Greenbelt Benefits

Municipalities have a primary role in protecting and enhancing the Greenbelt, by supporting agriculture, working to restore natural systems, and managing growth in a way to reduce sprawl and prevent inefficient development.

                              We challenge all candidates in the 2018 municipal election to sign the Greenbelt Pledge –                                            a commitment to ensuring permanent protection of the Greenbelt.

Take the Pledge

Greenbelt Benefits for Municipalities

The Greenbelt Plan and Growth Plan are the cornerstones of a provincial policy framework that supports building healthy communities by setting boundaries for development to stop sprawl, contributing to our quality of life, local food economy and protecting natural heritage. 

  • Protecting Farmland and Supporting our Local Food System:Between 1996 and 2001, 16 per cent of farmland in Ontario was lost to development. A staggering number, considering farms in the Greenbelt generate $35 billion in revenue for the agri-food industry, providing local food for farmers’ markets, restaurants and grocery stores. Beyond the Greenbelt, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture estimates Ontario is still losing 100 acres of farmland each day. The Greenbelt ensures Ontarians have access to fresh, local food sources.
  • Connecting our Natural Heritage Systems while Lowering Costs and Liability:The Greenbelt naturally provides $3.2 billion in ecosystem services each year, much of which would require costly and inefficient infrastructure to replace – costs largely borne by municipalities. These eco-services include flood protection by wetlands, water capture and filtration by forested watersheds, air pollution absorption by trees, and climate regulation resulting from carbon storage in trees, plants, and soils. In addition, compact growth off the protected Greenbelt lands saves infrastructure costs and helps keep taxes lower.
  • Protecting Fresh Water: The Greenbelt is the source of water for rivers, wetlands, and lakes, while providing a source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people. By protecting and expanding the Greenbelt we improve water quality.
  • Home to Nature and Close to Home: The Greenbelt is a haven for recreation because of the expansive green space. From hiking, cycling, canoeing and more, the Greenbelt offers the space to enjoy life outdoors, no matter your passion.

Municipalities can protect the Greenbelt’s farmland and natural systems in the long term by meeting or exceeding their Growth Plan targets as they plan to manage future population growth in their upcoming Municipal Comprehensive Reviews and Official Plan Reviews.

Investing and Operating Infrastructure Wisely

In order to thrive, the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) depends on a wide range of infrastructure like transit, cycling, roads, water supply, stormwater management and treatment and energy generation and transmission.

Unfortunately, much of our existing infrastructure is aging. The pace of growth in the region requires investments in transit infrastructure, green infrastructure and renewal of outdated systems to support conservation of water and energy.

Meanwhile, the changing climate is bringing about increases in extreme weather events requiring us to adopt more efficient standards that include life cycle assessment for infrastructure design and operation.

Complete Communities

Building within our existing urban footprint reduces the need to extend costly infrastructure, maximizes use of our existing sewers and roads, provides access to shops and community services and increases the revenue needed for investment in transit. By thinking holistically, we create healthy, prosperous communities, improve air quality and reduce taxes.

Housing Affordability and Equity

Many communities in the GGH are facing issues of housing affordability, which are driven primarily by location preference, lack of affordable housing options, sustained population growth and interest rates. There is a misconception that the Greenbelt Plan affects land prices, which is simply not true. On the contrary, land values are not affected by the Greenbelt and studies show there are many factors contributing to the high cost of housing. Complete communities provide for a range and mix of housing options, including more affordable second units, and rental and co-op housing options near transit stations accommodating a range of household sizes.

Addressing Climate Change

By 2050, we can expect an increase in average summer temperatures ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 degrees Celsius in Southern Ontario and 1 to 4.5 degrees Celsius in Northern Ontario, depending on location. The projected change in winter temperatures is even more dramatic, increasing by 3 to 6 degrees Celsius in Southern Ontario and 6 to 10 degrees Celsius in Northern Ontario, depending on location.

This will have significant impacts on our environment, economy, health and quality of life. For instance:

  • In April 2012 an estimated 80 per cent of the province’s apple crop was wiped out by a late frost. A warmer than average March pushed the growing season ahead leaving apple blossoms vulnerable to cooler weather.
  • On July 8, 2013 the GTA experienced significant flooding after 126 millimetres of rainfall was recorded, exceeding the previous record set during Hurricane Hazel in 1954.
  • In December 2013, an ice storm in Southern Ontario and Eastern Canada resulted in $200 million in insured losses and pushed the 2013 total insured loss from severe weather across Canada to a record of $3.2 billion.

Ensuring GGH Participation in the Emerging Green Economy

In the face of climate change, the most effective way to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced is by transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The emerging low carbon economy is now a growing $600 billion/year revenue opportunity.

The GGH region is well positioned to thrive in a low-carbon context but needs to act now to maximize the potential benefits. While governments at all levels need to put the conditions that will stimulate innovation in place, mobilize investment, enhance market access, and foster talent and skills development, private interests need to drive the process, engage with governments, and play a leadership role in developing a vision for our Region’s low-carbon future.


What you can do

If you’re running for municipal office this October, take the pledge to show your support for better communities.

Take the Pledge