TAKE ACTION TODAY TO GROW OUR GREENBELT.
March 18th 2017
Greenbelt is still under pressure from powerful lobbying interests.
Ontario's Greenbelt is the solution for fresh air, clean water, healthy local food, active outdoor recreation, and a thriving local economy. At nearly two million acres, it’s the world’s largest, permanently protected greenbelt, keeping our farmlands, forests, and wetlands safe and sustainable. But more precious farmland, water resource systems and natural heritage systems still need to be included!
Tell the Province you want them to grow the Greenbelt!
Now is a very important time for our Greenbelt - the Greenbelt Plan, along with the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, the Niagara Escarpment Plan, and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, are under official review by the Provincial Government as part of the Coordinated Land-Use Planning Review. The Review process began in the spring of 2015, with public consultations held in your community and across the Greenbelt.
A review advisory panel, led by David Crombie, was created and tasked with producing recommendations for how to improve the effectiveness of these plans, in large part based on what they heard from stakeholders and the public through the spring and summer consults.
For more information about these recommendations please click here.
Let the government of Ontario know that we want a bigger, stronger Greenbelt. There are many ways that you can do this, from super easy to more involved.
Fill in your name and address in this simple online letter at http://www.growourgreenbelt.ca/action
OR Sign online petitions at Environmental Defence:
A BIT MORE EFFORT
We have made a Hamilton-specific letter available here. This is a response to proposed changes to the 4 land-use plans, including the Greenbelt plan, that you can find on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs website.
Land Use Planning Review
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Ontario Growth Secretariat
777 Bay Street, Suite 425 (4th floor)
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5
You can submit your comments through the Environmental Registry Type in #012-7195 and look for Proposed Greenbelt Plan (2016). Feel free to use the Hamilton-specific letter available here. We encourage individuals to submit via the Environmental Registry as this is a more formal way to get your comments registered. Make sure to submit your comments regarding the proposed changes to the 4 land-use plans (including the Greenbelt Plan) before the (extended) deadline, October 31st. The sooner the better!
GREENBELT SHOULD INCLUDE A BLUEBELT
Growourgreenbelt.ca is a collaborative of many groups and organizations that want to see the Greenbelt grown to protect a "Bluebelt" in Simcoe, Wellington, Waterloo, Brant, and Northumberland, as well as headwaters of key urban river valleys. Environment Hamilton is a member (we want all our urban river valleys included in the Greenbelt).
They have a sample letter to Minister Mauro that you can use: http://www.growourgreenbelt.ca/action
SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
If you are on social media, please consider pumping out the message to grow our Greenbelt:
ENVIRONMENT HAMILTON SUBMISSION
Environment Hamilton will be preparing our comments for submission and will share here shortly.
Growth Plan and Greenbelt Plan: How they interact to manage growth in the GGH.
Monday, October 17th @ 7pm. Hamilton Public Library, Central Location.
This is a public lecture with guests from the Neptis Foundation. Stay tuned for details.
Please continue to check the website for regular updates and events.
Contact Beatrice at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 905 549 0900
Thursday, October 6th, 2016.Hamilton: Today the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance (OGA) released a map revealing more than 650 requests to the Province by developers and municipalities in Hamilton, York Region, Toronto and area, to take land out of the world-renowned Greenbelt.
“Every Ontarian who values the local food, clean drinking water, forests, rivers and wildlife supported by the Greenbelt should be very concerned,” said Beatrice Ekoko from Environment Hamilton. “This new map makes it clear developers, bolstered by misguided municipalities, see the Greenbelt as a target for sprawling subdivisions."
The map pinpoints only one-third of the 650 requests made by developers and municipalities to remove protected lands from the Greenbelt and make them available for urban sprawl. Although a fraction of the total requests, the portion mapped is almost 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres).
The map also shows the existing towns and villages in the Greenbelt - including Binbrook - that could be ringed with more sub-divisions if developer-friendly changes to the Greenbelt Plan recommended by the province proceed.
