (http://www.greenbeltalliance.ca): The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is a diverse multi-stakeholder coalition of close to 100 organizations who share a common vision for protecting and expanding the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. Environmental Defence is the coordinator of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance.

Pictures of the Glenorchy Conservation Area can be downloaded here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/environmentaldefence/sets/72157632055340685/

To see a video of the Glenorchy Conservation Area: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAYZMT_AN1A

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For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 647-280-9521 (cell), skohls@environmentaldefence.ca

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, City of Toronto, 416-392-0204, councillor_debaeremaeker@toronto.ca