On May 10, the provincial government announced proposed changes to land use planning rules in Ontario.
There’s been a lot of excitement about some of these changes, and some of them should help other communities to follow the Region of Waterloo’s example in promoting intensification and higher densities for more livable urban areas, and coordinating land use planning with transit planning.
Unfortunately, the province did not announce plans to expand the Greenbelt into Waterloo Region. The Region asked to be included in the Greenbelt several times while it was being created. Several years later, our municipal governments have worked hard to create our own local protections, including a Protected Countryside, to preserve our sensitive environmental and agricultural resources. Our local protections mean the Greenbelt wouldn’t change anything on the ground for landowners. But Greenbelt designation would add an extra layer of protection, and integrate our local protections with those in other municipalities, since environmental features don’t stop at the border.
So this month’s announcement fell short for us here in Waterloo Region. It seems that, while the province is helping other communities meet Waterloo’s standards, their announcement doesn’t bring the protections other communities have from the Greenbelt to Waterloo Region.
But this fight’s far from over.
We Need Your Help!
There are three things you can do right now to help make sure upcoming changes protect our agricultural and environmental resources and promote livable cities:
- Mark your calendar. The provincial government is hosting a series of open houses all across the province on these changes, and the first one is right here in Waterloo Region! Join us on Tuesday May 31st from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at the Preston Auditorium at 1458 Hamilton Street.
- Submit your comments. The province is asking for feedback on its proposed changes. They’ve specifically asked for suggestions on places outside the GTHA where the Greenbelt should be expanded. Tell them that after more than a decade of exclusion, we need the Greenbelt in Waterloo Region. All the provincial documents and the official feedback form are online, so getting involved is easy. You have until September 30th to submit your comments.
- Make sure you’re on our email list. We don’t send emails very often, but when we do, it’s because important things are happening about smart growth in the province and in the region. You can sign up quickly and easily right here. And of course, unsubscribing is just as easy.
Learn More About Proposed Changes
There’s lots to learn about the proposed changes. The official documentation from the province is all online, but that’s not all.
You can read our news release on the announcement here.
We’ve been quite pleased that a number of our local news organizations understand how important Greenbelt expansion in the area is, and have provided some solid coverage in the last two weeks:
- CBC posted a story about our continued exclusion from the Greenbelt, and why expansion is important. They also ran a follow-up story with statements from local builders with an interest in urban expansion, who seem open to discussions about the Greenbelt, though perhaps not overly eager to ensure province-level safeguards for our existing local protections.
- Recent coverage from the Waterloo Chronicle/Kitchener Post, based on an interview with our own Kevin Thomason.
You can also check out other responses to the announcement from other groups and writers: