Canada's Condominium Magazine
The Ontario government today announced more details concerning the pending review of the province’s greenbelt laws. It is the tenth anniversary of the Greenbelt Act, 2005, which created the “largest permanently protected greenbelt in the world,” the announcement says. The act protects farmland, green space and clean water. Public consultations will be held around the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the Greenbelt area, in the form of town hall meetings, and the public will be able to comment through an online Environmental Registry, or by directly contacting the ministry. The Municipal Affairs Minister, Ted MeMeekin, said that the government was not looking to make major changes to the greenbelt laws, which include four separate plans, and in fact wanted to grow the greenbelt.
Former Toronto mayor David Crombie, the “tiny perfect mayor” of the 1970s, will head the advisory panel of experts in the consultation phase to develop recommendations on how to amend and improve the various greenbelt plans, one of which is the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The panel members represent key stakeholder groups including agriculture, conservation, the homebuilding industry, and city planning.
The Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) issued a statement today saying that it joins the government in celebrating the tenth anniversary of the greenbelt and “the award-winning Growth Plan.” Taking a decidedly positive stance, OHBA president Joe Vaccaro said, “We are not here to fight the Greenbelt. We are looking forward to working with the government during the review to improve the quality of life and affordability for families living in Ontario.” The industry will be pleased to offer its insight into “the successes and challenges” that have come about since the greenbelt plans were implemented. The industry has “positive ideas” on how to make the Growth Plan work for Ontario families and for the province.
The home building industry has been critical of government land use policy in the past decade, often saying that the policy has restricted the amount of land available for housing, and that this is helping to drive prices higher than home buyers can afford.
The OHBA says it will present “evidence-based recommendations” to support new housing supply and employment opportunities, while protecting “significant environmental features.” The industry, the statement says, contributes over $42 billion to the Ontario economy and employs more than 325,000 people in the province.
The Greenbelt extends 325 kilometres from the eastern end of the Oak Ridges Moraine, near Rice Lake, to the Niagara River in the west. The Greenbelt includes land protected by the Niagara Escarpment Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, and one million protected acres known as Protected Countryside.