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How Sites Were Identified

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Over the past 10 years the government received over 700 site-specific requests for lands to be removed from the Greenbelt or for changes in land use designation within the Greenbelt Area, the Oak Ridges Moraine Area or the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area.

The government launched the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review in February 2015, and began considering the requests as part of the review. This work was also informed by the advice of the advisory panel, chaired by David Crombie, which was appointed to make recommendations on how to amend and improve the plans, to look to policy changes as the primary response to site-specific requests.

An example of a policy response that addresses a number of requests is our proposal to strengthen agricultural viability by allowing greater flexibility in the types of uses allowed on farms in the Greenbelt.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs considered all requests that fall within the Greenbelt Plan Area and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan Area. It reviewed those requests in the context of the original goals of the Greenbelt to: 

  • sustain the environment by prohibiting new urban development in areas where it will endanger the Greenbelt’s natural systems, including its water systems
  • encourage growth in existing urban areas, while supporting vibrant rural communities within the Greenbelt
  • support agriculture as a source of commerce, employment, and domestic food production
  • provide opportunities for recreational and other leisure opportunities to support the needs of our rapidly expanding population.

Requests related to the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area were not considered as part of this exercise because those requests are subject to a separate review process led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. 

As part of the May 2016 consultation on proposed Plan amendments, the province also committed to take a closer look at lands along the boundary of the Greenbelt within the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area in light of the original methodology and rationale used for mapping the Natural Heritage System (NHS) when the Greenbelt was created in 2005. The analysis included provincial NHS data, aerial maps, conservation authority data, municipal NHS data and official plans, and additional information received from landowners. 

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs reviewed and assessed all requests, including those received before the start of the Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review. The ministries of Natural Resources and Forestry; Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs; Environment and Climate Change; and Transportation were consulted on requests relevant to their ministries’ mandates.

Proposed Boundary Changes

Approximately 58 hectares are proposed to be removed from the Greenbelt through minor boundary changes. By comparison, the proposed additions, including 21 Urban River Valleys and associated coastal wetlands, would grow the Greenbelt by approximately 9,000 hectares.
The types of minor changes proposed include: 

  • planning projects that were in progress for the site  before the Greenbelt Plan came into effect
  • changes where an existing road forms the logical Greenbelt boundary 
  • changes that would make the Greenbelt boundary the same as the Oak Ridges Moraine boundary
  • sites where the existing boundary cuts across major institutional, commercial or industrial structures.

In undertaking this review, the government was guided by a number of overarching considerations, including:

  • avoiding boundary changes that would fragment farmland, including prime agricultural lands
  • maintaining a robust Natural Heritage System that can be supported despite urbanization occurring in proximity and downstream to the Greenbelt
  • respecting the functional connections in the Natural Heritage System
  • valuing the overall objectives of the Greenbelt as a landscape and avoiding a minimalist approach to defining the Natural Heritage System
  • being responsive to landowner requests to evaluate site specific situations. 

Boundary Change Requests Not Supported 

While all requests were reviewed, many were not supported, including those that involved:

  • removing any land designated specialty crop
  • removing any land for the purpose of settlement area boundary expansion
  • removing or re-designating any land that is part of the Oak Ridges Moraine
  • re-designating any land that is part of the Greenbelt (e.g., protected countryside to settlement area)
  • removing any land that is necessary for the viability of a robust Natural Heritage System.

The province maintains that the original goals of the Greenbelt remain as relevant today as they were when the Greenbelt was first created in 2005. No boundary or designation changes are proposed that are contrary to the original intent and vision for the Greenbelt.