The Ontario government says it is looking to expand the greenbelt to include the Paris Galt Moraine as well as areas surrounding the Don River in Toronto and Duffins Creek in Ajax and Pickering.
“These lands are home to critical groundwater resources that provide drinking water for many communities,” Housing Minister Steve Clark said while announcing the Ford government’s plan on Wednesday morning.
He says the government will consult with the public over the next 60 days before making a decision on how it will expand the greenbelt.
Clark says the proposed expansion will not allow the province to swap out some desirable lands which are part of the current designated protected space.
“This is a plan that doesn’t take existing land out of the greenbelt,” he said. “It doesn’t allow for land swaps. It doesn’t change any of the policies that the previous government put into place when the greenbelt was created in 2005.”
Clark was asked whether the current protections needed to be strengthened to fully protect the greenbelt but he sidestepped the question.
“The Paris-Galt Moraine provides a tremendous opportunity for our government,” Clark said. “And I really hope that over the next 60 days that interested parties that feel the way I do, that our government has a great chance to do something again, to use the words once in a generation for the benefit of Ontarians.”
The moraine, which extends from Caledon to the Paris-Brantford area is home to critical groundwater resources.
It is about 130 km long and spans as wide as 11 km at certain points.
Green Party Leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner said in a statement that the expansion will not cover up Premier Doug Ford’s agenda of “environmental destruction.”
Among other things, Schreiner pointed to the recently announced GTA West highway that would run through the greenbelt.
“Greens will continue to work hard to expand greenbelt protections, and we will continue to oppose reckless and irresponsible developments that destroy wetlands, forests and farmland,” Schreiner said.
The province created the greenbelt in 2005 to protect agricultural and environmentally sensitive lands in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area from development.