Category Archives: Press Releases

News Release: Community Members Encouraged by Land Use Policy Changes, Disappointed to be Left Out of the Greenbelt Again

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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Media Contact:

Kevin Thomason
Phone: 519-888-0519
Mobile Phone: 519-240-1648
E-mail: media@smartgrowthwaterloo.ca

News Release: Smart Growth Waterloo Region Pleased by Provincial Land Use Report

For Immediate Release

SMART GROWTH WATERLOO REGION PLEASED BY PROVINCIAL LAND USE REPORT

Waterloo Region, Ontario – Smart Growth Waterloo Region is pleased by recommendations to strengthen smart growth in Ontario from a provincial advisory panel led by David Crombie.

The report, from the advisory panel created by the provincial government for its 2015 Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review, was released Monday. The panel’s 87 recommendations include increasing targets for accommodating more people in new and existing urban areas, mapping and protecting an integrated agricultural system, and extending provincial protections to sensitive areas like moraines and groundwater recharge areas.

“We’re encouraged that the provincial advisory panel has recognized the principles that we in Waterloo Region have already been putting into practice,” said Mike Boos, co-founder of Smart Growth Waterloo Region and Kitchener resident. “Waterloo Region has been leading the way with local efforts to grow up instead of out, and to create more liveable urban areas while protecting our countryside. We’re glad to see recommendations that support similar policies across a large part of Ontario.”

The Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review was initiated earlier this year by the Province of Ontario, with a mandate to examine the four plans that govern land use in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the area spanning the west side of Lake Ontario.

“While we’re excited to see a strong endorsement of the goals of smart growth, we’re looking forward to specific proposals from the provincial government to put this great vision into practice,” said Kevin Thomason, group co-founder and rural Wilmot resident. “Thousands of people from across the province participated in the consultations leading up to this report, and they have been clear that these important provincial policies need to be strengthened. Now we need to make it happen.”

The second phase of the provincial review, including a second round of community consultation, is expected in early 2016.

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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Media Contact:

Kevin Thomason
Phone: 519-888-0519
Mobile Phone: 519-240-1648
E-mail: media@smartgrowthwaterloo.ca

News Release: Community Members Support Official Plan Settlement Agreement

For Immediate Release

COMMUNITY MEMBERS SUPPORT OFFICIAL PLAN SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

Waterloo Region, Ontario – Local community members are expressing support for a settlement agreement between the Region of Waterloo and greenfield developers who have been fighting the Region’s new Official Plan.

“This agreement is a great accomplishment for Waterloo Region,” said Kevin Thomason, co-founder of Smart Growth Waterloo Region and rural Wilmot resident. “While it’s a compromise, it’s a good one that will allow our community to protect our most important rural areas while building more compact, livable cities. It’s a solid foundation for our future.”

“We’re relieved to see a made-in-Waterloo solution to the dangerous decision made by the Ontario Municipal Board in 2013,” added Kate Daley, Waterloo resident and group co-founder. “This deal protects us from relying on the provincial court system to clean up the mess left by the OMB, and allows our community to move forward with our commitment to growing up instead of out.”

In a 2013 decision, the Ontario Municipal Board had sided with greenfield developers who were asking for 1053 hectares of land to be opened for urban development by 2031. The Region had determined that 85 hectares was the right amount to reach the community’s goals by limiting urban sprawl. This agreement identifies 255 hectares to settle the original dispute, and a future 198 hectares to accommodate more recent higher population projections. This settlement must be approved by the OMB, and would end growth-related appeals of the Region’s Official Plan.

Smart Growth Waterloo Region (www.smartgrowthwaterloo.ca) is a grassroots group started in 2013 by local community members to raise awareness of the Ontario Municipal Board decision, and to encourage citizens to speak out to protect the Region’s smart growth policies.

 

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Media Contact:

Kevin Thomason
Phone: 519-888-0519
Mobile Phone: 519-240-1648
E-mail: media@smartgrowthwaterloo.ca

Community Members Urged to Participate in Provincial Land Planning Consultations

For Immediate Release

COMMUNITY MEMBERS URGED TO PARTICIPATE IN PROVINCIAL LAND PLANNING CONSULTATIONS

Waterloo Region, Ontario – Smart Growth Waterloo Region is urging fellow community members to participate in upcoming consultations on land use planning, appeals, and development charges systems. The Government of Ontario announced parameters and dates for the consultation phase of its review process on Thursday.

“It’s unfortunate that the government has decided it won’t hear the opinions of citizens about the operations or existence of the Ontario Municipal Board, but major issues are still on the table,” said Mike Boos, co-founder of Smart Growth Waterloo Region. “They’re considering things like whether whole Official Plans should be appealable. Citizens need to get involved and have their say.”

“The people of our region have seen first-hand that these rules affect Ontario communities,” added Kate Daley, site co-founder. “Our community has put a decade of work into its Regional Official Plan, and now the Region has to defend that plan against the Ontario Municipal Board in court. We need changes to protect communities across Ontario from the threats that we’re facing.”

The province plans to hold a consultation in Kitchener-Waterloo on November 14, 2013, and comments can be submitted online, by email, or by mail before January 10, 2014. Information on the Province’s consultations can be found at http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page10355.aspx.

In January, the Ontario Municipal Board’s ruled against the Region of Waterloo’s Official Plan, siding with developers who demanded the Region open eleven times more land to urban sprawl between now and 2031. The ruling creates a precedent that threatens the province’s Places to Grow Growth Plan and democratic local decision-making across Ontario. Smart Growth Waterloo Region, hosted at www.smartgrowthwaterloo.ca, is a website launched by local residents to raise awareness of the Ontario Municipal Board decision.

