For Immediate Release
COMMUNITY MEMBERS ENCOURAGED BY LAND USE POLICY CHANGES, DISAPPOINTED TO BE LEFT OUT OF THE GREENBELT AGAIN
Waterloo Region, Ontario – Local community members are encouraged by the province’s proposed changes to provincial land use policies, but much more will need to be done to ensure Waterloo Region is included in the crucial protections of the Greenbelt.
Proposed changes announced by the government Tuesday afternoon address a number of the problems faced by the Region of Waterloo in its successful fight to defend its smart growth-based official plan over the last several years. These changes include standard provincial rules to determine whether agricultural and rural lands should be converted to urban uses.
“A number of these changes should help other Ontario communities adopt smart growth requirements the Region of Waterloo fought hard to protect in its battle with the OMB,” said Kate Daley, co-founder of Smart Growth Waterloo Region and Waterloo resident. “But we were hoping for a strong and immediate commitment to expanding the Greenbelt in Waterloo Region. That didn’t happen today.”
Waterloo Region is a prime area for Greenbelt expansion. Ontario’s Greenbelt, established in 2005, currently protects 1.8 million acres of land in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the area that surrounds the western end of Lake Ontario.
“After being left out of the original Greenbelt, despite multiple requests to be included, our communities and local governments spent the last decade creating and defending our own local Protected Countryside,” said Kevin Thomason, group co-founder and rural Wilmot resident. “So the work has already been done here. Because of our local protections, Greenbelt designation wouldn’t change anything on the ground for landowners, but it would add an important extra layer of protection for our sensitive natural and agricultural resources.”
The Province of Ontario’s Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review, with a mandate to examine the four plans that govern land use in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, began last year with record public participation. Smart Growth Waterloo Region encourages community members to submit comments on the proposed changes, which cover a wide range of issues like infrastructure, agriculture, and climate change. Comments will be accepted by the provincial government until the end of September, and a series of open houses across the province will begin in Cambridge on May 31st.
Smart Growth Waterloo Region (www.smartgrowthwaterloo.ca) is a grassroots group started in 2013 by community members to raise awareness and support for local and provincial smart growth policies.
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