“Developers and municipalities don’t need more land, especially in the Greenbelt,” said Ekoko.“They already have a huge amount of land available to build on in the Greater Golden Horseshoe - enough to cover the City of Toronto 1.5 times.” According to a recent Neptis Foundation report, there is already an excess of land - 107,000 hectares of it - designated for growth to 2031, and likely beyond. Neptis Foundation ED, Marcy Burchfield will be in Hamilton on October 17th, offering more details. Visit www.environmenthamilton.org for information.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16th, 2016
Environment Hamilton urges community action against City Council’s ongoing push for removal of prime agricultural land from Ontario’s Greenbelt
Hamilton—The City of Hamilton continues to push for the removal of prime agricultural land – including specialty crop land – from Ontario’s Greenbelt.
At this week’s City Council meeting, the majority of council members supported over three-dozen objections/recommendations from staff regarding provincial recommendations emerging out of the 10 Year review of Ontario’s Greenbelt Plan, Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Niagara Escarpment Plan.
Included in the list are on-going objections from the City to the Province’s refusal to support the removal of a number of parcels of land from the Greenbelt – including two large chunks of specialty crop/ tender fruit lands in lower Stoney Creek.
“We think the city’s on-going push to reduce the Greenbelt in these areas is not acceptable” said Beatrice Ekoko, coordinator of Environment Hamilton’s Grow the Greenbelt Campaign. “To be eliminating prime agricultural land from our Greenbelt when climate change and food security issues loom large on the horizon is irresponsible!” according to Ekoko.
Environment Hamilton is pushing for the province to add more prime agricultural land and natural areas to the Greenbelt.
The province has also overlooked Hamilton where our urban river valleys are concerned. As Ekoko notes, “While the lower stretch of Fifty Mile Creek has been proposed for greenbelting, a number of other significant urban river valleys like Red Hill Creek have been ignored and should be included!”
Environment Hamilton also believes that there should be open and intensive community dialogue around future uses in Hamilton’s ‘whitebelt’ – the rural lands wedged between the urban boundary and the Greenbelt. Whitebelt land is primarily prime agricultural land. Hamilton has about 5200 hectares of whitebelt (most sports fields are one hectare in size).
As the deadline for public input to the plans draws closer (October 31st), Environment Hamilton continues to urge Hamiltonians in telling the Province to stand firm on its recommendations and go further by growing the Greenbelt.
Read our latest article in thespec.com. Too many communities left out of the Greenbelt. July 17th, 2016.
Greenbelt Awareness Summer Bike Ride: Worth it!
What does it feel like to be left out of the Greenbelt?
This past weekend (August 20th) Environment Hamilton, the Langford Conservancy and Sustainable Brant co-hosted a bike ride from Hamilton to Heart's Content Organic Farmstead in Brantford. The ride served the dual purpose of engaging Hamiltonians in efforts to protect and grow the Greenbelt in Hamilton and to alert people about the critical need to also grow the Greenbelt (almost 2 million acres of protected farmland, water resources and natural heritage systems) into adjacent Brant County/Brantford.
35 individuals took to the rail-trail for the 44 kilometre ride (there and back) from Hamilton to the farm. At the farm, the cyclists enjoyed a hearty lunch of locally grown food, and learned about the issues that communities outside of the protective Greenbelt are dealing with.
“Hamilton is lucky to have most of its rural lands included in the provincial Greenbelt,” Dr. Lynda Lukasik, Executive Director at Environment Hamilton told the audience. “The province is recommending that more of the city’s rural lands be added. We believe that even more can be done to ensure the municipality’s prime agricultural lands and natural areas are protected.”
Lukasik pointed out that there is plenty of opportunity to add more ‘whitebelt’ to our Greenbelt (agricultural land neither in the Greenbelt nor in the built area) and to protect Hamilton’s many urban river valleys—currently only one of which have been proposed for addition, out of 21 others throughout the GGH—helping to encourage more efficient use of land within urban Hamilton.
“But we also know that better protection in Hamilton means more pressure for rural lands on the ‘other side’ of the Greenbelt,” a pressure that is building as a result of leap frogging development--from Greenbelted Hamilton over to Brant County/Brantford.
