Farmers can provide input on proposed Greenbelt expansion
Consultation period open until March
By Kaitlynn Anderson
On Thursday, the Ontario government announced that the public — including the province’s farmers — has an opportunity to voice its opinions on the proposed Greenbelt expansion.
The Greenbelt, which was established in 2005, protects two million acres of land from urban development, according to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
Under the proposal, “the province is considering expanding the Greenbelt to include areas in the outer ring of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, an area that is experiencing significant growth and is under pressure from urban development,” a Thursday release from the Government of Ontario stated.
This proposal could present a mix of benefits and challenges for the province’s farmers.
“Certainly, as farmers, we’re always concerned about protecting the environment,” said Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
“What (the government) is proposing is a way to keep development from encroaching on those sensitive water areas. But we have to look at the big picture and see how this (expansion) is going to affect everyone in the long term.”
Some farmers may be concerned with the proposed restrictions and setback distances under the natural heritage system, which are nearly twice the distance of those recorded in the provincial policy statement, Currie said.
“Doubling (the distances) could potentially create some issues for anyone who may want to expand (or construct new) buildings. Certain farming activities may be restricted in certain areas. So, (the expansion) could potentially be a little problematic that way,” he said.
The seven areas being considered for expanded coverage under the Greenbelt, according to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, are:
- The Waterloo and Paris/Galt moraine
- The Orangeville moraine
- Several small moraines along the brow of the Niagara Escarpment in Dufferin and Simcoe counties
- The Oro moraine
- The Nottawasaga River corridor
- Coldwater streams and wetlands west of Minesing in Dufferin and Simcoe Counties
- Coldwater streams, wetlands and sand and gravel areas in southeast Simcoe County
The OFA encourages farmers to review the proposal. Producers can provide feedback by any of the five methods:
Ministry of Municipal Affairs
Provincial Planning Policy Branch
777 Bay Street, 13th Floor
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5
The public can provide feedback until March 7, 2018.