It’s time for Waterloo Region to be included in the Greenbelt. And we need your help to make it happen.
The provincial government is considering expanding the Greenbelt beyond the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. Right now, they’re asking for comments on where it should go, as part of their land use planning review.
We need to make sure that Waterloo Region isn’t left out of the Greenbelt again. When the Greenbelt was originally created, the Region of Waterloo asked several times to be included. But our community has not received the protections that other communities got from the Greenbelt.
In response, our local leaders stepped up to fill in the gaps. They created the Protected Countryside, which is intended to permanently protect a large band of agricultural lands and environmental features to the south, west, and north of our major urban areas (marked with green dots):
Map 7 of the Region of Waterloo’s 2015 Official Plan, showing the Protected Countryside. From http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regionalGovernment/resources/Consolidated_ROP_2015/Map_7-_The_Countryside.pdf
Combined with the other policies of the Region’s 2015 Official Plan, the Protected Countryside is designed to ensure that we can build more liveable urban communities while protecting and supporting agriculture and our environment.
These local protections are important, impressive, and strong. But they are not yet as strong as they need to be. Under provincial planning rules, municipal governments are not allowed to make permanent plans. Any future regional government could make a rash change that threatens the lands that our community has decided to permanently protect.
Our local plans aren’t permanent, but the Greenbelt is. Overlaying the Greenbelt on our Protected Countryside would provide a second layer of protection. Because of our existing local protections, inclusion in the Greenbelt wouldn’t change things on the ground for landowners. But it would make sure that our local protections are permanent, just like they were intended to be.
Looking beyond our borders, we find more good reasons to extend the Greenbelt to Waterloo Region. While our local protections are strong, they are only within the boundaries of Waterloo Region. But our key environmental features don’t stop at municipal borders, and their protection shouldn’t, either.
Fortunately, people from all over the Greater Golden Horseshoe are calling for Greenbelt expansion. There’s a proposal supported by grassroots groups across the province that would expand the Greenbelt to protect the sensitive water resources on which Ontarians rely. They’re calling it the Bluebelt. Given that we’re one of the largest communities in Canada to rely primarily on groundwater, we’re especially dependent on the features identified in the proposed Bluebelt:
The proposed “Bluebelt” as envisioned for the Grand River watershed. From http://www.growourgreenbelt.ca/bluebelt_resources
This map of their proposed Bluebelt extends beyond our local Protected Countryside to include all of our moraines. But it shows just how large our moraines are, and that they extend well beyond municipal boundaries. To truly protect our local resources, we need our local protections to be integrated with protections for our neighbouring municipalities, some of which have not had the same local leadership that our community has had.
We need your help.
Use our handy contact form, and take 30 seconds right now to email our local MPPs and regional councillors, and tell them that you want the Greenbelt in Waterloo Region. Give them the support they need to make sure we don’t get left out of the Greenbelt this time.