Growing the Greenbelt 101

The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan are four provincial land use plans that work together to manage growth, build complete communities, curb sprawl and protect the natural environment. These plans support agriculture and promote economic development in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe.

The current Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review (Review of the Greenbelt and its proposed expansion areas) represents a unique opportunity to permanently protect Wellington County’s important moraine headwater areas including the Orangeville and Galt-Paris moraines, which supply clean drinking water directly to 171, 889 people.

Wellington Water Watchers, along with over 100 other organizations support growing the Greenbelt to include significant and sensitive hydrological and ecological areas that provide benefits to millions of GGH residents. Members of the public overwhelmingly agree: more than 9 in 10 Ontarians support Greenbelt expansion to protect water supplies and natural areas, and residents and stakeholders submitted more than 45,000 petitions and letters of support during the recent Coordinated Land Use Planning Review.

We are currently in the final months of the Coordinated Land Use Planning Review and have some last opportunities to influence how much of Wellington County we can get included in the expanded Greenbelt.

Case for Urgent Action

  • Climate change will compound existing population and growth pressures
  • Threats to water are growing
  • Data and mapping are outdated and inadequate for evidence-based decision-making
  • Municipalities are largely dependent on groundwater for municipal drinking water supplies
  • There is an over-supply of land necessary to accommodate population growth

We recommend growing the Greenbelt to protect a “Bluebelt” of sensitive and significant hydrological and ecological areas where urbanization should not occur, as per the new Greenbelt Plan policies 5.6.1.1 and 5.6.1.2 (see map showing proposed expansion areas at the bottom of the page)

A recent primer completed by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation titled Growing the Green, Protecting the Blue, includes a portion on the Grand River watershed moraines:

“With 8 in 10 residents in the Grand River watershed dependent on wells for their drinking water, and an estimated 500,000 people moving to the area by 2041, the need to protect groundwater is clear. A trio of moraines – massive hills of sand and gravel left behind after the last ice age – filter and recharge most of the region’s groundwater on less than one third of its land area. They cut across at least 19 municipalities and three conservation authorities, creating a complex patchwork of local policies and regulations. Local groups and elected officials are now calling for stronger provincial protection to ensure that growth pressures, drought and climate change do not endanger water supplies in the future.” – Growing the Green, Protecting the Blue

As citizens of the upper portion of the Grand River watershed, we have a responsibility to protect source water here for future generations within Wellington County but also for those downstream.

The Wellington County Official Plan already does well to describe protections for the Paris-Galt moraine, but does not do so for the Orangeville moraine. Greenbelt designation can provide the protection needed for these significant groundwater recharge features.

The approximately 2700 acres for Greenbelt expansion, identified by Wellington Water Watchers, lie outside land already designated for urban development needed to accommodate population growth until 2041 and beyond.

The Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine Plans have been successful at maintaining watershed conditions, including forest condition and surface/groundwater quality. The landscape connections through Wellington County, including our River Corridors, Orangeville Moraine and Galt-Paris Moraine will provide for a more comprehensive and regional protection of potable water resources, working lands and natural heritage systems.

Learn more by viewing these presentations:

Protect our Moraines!

All our work to keep our water in our watershed would be for naught if we pave over our moraines – those wonderful geologic features that do all the work for us to ensure we have pristine groundwater. The same is true for our significant wetlands and river corridors. We need to protect these important ecological treasures from the impacts of sprawl.

During the month of May, we anticipate a final proposal from the Province about what lands are to be included in the expanded Greenbelt areas. Wellington Water Watchers together with 100 other organizations formed a coalition called the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance and have mapped out the areas we believe should be included in an expanded Greenbelt, to protect farmland and essential source water protection features. See the map at the bottom of this page for the areas specific to this county.

For more information about the role of wetlands and their significance, please look at the report, “When the Big Storms Hit: The Role of Wetlands to Limit Urban and Rural Flood Damage.” This report assesses the potential for wetlands to affect the financial impacts associated with rural and urban flooding. Working with the Grand River Conservation Authority (Ontario), Credit Valley Conservation (Ontario) and Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Intact Centre on Climate adaptation (Intact Centre) determined that wetlands, if maintained in their natural state, can substantially reduce flood damage costs to buildings (ranging from residential homes and apartment buildings, to industrial, commercial and institutional structures). Click here to read more

Once the Province announces its proposals, there will be several months of an open comment period. This is our last opportunity to include vital source water protection features within Wellington County in the expanded Greenbelt.

Self-guided Brewery Discovery Routes Maps provide complete itineraries for folks looking to indulge in the flavours of artisanal cheeses, lovingly prepared culinary treats using fresh, local ingredients, premium craft beverages, farmers’ markets and scenic outlooks.

 

The Guelph area route explores quaint villages nestled in rolling countryside, spectacular views from atop 400 million year old limestone cliffs, a Canadian Heritage River and the critically acclaimed restaurants, breweries and accommodations of Guelph. Download the Guelph area Brewery Discovery Route here.

An Inspired Conversation Follow-Up

On February 18th, Wellington Water Watchers hosted An Inspired Conversation, bringing together regional decision-makers, stakeholders and rights holders to discuss an expanded Greenbelt in Wellington County. The thoughts of plenary speaker David Crombie and the rest of the panel were indeed inspired, and raised excellent points and important questions about the provincial Land Use Planning Review. A full transcript and follow-up report on the event is available below, as well as a brief transcript version for information at a glance.

An Inspired Conversation Follow-Up Report (10.1 MB)

Brief Report (2.6 MB) 

Map of Guelph Area Growth Map for Greenbelt Expansion


Photo credit for photographs used on this page: Friends of the Greenbelt