The Greater Golden Horseshoe area is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in North America. By the year 2031, the population of this region is expected to grow to 11.7 million people. Urban development in recent decades in our region has been characterized by low-density, automobile-dependent construction on the far edges of city centres.
The Greenbelt is, in many ways, also a water belt. It protects the headwaters, valleys and tributaries of numerous streams and rivers and contains important groundwater reserves, particularly in the Oak Ridges Moraine. Developments and quarries can deplete or contaminate groundwater supplies. Protecting these water sources is one of the most important roles performed by the Greenbelt.
Nature shouldn’t be a distant place or even a long drive. The Ontario Greenbelt protects forests, wetlands and lakes and streams. There are parks and trails in the Greenbelt where we can hike, picnic, swim and more. These places help us get away from the and bustle and provide places close to home where we can explore the wonderful natural heritage of Ontario.
Southern Ontario has lost much of its agricultural land, mostly due to urban sprawl. Over 2,000 farms and 150,000 acres (61,000 ha) of farmland in the GTA alone were lost to production in the two decades between 1976 and 1996. The Greenbelt protects our agricultural land base, essential to farming while sustaining a local food economy and ensuring Ontarians’ have access to fresh, local food.