TORONTO – An area roughly the size of 800 football fields will be added to Ontario’s Greenbelt.
The Ontario government announced Tuesday that the Oakville Glenorchy Conservation Area will become protected land, marking the first addition since the Greenbelt’s creation in 2005.
Glenorchy is a 400-hectare environmentally sensitive area in northern Oakville that includes hills, forests, creeks, wetlands and the Sixteen Mile Creek valley and gorge.
In addition to protecting the conservation area, the province announced it would double the number of trees planted on the site, to increase forest cover, improve the region’s air quality and create a better habitat for wildlife.
Also announced Tuesday, the province said it has created a new category to protect urban river valleys in the Greenbelt.
Local governments are being encouraged to help grow the Greenbelt. Already, a number of municipalities around the GTA have expressed their interest in expanding the Greenbelt, including Toronto, Mississauga and Guelph.
The government move is being applauded by local environmental organizations.
“Adding Glenorchy to the Greenbelt is a solid first step for growing Ontario’s world-renowned Greenbelt,” said Erin Shapero from
Environmental Defence in a press release.
“The Greenbelt provides millions of Ontarians with clean water, a place for recreation and a working countryside. Growing the Greenbelt will help more Ontarians to enjoy nature without a long drive, support local farmers, and create more sustainable communities.”
Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation echoed that sentiment, saying that “protecting and restoring the Glenorchy lands and creating an urban river valley designation for municipalities represent the right balance for growing the Greenbelt to ensure it is protected and maintained for many generations to come.”
About the Greenbelt
Ontario’s Greenbelt was established in 2005 in order to protect environmentally sensitive land from urban sprawl and development.
It spans 1.8 million acres in southern Ontario. The area includes the Niagara Escarpment, the 160 kilometre long Oak Ridges Moraine and Toronto’s Rouge Park.
It is an area of permanently protected land, wetlands and watersheds.
Through agriculture, tourism and ecosystem service, the value of the Greenbelt is estimated to be $2.6 billion annually.