Heart's Content Organic Farmstead is a beautiful 57-acre farm, right on the Trans-Canada rail trail running from Dundas to Brantford, only a stone's throw from the Greenbelt. They are fighting to be included.
The message throughout the afternoon, was that Ontario's Greenbelt is the solution for fresh air, clean water, healthy local food, active outdoor recreation, and a thriving local economy. It needs to grow in order to permanently protect more of our farmlands, forests, and wetlands.
July, 8th 2016
Dozens of organizations and activists are joining residents calling for a ‘Bluebelt’ to protect water sources for the health and prosperity of the region.
Environment Hamilton is partnering with environmental advocates, agricultural organizations, and community members across the Greater Golden Horseshoe to call for even greater protection of the region’s water resources.
The Province announced in May, as part of the coordinated land use planning review, a proposal to grow the Greenbelt into 21 urban river valleys (URV) and 7 coastal wetlands. Except for one (Fifty Creek), Hamilton’s URVs were not included. Not only do we want these URVs included, we want to go further and protect key areas in need of stronger protection, including:
“Protecting these water resources is vital to the resiliency and prosperity of the Greater Golden Horseshoe,” said Lynda Lukasik, Executive Director at Environment Hamilton “The Bluebelt provides over 1 million people with clean drinking water and we need to take the steps to make sure this precious resource is fully protected.”
This grassroots campaign is building momentum every day, with thousands of residents across the region taking action by writing to Minister for Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro to support the government’s recommendations and urge that the Province grow the Greenbelt.
“We know that 9 out of 10 residents see the Greenbelt as the most significant environmental initiative in Ontario,” said Burkhard Mausberg, CEO Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. “The number one reason these residents give for supporting the Greenbelt is the protection of water resources. Growing the Greenbelt to protect water resources across the region is more of a good thing.”
Supporters are encouraged to join the movement and visit www.growourgreenbelt.ca/action to add their voice to the growing chorus of residents championing growing the Greenbelt in their communities.
About Grow Our GB:
The #GrowOurGB initiative is a coalition between organizations and associations representing more than 120 member groups, and 300,000 members across Ontario. Launched on June 21, the #GrowOurGB Primer, ‘Growing the Green, Protecting the Blue’ is a comprehensive guide to understanding how we can act now to protect water resources for our future. Visit www.growourgreenbelt.ca to learn more and take action.
About the Greenbelt:
Ontario’s Greenbelt is the solution for fresh air, clean water, healthy local food, active outdoor
recreation, and a thriving economy. At nearly two million acres, it’s the world’s largest permanently protected greenbelt, keeping our farmlands, forests, and wetlands safe and sustainable.
June 15th, 2016
We--Lynda and Beatrice--attended the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance meeting (of which EH is a member) at the swanky Old Mill Inn in Toronto, and gained a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed changes to both Greenbelt Growth Plans. We heard very good presentations from Environmental Defence (the Political landscape: Government decisions with Tim Gray), Neptis Foundation (Growth Plan 101 with Marcy Burchfield) and keynote address Mayor Steve Parish (Ajax) that left us feeling energized!
The province has released its recommendations related to the coordinated review of the Greenbelt Plan, Niagara Escarpment Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The recommendations related to the Greenbelt Plan have implications - both good and bad - for Hamlton.
Click here to view Environment Hamilton's press release on the provincial announcement.
Click here to access the details regarding all of the province's recommendations.
Attention Hamilton-area Greenbelt Supporters!
We need you to take action today. Tell the province you do not support the City of Hamilton’s request for significant areas of agricultural/natural land to be removed from the Greenbelt, etc. Instead, Ontario must continue to protect the Greenbelt and choose smarter growth.
The provincial government is currently discussing where and by how much our Greenbelt will grow.
Let’s take this opportunity to remind the provincial government that Greenbelt expansion is critical to protect our agricultural lands, natural heritage systems and water and safeguard our climate! The province needs to stand firm and not give in to municipal demands that land be removed from our precious Greenbelt!
We are inviting you to send the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing a letter, urging him to continue championing Greenbelt expansion and protection.
