The Greenbelt Act was passed by the provincial government in 2005. It permanently protects agricultural resources and encompasses the Oak Ridges Moraine and Niagara Escarpment, providing a band of continuous protection for the three landscapes, totaling 1.8 million acres in southern Ontario.
Significant provincial agricultural areas – such as the Holland Marsh, known as Ontario’s vegetable basket, and 100,000 acres of the Niagara tender fruit and wine area – are included in the Greenbelt Plan area. As a result of these agricultural resources, the Greenbelt is a source of local food and employment. The agri-food industry in Ontario is the largest industry in Ontario, generating $50 billion annually.
As the Greenbelt includes the Oak Ridges Moraine Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan areas, the natural capital of the area is rich in ecological services. Each year, Ontario’s Greenbelt provides an estimated $2.6 billion ecological services, including cleaner air, water filtration, flood control, waste treatment, and natural habitat for birds, bees, and animals. It is no wonder a recent poll found 93 per cent of people in Ontario support the Greenbelt.
The Greenbelt Plan is implemented by municipalities.