Author Archives: Mike Boos

Bill 66 is a Threat to Waterloo Region’s Agriculture, Drinking Water & Growth Strategy

Hold the Line, Smart Growth Waterloo Region, and the Waterloo Federation of Agriculture are calling on the councils of the Region of Waterloo and area municipalities to pass resolutions to reaffirm their commitment to smart growth and meaningful public consultations, and to reject the use of Bill 66.

The Province of Ontario’s proposed Bill 66 threatens Waterloo Region’s water quality and supply, agricultural and rural communities, natural ecosystems, and the continued smart growth of its urban cores. The bill would permit municipalities to allow business developments that don’t follow laws that protect our water, agriculture, and community development plans.

While the government’s bill claims to be an attempt to support business, it undermines one of Waterloo Region’s main industries. “The agricultural sector contributes over a half billion dollars to our local economy every year,” said Mark Reusser of the Waterloo Federation of Agriculture. “If developers can bypass agricultural protections, as Bill 66 would allow, it threatens our economy and our food supply.”

“The truth is that smart growth is key to our region’s prosperity,” added Kevin Thomason of Smart Growth Waterloo Region. “Since the Region of Waterloo adopted its smart growth approach in 2003, our unemployment rate has decreased from 5.9% to 5.1%, beating the national rate. More efficient use of infrastructure benefits everyone.”

All three organizations are especially alarmed that Bill 66 removes the requirement for public notice and public meetings with opportunity for community input, as well as the opportunity to appeal the decision.

“Our citizens expect communications and public meetings as well the having the ability to appeal bad decisions,” said Sam Nabi of Hold the Line. “But if Bill 66 becomes law, the only notice residents would receive of an impending development is when the first bulldozer arrives – with no opportunity for recourse or appeal. Our region keeps growing and we welcome that growth. But how and where this growth takes place must be a decision that we make intentionally and democratically together.”

The groups are urging citizens to speak up. Emails can be sent to both local and provincial governments at act.holdthelinewr.org. They also urge people across Ontario to watch for upcoming opportunities to work together against Bill 66 in our communities.

“We’re confident that our eight municipalities will continue to demonstrate leadership and have a formal vote to protect our farms, drinking water, natural ecosystems, and smart urban development,” added Nabi. 

Hold the Line is a local non-profit made up of artists, community builders, sustainability advocates, and Waterloo Region enthusiasts. They support the farms, towns, and natural spaces that make up the Region’s countryside, and the vibrant and dense urban cores that complement them.

Smart Growth Waterloo Region is a grassroots group started in 2013 by community members to raise awareness of and support for local and provincial smart growth policies. It represents community members of Waterloo who want to enjoy both thriving liveable cities and a sustainable countryside.

The Waterloo Federation of Agriculture is one of 52 county and regional federations supported by OFA across the province. Waterloo Federation of Agriculture represents the voice of agriculture in the local community and advocates on behalf of farm families in the Region of Waterloo on local agricultural issues. The goal of WFA is to promote the farm community in support of the innovation, hard work and compassion that is emblematic of the Region.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Sam Nabi, Director, Hold the Line: connect@holdthelinewr.org

Kevin Thomason, Director, Smart Growth Waterloo Region: media@smartgrowthwaterloo.ca

Mark Reusser, Vice-President, Waterloo Federation of Agriculture: markreusser@gmail.com

Smart Growth Waterloo Region’s comments on Greenbelt expansion

Wednesday March 7 is the last day to share your comments with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs regarding the proposed expansion of the Greenbelt into Waterloo Region.

Read our comments in support of growing the Greenbelt into Waterloo Region and our encouragement that the government continue to work closely with the Region to ensure our hard-fought local environmental protections are strengthened through its expansion.

Don’t forget to share your comments by March 7!

News Release: Smart Growth Waterloo Region Pleased to see Province Propose to Expand the Greenbelt, Encourages Local Citizens to Speak Up in Upcoming Consultations

For Immediate Release

Waterloo Region, Ontario – Smart Growth Waterloo Region is pleased to see the
province release plans this morning that could expand the Greenbelt beyond the
Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, including into Waterloo Region.
Over the next 90 days, consultations will be held in Waterloo, Guelph, Brantford, and
other Ontario communities. The provincial government is looking for feedback from the
public on these important plans to protect the important water resources we all depend
on from the growing pressures of development.

“Our water is increasingly under threat from development and climate change,” states
Kevin Thomason from Smart Growth Waterloo Region. “Stronger protections for our
essential water sources will help to ensure the resilience and the future success of our
communities, particularly with the rapid growth that Waterloo Region is experiencing.”
The Greenbelt permanently protects lands from urbanization, helps to ensure the
integrity of our agricultural system and natural eco-systems, and is one of the largest
and most significant in the world. Protecting water in wetlands, streams, headwaters
and groundwater recharge areas such as the moraines is critical to providing
communities dependent on groundwater like ours with abundant, clean, and secure
drinking water supplies.

Local community and environmental groups have worked for years to secure provincial
support for and reinforcement of our local water and natural heritage protections such
as our Regional Official Plan, Protected Countryside and Countryside Line designations.
“Waterloo Region has lead with numerous environmental protection initiatives over the
past decade. As long as the strongest of local and provincial rules prevail, an expansion
of the Greenbelt to the Waterloo and Paris-Galt Moraines will provide multiple layers of protection for these critical groundwater recharge areas,” says Mike Boos, a co-founder
of Smart Growth Waterloo Region. “Our members have long advocated for vibrant
urban centers surrounded by thriving countryside and this announcement today
provides a proposal that could strengthen that balance.”

Polling consistently shows extremely strong support for the Greenbelt with more than
90% of Ontarians agreeing that the Greenbelt is one of the most important initiatives for
the future of the province, helping to protect farmland, rural communities, water
sources, and natural greenspace.

Smart Growth Waterloo Region anticipates that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs will
host a consultation and town hall meeting in Waterloo Region sometime in January or
February during this 90 day consultation period. We encourage local citizens as well as
local organizations to speak up and provide feedback to the government supporting this
important water protection initiative. To learn more please visit
smartgrowthwaterloo.ca or the government website at ontario.ca/greenbelt.

Smart Growth Waterloo Region 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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For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Kevin Thomason
Co-founder and Media Contact, Smart Growth Waterloo Region
Phone: 519-888-0519
Mobile Phone: 519-240-1648
E-mail: media@smartgrowthwaterloo.ca

smartgrowthwaterloo.ca

Poll shows widespread support for Region’s growth management

Waterloo Region’s Growth Management Strategy, as laid out in the Regional Official Plan, is an ambitious attempt to protect our farms and natural areas while also channelling growth to improve our neighbourhoods and communities. The Official Plan governs where new growth can take place and what form it will take across the entire Region. It’s important to check periodically that plans of this magnitude continue to have public support and understanding.

Fortunately, the Region now has fresh assurances that it’s approach to protecting countryside and building up urban areas are widely supported. As part of its strategic planning, the Region commissioned a representative survey to gauge resident’s priorities and levels of satisfaction with Regional policies and services. Questions were asked on topics which included economic development, the environment, healthy and inclusive communities, transportation, and responsive government services.

Here are a few things they discovered about how people feel about the Region’s smart growth approach: Continue reading