Wellington Water Watchers calls decision-makers, stakeholders and rights holders to An Inspired Conversation – on growing the Greenbelt in Wellington County

This campaign aims to protect critical drinking water sources, healthy watersheds and rivers, and an abundant supply of clean water for agriculture and other businesses

For immediate release

February 8, 2016, Guelph, ON – Wellington Water Watchers (WWW), as part of a coalition of more than 100 grassroots community groups across the province, is asking the provincial government to expand the Greenbelt to protect 1.5 million acres of land containing vital water resources.

Ontario’s Greenbelt, the world’s largest permanently protected Greenbelt, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2015. In February 2015 the province mandated a coordinated review panel, chaired by former Toronto mayor David Crombie, to review the Greenbelt plan and develop recommendations for amendments to decisions about the Greenbelt going forward.

In December 2015 the panel completed its work and submitted the report Planning for Health, Prosperity and Growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe: 2015 – 2041. View the report’s Executive Summary. The Report supports the growth of the Greenbelt. To help decision-makers, stakeholders and rights holders get the information they need to know about the proposed Greenbelt expansion, WWW with a grant from Environmental Defence, is hosting:

An Inspired Conversation — A forum for stakeholders and rights holders about expanding the Greenbelt in Wellington County.

When: Thursday, February 18, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Where: Puslinch Community Centre Archie MacRobbie Hall, 23 Brock Rd. S., Aberfoyle
David Crombie will be the Guest Speaker as well as a panel member.
David Crombie, former mayor of Toronto and Chair, Land Use Advisory Panel
Jeremy Grant, Seaton Group developer
Gerry Stephenson, Wellington County farmer
Lise Burcher, former City of Guelph Councillor, University of Guelph professor
John Fitzgibbon, Professor of Rural Planning and Development, University of Guelph

Locally, the Greenbelt Plan review represents a unique opportunity to bring many voices together to envision a made-in-Wellington-County legacy for future generations. How can we best meet our growth targets while ensuring protection of source water, prime farmland, and natural areas in Wellington County?

By bringing stakeholders and rights holders from all political stripes together we can help build a positive future that support both population growth demands and the permanent protection of important moraine headwater areas including the Orangeville Moraine and the Galt-Paris Moraine.

These moraine features supply clean drinking water directly to the 171, 889 people living in Centre Wellington, Erin, Guelph/Eramosa (including the City of Guelph), North Dumfries and portions of North Wellington. They filter and recharge local aquifers and mitigate the risks of flooding and extreme weather for downstream communities. But they are under increasing pressure from urban sprawl and agricultural intensification.

“More than 90 per cent of Ontarians agree that the Greenbelt is one of the most important contributors to the future of the province,” says Arlene Slocombe, executive director of WWW. “Our intention is to get an Agreement in Principal from Guelph-Wellington decision-makers to expand the Greenbelt to include our river corridors, Orangeville Moraine and Galt-Paris Moraine, and significant wetlands and recharge areas. We need comprehensive and effective regional protection of our critical potable water resources, working lands and natural heritage systems.”

The approximately 2700 acres WWW has identified for Greenbelt expansion, lie outside land already designated for the urban development needed to accommodate population growth until 2041 and beyond.

“To maintain the integrity of Greenbelt policy, we feel it is essential not to shrink the boundary lines of the existing Greenbelt but instead expand the Greenbelt to include our proposed bluebelt for source water protection areas,” says Slocombe. “Polling data consistently shows that Ontarians value the clean water benefits of the Greenbelt higher than any other benefit. Citizens of Guelph-Wellington, please ask your elected officials to attend our Inspired Conversation event.”

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About Wellington Water Watchers Founded in 2007, Wellington Water Watchers (WWW) is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization based in Guelph, Ontario. Committed to the protection of water resources and public education, WWW works to affect local water policy and protect water sources. WWW also sponsors and supports guest speakers, debates, and are active at bottled-water free community events.

For more information, to attend our event or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Arlene Slocombe, Executive Director, Wellington Water Watchers

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