Help show the widespread support that exists to grow the Greenbelt. The time for you to act is now before the final decisions are made that will shape the future of our Greenbelt.. Please contact your local MPP to let them know that you:
“… want the government to commit to grow our Greenbelt and protect the Greater Golden Horseshoe’s vital prime agricultural lands, heritage systems and water resource areas. The process to grow the Greenbelt should be set with a bold timeframe to map those features and areas.”
Click here for a sample letter.
Click here for our comments concerning the Crombie report of the 4 Provincial land use plans, currently under review.
CALL TO ACTION: Tell Mayor Eisenberger and City Councillors YES to protecting farmland and Growing the Greenbelt in Hamilton
A majority of the city’s Planning Committee has voted to remove lands from the Greenbelt, both tender fruit lands in Winona as well as a last minute 28 ha parcel north of Waterdown. The ratification vote is tomorrow night (Wednesday December 9) at City Council.
Please call or email your councillors and Mayor Eisenberger before that meeting and tell them NO to backward thinking, YES to protecting farmland and growing the Greenbelt.
At a Special Planning Committee meeting on December 3rd, councillors received deeply flawed recommendations concerning changes to the city’s Greenbelt Boundaries, and heard from 23 delegations, most opposed to removals from the Greenbelt.
These staff recommendations included asking the Province to defer any decisions and changes to the Greenbelt Plan boundaries until city planners have completed a Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) first, while at the same time urging councillors to go ahead and remove prime agricultural lands from the Greenbelt ! These lands include:
n the former E.D Smith tenderfruit lands in lower Stoney Creek
n a large block of tenderfruit lands in Winona
n the 28 ha parcel north of Waterdown that was never mentioned during the public consultation
We struggle to understand how planners can justify recommending these parcels of land be removed from Greenbelt, when they have not even done the Comprehensive Municipal Review they are asking for!
Only councillors Aidan Johnson and Matt Green consistently opposed all these removals.
Tell your Councillors:
1. You are strongly opposed to suggestions made by city planning staff to remove lands from the Greenbelt in Hamilton. These are not minor modifications that they are looking at. The province has specifically designated the lower Stoney Creek properties as tender fruit lands that have the highest level of Provincial protection.
2. You want to see farmland protected and urban land used more efficiently as recommended by the recently released Crombie Panel Advisory Report for the Province— that includes 87 recommendations designed to further strengthen the four Ontario land plans currently under review to protect farmland, develop green infrastructure and aggressively increase intensification targets in urban centres. The City of Hamilton is not even meeting density targets within the urban boundary today; higher targets will require more efficient use of urban land less justification for more sprawl.
Again, please call your councillors and the mayor before that meeting and tell them NO to backward thinking, YES to protecting farmland and growing the Greenbelt. Tell them Hamilton deserves better than this!
Grow and Strengthen the Greenbelt: Urgent Call to Action
Hamilton boasts some of the richest prime agricultural land and sensitive natural areas in all of Canada. The Greenbelt helps keep these lands protected.
But this month, the City of Hamilton has embarked on a Greenbelt boundaries review process. They are proposing to remove high value specialty crop farmland and natural system features and lands.
The City has been hosting meetings in rural Hamilton, presenting a “straw man” scenario with city staff’s proposal of what lands might be removed from or added to the Greenbelt, and invited the public to comment on the proposal as well as provide additional input on what changes the city should recommend to the province.
They are also proposing to add some greenlands to the Greenbelt (these are not under development pressure). While we wholeheartedly support appropriate lands be added to the belt (as per the City’s suggestions), we strongly object to the significant changes our city is proposing to Hamilton’s Greenbelt boundary.
There are no more open houses but you can you can still submit your comments to the city by using the workbook the City has provided or by preparing your own written comments on the city's proposals. For either method, send your feedback to email@example.com BY SEPTEMBER 30th.
NOTE that for reasons we do not understand, the city has opted to remove from its website the PDF of the detailed display boards used at the open houses prior to the comment deadline. Thankfully we downloaded this document so you can still access it here.
Please make note of the following observations concerning the City’s proposal:
1. Insufficient evidence has been put forward to justify changes to the Greenbelt boundaries in Hamilton.
The Greenbelt Plan sets out a process for considering modifications to the urban boundaries during the 10-year review period, and that process should be followed. It states that upper or single tier municipalities are required to provide a comprehensive justification or growth management study to support proposed boundary changes. The City of Hamilton has not provided this.
As well, the City is proposing a new set of criteria to apply to lands they have selected for removal or addition to the Greenbelt but criteria (developed by the province) to add or remove land from the Greenbelt already exists.
2. Our precious farmland is being threatened.
The City’s straw man proposal includes removal of three blocks of Tender Fruit & Grape Lands (Specialty crop lands) two below the Niagara Escarpment and one on the upper edge, as well as the removal of prime agricultural lands in upper Stoney Creek. These lands should absolutely remain in the Greenbelt.
**Note: The two blocks the city is pitching for removal in lower Stoney Creek include the former ED Smith lands that used to feature a large cherry orchard.
With residential development clearly their intention, the blocks in upper Stoney Creek surround and would double the Elfrida lands where the city is already determined to convert 2800 acres of unprotected agricultural land to residential development.
**Note: Councillors designated Elfrida as a future expansion area in the city’s official plan but the province removed the references – a response now under appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board by both the city and the developers who own the lands.
**Note: The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is growing mostly through greenfield development, not intensification. Of the 1 million people added to the GTHA between 2001 and 2011 only 14% were accommodated through intensification.
3. The Whitebelt can put more Prime Agricultural Land into the Greenbelt
Some large rural areas currently exist in what is being called a “white belt” between the Greenbelt and the edge of existing urban boundaries. The aerotropolis, Hamilton’s biggest ever-urban boundary expansion, has already consumed about a tenth of the city’s 6700 hectare white belt for these so called “employment lands.”
As a result, in the last round of budgeting, the city could not justify expanding the urban boundary into the Whitebelt to add more residential lands.
We argue that what is left of the Whitebelt be kept intact for food production, since it is almost entirely prime agricultural land.
4. No Net loss’ is not good enough
No, adding here and taking out there and generating “no net loss” will not make up for prime agricultural lands that could be destroyed for good. Tell the city that this idea is not a solution to growth. We have enough spaces to grow without asking for Greenbelt land to do it on. It's called intensification. Hamilton needs to proceed with this strategy the way the province has recommended in the growth plan, focusing on growing our population within our urban boundaries.
5. Yes. We do support the city’s proposal to grow the Greenbelt to include ALL of our Urban River Valleys, not just the Red Hill urban river valley.
**Join us in raising these concerns with your City Councillor!**
Let them know your views on land swaps and the removal of specialty crop lands from Greenbelt protection. Advocate with us for fixed urban boundaries to 2041 as a key outcome of the Coordinated Land Use Planning Review currently underway.
"I think we need to look at agricultural land as a non-renewable resource, and not as something that is urban land in waiting," Margaret Walton, rural planning consultant for the 2006, rural agriculture action plan for Hamilton, stressing that Hamilton cannot afford to lose any more prime agriculture land.
Contact Environment Hamilton at 905 549 0900 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In 2005, the Ontario Government established a provincial greenbelt, adding one million acres of farmland and environmentally sensitive areas to the already protected Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine.
A world-class model for preservation, Ontario’s Greenbelt is the largest of its kind, spanning more than 1.8 million acres of protected forest, farmlands, and wetlands and continues to grow. It extends as far north as Tobermory and stretches 325 kilometres from Rice Lake in Northumberland County to the Niagara River. The Greenbelt also wraps around the Greater Golden Horseshoe — the area that surrounds the western end of Lake Ontario.
Note:The Greenbelt Area, as defined by Ontario Regulation 59/05, is governed by the Greenbelt Plan, which includes lands within the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area, the Oak Ridges Moraine Area, the Parkway Belt West Plan Area, and lands designated as Protected Countryside by this Plan.
