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.

Hot Politics Episode 9 Quote - Phil 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.

Want to learn more about the Greenbelt and the impact development will have on Ontario? Tune in to the ninth episode of Hot Politics — on Apple Podcast or Spotify.

Hot Politics is made possible by listeners like you. If you’ve supported the podcast already, thank you. If you haven’t, click here to donate what you can to help us keep producing valuable journalism.

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Can't you just imagine the housing that will pop up in the Greenbelt?

"Prestige Estate lots"
"Nestled in the heart of Ontario's Greenbelt, and picturesque Oak Ridges Moraine. Reserve your lot before they are all gone! Starting at $2 million
for Town houses $3.5 million for Semis, and $6 million for a Country Estate. To preserve this exclusive enclave, no affordable units will be located within a mile of its boundaries."!

Enjoy views of bucolic farm houses and pastures, former gravel pits turned into sparkling lakes, Richly treed gravel roads abound for leisurely walking and high speed highways are just a hop, and skip away to whisk you into the heart of Toronto's financial district

Rare glimpses of shy Ontario wildlife , deer, coyotes, raccoons, maybe even beaver, wild turkeys, skunks, turtles, porcupines, etc. many seen by the roadside or in the ditches, will enrich your connections to nature.

Did you know that the Ontario Liberals under Kathleen Wynne carved up the Greenbelt 17 times for developers?

The debate over housing in the Greenbelt, and indeed in sprawl municipalities in the white belt, is ignoring the increased threats to water security in South-central Ontario. The petition of the Coalition of Ontario Water Guardians cites 11 serious issues. You can read the petition and consider supporting it at