As of last year, more than a million housing units have been either approved or proposed for construction in the Greenbelt, according to a new analysis by the Regional Planning Commissioners of Ontario.
The gates of development opened after Premier Doug Ford’s contentious decision to break previous promises and allow construction in parts of the Greenbelt, the protected countryside that encircles the Greater Toronto Area, in the name of solving the housing crisis.
Created in 2005, the Greenbelt protects over two million acres of Ontario's most vulnerable green space and agricultural land from urban sprawl. The region is the world's largest of its kind, protecting farmland, forests, wetlands, rivers and lakes.
“What the Greenbelt actually does is give farmers the certainty that our agricultural infrastructure is maintained and it doesn't move,” said environmental expert and former CEO of Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation Burkhard Mausberg.
In the latest episode of Hot Politics, we speak to experts and community leaders who describe the importance of the complex ecosystems and cast doubt on the government’s rationale for opening up the protected lands for housing.
Phil Pothen is a Toronto planning and environmental lawyer and advocacy group Environmental Defence’s environment program manager. He believes that opening the Greenbelt won’t solve the housing crisis.
“The plan that the premier wants us to swallow is a plan that will see fewer homes overall built and certainly see that those homes which are built are less affordable than they would be otherwise,” said Pothen.
“Essentially, we're kneecapping the future of the GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area) economy. We're kneecapping the country's food security,” he added.
Experts and community leaders are casting doubt on the Ontario government’s rationale for opening up the protected #Greenbelt for housing. #HotPolitics #Podcast #Episode9
Host David McKie also spoke with Elaine Baxter-Trahair, chief administrative officer of Durham, a regional municipality home to significant natural, rural and agricultural resources.
Baxter-Trahair said she was surprised to hear about the upcoming developments that would damage Durham’s ability to pay for services like schools and community facilities.
“There was no consultation with the region or with our eight local municipalities or with our various First Nations,” said Baxter-Trahair.
Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said the Greenbelt belongs to all Ontarians. “We all have a stake in this … regardless of whether it's in my borders. This feeds us. This is a huge economic engine for the entire region,” she said.
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