The Greenbelt is now 10 years old and with this celebration comes the provincial 10-year formal review (2015 Greenbelt Review). As well as the Greenbelt Plan,other plans up for review include the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP), and the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan. The four land-use plans are coordinated to keep suburbs and exurbs in check by preserving farmland and protecting ecologically sensitive areas.
The deadline for comments on the first phase of this consultation has now passed. The comments and submissions received in the first phase of public consultation will help inform any proposed changes to the plans. Following the release of the proposed changes, a second phase of public consultation will be held to to fine-tune the proposed changes. This second phase of consultation is expected to begin in the winter of 2016. For more information, visit the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Greenbelt Review.
Environment Hamilton prepared Hamiltonians for submitting comments to the Coordinated Land-use Plans Review.
Over the past couple months, that lead up to the closing date of May 28th 2015, Environment Hamilton worked to raise awareness, educate and engage Hamiltonians in submitting their comments for the 4 coordinated land plans review (Greenbelt Reviw being one), to the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) Registry or by emailing the ministry directly, attending the provincial town hall, or sending comments via snail mail.
We held 2 public presentations in preparation for the provincial Town Hall as well as 4 "hands on workshops" every Tuesday in May, to learn how/what to submit to the EBR registry in the Month of May. We held a workshop on food security/soverignty and the Greenbelt as part of the speakers presentation at our yearly Nourishing Hamilton Fair.
ENVIRONMENT HAMILTON 2015 CO-ORDINATED PLANS REVIEW: SUBMISSION TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL BILL OF RIGHTS REGISTRY
Please find Environment Hamilton's 2015 Coordinated Plans Review submission to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry by clicking on the link here.
EH in the News: Links to Articles
Too many communities left out of the Greenbelt. July 17th, 2016.
Councillors hash out Greenbelt Reccomendations Dec. 03 2015
Future of Food and the Greenbelt Dec 03. 2015
The Battle of Two Fruit Farms Nov, 28th. 2015
Greenbelt Removals and More, Nov 27th 2015
Throughout the review period, EH enjoyed the support of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. Thank you! Ontario Green Belt Alliance (a watchdog and defender of Ontario’s Greenbelt and EH is an active member) invites you to sign their petition to strengthen Ontario's Greenbelt.
To learn more about the 4 land area plans, read the discussion document for the 2015 co-ordinated review called Our Region. Our Community. Our Home.
Please join our facebook group if you would like to receive updated information about the reviews.
New Urban River Valley Designation Will Help Us To Grow The Greenbelt!
Did you know that municipalities with lands located within the provincial Greenbelt can ask the province to add more of the municipality to the Greenbelt? This provides municipalities with the ability to request that agricultural lands or naturally significant areas be incorporated and protected within the Greenbelt.
The province has now passed Amendment No. 1 to the Greenbelt Plan.The amendment served to grow the Greenbelt by incorporating the Glenorchy lands in Oakville and it also incorporated a new Greenbelt land designation, referred to as the 'Urban River Valley' designation. This new designation is justified as a way to include '...publicly owned lands that were not in the Greenbelt at the time the plan was approved in 2005' and, further, that '...these areas assist in recognizing the importance of connections to Lake Ontario and other areas in Southern Ontario.' Click here to see the details of Greenbelt Plan Amendment No. 1.
For more information visit the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website. You’ll find a section there on the provincial Greenbelt—including detailed criteria for growing the Greenbelt. The site also includes detailed maps of the Greenbelt and surrounding area—a good place to start if you want to consider how your Greenbelt might grow. Click here to access the 'Growing the Greenbelt' section of MMAH's website.
WHAT COULD WE DO IN HAMILTON WITH THIS NEW URBAN RIVER VALLEY DESIGNATION?
Click here to view a map, prepared by Ontario Greenbelt Alliance/ Environmental Defence illustrating some of the possibilities as far as expansion of the Greenbelt area into urban Hamilton. Or check out the section on Growing the Greenbelt in Hamilton in this report released February 28th by the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. Click here to access the report.
We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
Articles, links and Resources.
Ontario doesn't grow enough food to feed itself, but it could: Study