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- Data and mapping are outdated and inadequate for evidence-based decision-making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 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199 (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
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.