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Media Contact:

Kevin Thomason
Phone: 519-888-0519
Mobile Phone: 519-240-1648
Email: media@smartgrowthwaterloo.ca

 

Local Residents Concerned About Fairness at the OMB

For Immediate Release

LOCAL RESIDENTS CONCERNED ABOUT FAIRNESS AT THE OMB

Waterloo Region, Ontario – Local residents are expressing serious concern about the procedural fairness of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), upon learning that the Region of Waterloo is asking for a judicial review of a crucial OMB decision on procedural fairness grounds. Reports from August 13th indicate that the Region of Waterloo has reason to believe inappropriate interaction may have occurred between the Ontario Municipal Board and the appellant’s primary witness in the OMB decision that decimated the Region’s democratically developed Official Plan.

“This is an alarming development,” said Kate Daley, co-founder of Smart Growth Waterloo Region and resident of Waterloo. “It was already clear that the OMB’s decision wasn’t in the interest of the people of Waterloo Region and the Province of Ontario. Now it seems we can’t even trust that this decision to overrule our democratically elected representatives was made within the basic standards of procedural fairness. Our democratic system depends on that trust.”

“We expect that it will take the courts some time to sort through the mess left by the OMB,” added Kevin Thomason, rural Wilmot resident and site co-founder. “We’re encouraging people across the province to stay informed about this landmark case as it moves forward, and to make it clear to their elected officials that they care about supporting and protecting smart growth in their communities.”

January’s Ontario Municipal Board ruling (PL110080) in favour of developers and against the Region of Waterloo’s Official Plan requires the Region to open up eleven times more land to urban sprawl between now and 2031, and creates a precedent that threatens the province’s Places to Grow Growth Plan and democratic local decision-making across Ontario. The Region has been fighting this dangerous decision in court.

Smart Growth Waterloo Region, hosted at www.smartgrowthwaterloo.ca, is a website launched by local residents to raise awareness of the Ontario Municipal Board decision, and to encourage citizens to speak out and take action against the ruling.

 

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Media Contacts:

Kate Daley or Mike Boos
E-mail: media@smartgrowthwaterloo.ca

Residents Applaud Provincial Involvement in Appeal of OMB Ruling

For Immediate Release

RESIDENTS APPLAUD PROVINCIAL INVOLVEMENT IN APPEAL OF OMB RULING

Waterloo Region, Ontario – Local residents are commending the provincial government for its decision to stand with the Region of Waterloo in court to defend the Region’s Official Plan against a disastrous Ontario Municipal Board ruling.

“We are very pleased that the provincial government has taken this rare and significant step to defend our region and our province against urban sprawl,” said Mike Boos, Kitchener resident and co-founder of Smart Growth Waterloo Region. “The Province of Ontario is sending a strong message that our community’s plan for balancing development in new and old areas can’t just be pushed aside by developers trying to protect their profits.”

“This is an important step, but this fight is far from over,” added Kate Daley, Waterloo resident and site co-founder. “If the Divisional Court doesn’t overturn this ruling, the Province will need to step in with all the policy tools at its disposal to protect the Region’s Official Plan and make sure the precedent set by the ruling doesn’t continue to threaten smart growth across the province.”

The Ontario Municipal Board ruling (PL110080) in favour of developers and against the Region of Waterloo’s Official Plan requires the Region to open up eleven times more land to urban sprawl between now and 2031, and creates a precedent that threatens the province’s Places to Grow Growth Plan and democratic local decision-making across Ontario.

Smart Growth Waterloo Region, hosted at www.smartgrowthwaterloo.ca, is a website launched by local residents on April 5, 2013 to raise awareness of the Ontario Municipal Board decision, and to encourage citizens to speak out and take action against the ruling.

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Media Contact:

Kevin Thomason
Phone: 519-888-0519
Mobile Phone: 519-240-1648
E-mail: media@smartgrowthwaterloo.ca

Residents Fighting Dangerous OMB Precedent Launch Website

For Immediate Release

RESIDENTS FIGHTING DANGEROUS OMB PRECEDENT LAUNCH WEBSITE

Waterloo Region, Ontario – Local residents fighting the dangerous precedent set by the Ontario Municipal Board in January have launched a website. Hosted at www.smartgrowthwaterloo.ca, the site brings together information on the ruling and the ongoing appeal, and links to the many groups and community members speaking out against the ruling.

The Ontario Municipal Board ruling (PL110080) in favour of developers and against the Region of Waterloo’s Official Plan requires the Region to provide 1035 hectares of greenfield and agricultural land for development by 2031, forcing urban sprawl that the Region has been working for a decade to curtail. This is a 1139% increase of the 85 hectares the Region knows is the right amount to accommodate new residents, allow urban intensification, and protect high-quality farmland.

Even more disturbing is the precedent the OMB has set for the rest of the province, gutting the Province of Ontario’s Places to Grow Growth Plan density targets. The ruling also depends on past growth patterns to decide future growth patterns, preventing democratically elected governments across Ontario from responding to and shaping change in how and where we live.

“This ruling is one of the most significant threats facing the Region of Waterloo and communities across Ontario,” said Kevin Thomason, Vice-President of the Grand River Environmental Network (GREN) and co-founder of the site. “The Province of Ontario and ordinary citizens have to join the Region of Waterloo’s fight to protect our communities from this dangerous decision and the precedents it sets.”

The website will serve as a gathering point for concerned citizens and a source of information on this crucial ruling. “We’re hearing a lot of concern from people in our community and across the province,” said Kate Daley, PhD student in political science and site co-founder. “We want to make sure there’s a voice for citizens in this process, not just for developers. We hope this site will help us to learn, connect, and take action.”

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Media Contact:

Kevin Thomason
Phone: 519-888-0519
Mobile Phone: 519-240-1648
E-mail: media@smartgrowthwaterloo.ca