Ontario has released updated land use plans for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including much of the Lake Simcoe Watershed.
The four updated plans are:
• The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2017)
• The Greenbelt Plan (2017)
• The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (2017)
• The Niagara Escarpment Plan (2017)
They are available for review and download at: ontario.ca/greatergoldenhorseshoeplans
Several organizations, including the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition, had encouraged the province to expand the Greenbelt to all of Simcoe County. Maps released with the updated plans show this has not happened at this point.
The plans were updated after two years of consultation, including recommendations from an advisory panel chaired by former federal cabinet minister and former Toronto mayor David Crombie.
In a statement announcing the release of the plans, Bill Mauro, Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs, and Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, said the updated plans "will help residents in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the Niagara Escarpment area live, work and play in communities that are healthy, prosperous and sustainable."
"These plans will protect our quality of life for generations to come and will help us prepare for a future in which the region is forecast to grow to 13.5-million by 2041.
"The plans work together to manage growth, build complete communities, curb sprawl, provide a range of housing options, and attract jobs and investments, while addressing climate change, preserving and protecting green spaces, farmland and ecologically sensitive lands and waters."
The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation welcomed the inclusion in the Greenbelt of additional areas, but the organization said it looks forward "to participating in the process to consider additional watersheds and hydrological areas to include in Greenbelt."
The organization's response said, in part:
"With today’s announcement, the Province has reinforced the most central legacy of the Greenbelt – its permanence. Along with the addition of 21 urban rivers and 7 coastal wetlands, we look forward to participating in the process to consider additional watersheds and hydrological areas to include in Greenbelt. Protecting a clean water supply supports agriculture and ensures the long-term health of the region.
"The Greenbelt has withstood immense pressure from some developers throughout this Review who want to continue to build inefficient, sprawling housing on prime farmland, with little thought to the ecological health of the region. We are pleased the government will grow the Greenbelt, not turn it into a Swiss cheese belt by agreeing to the over 700 requests to remove land from its protection.
"The changes announced to the Growth Plan to shift the majority of growth to already built-up areas are a welcome change that will create walkable, transit oriented communities and increase housing affordability by introducing meaningful housing choices for all ages and life stages. An effective Growth Plan is an essential companion to a strong Greenbelt, and together these plans will ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
"The Province’s decision to define and protect both the agricultural system and natural heritage system across the region means we can protect what needs to be protected, before development applications come in."