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Reference Sheet - Growing the Greenbelt

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This reference sheet provides a summary of the Growing the Greenbelt criteria used by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to consider municipal requests to expand the Greenbelt. The full text of the criteria, including process and principles, is available in the document Growing the Greenbelt (August 2008) and should be referenced for more details.

When a formal submission is received, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, with technical support from partner ministries, will review the submission to determine how the municipality has addressed all of the criteria. Based on this review, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing may initiate the process to amend the Greenbelt Plan, in accordance with the provisions of the Greenbelt Act, 2005.

1. Municipal Request


The request is from a regional, county or single-tier municipal government and is supported by a council resolution.

In a region or county, the lower-tier host municipality (or municipalities) in the proposed expansion area supports the request through a council resolution.

The municipality documents how it has addressed the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s expectations for:

  • Engagement with the public, key stakeholders, and public bodies such as conservation authorities, including notification of affected landowners.
  • Engagement with Aboriginal communities.

2. Additions to the Greenbelt

The request identifies a proposed expansion area that is adjacent to the Greenbelt or demonstrates a clear functional relationship to the Greenbelt area and how the Greenbelt Plan policies will apply.

3. Embraces the Greenbelt Purpose

The request demonstrates how the proposed expansion area meets the intent of the vision and one or more of the goals of the Greenbelt Plan.

4. Connections to Greenbelt Systems

One or more of the Greenbelt systems (Natural Heritage System, Agricultural System and Water Resource System) is identified and included in the proposed expansion area and their functional relationship to the existing Greenbelt system is demonstrated.

5. Complements the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

A municipality’s request to expand the Greenbelt may be considered by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing while the municipality is engaged in its associated Growth Plan conformity exercise. The proposed area for expansion cannot impede the implementation of the Growth Plan. The municipality must demonstrate how the expansion area supports the goals, objectives and targets of both the Greenbelt Plan and the Growth Plan.

Expansions to the Greenbelt will be considered for areas that are outside of existing urban settlement areas. An exception may be considered for major natural heritage systems that are located within existing urban settlement areas. The natural heritage system must be designated within the municipal official plan.

6. Timing and Relationship to Other Provincial Initiatives

A municipality’s request to expand the Greenbelt may be considered by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing while the complementary provincial initiatives are being developed.

The request has to demonstrate that the proposed expansion area will not undermine the provincial interests, or planning or implementation of complementary provincial initiatives (e.g. Source Protection Plans under the Clean Water Act, 2006, Metrolinx’s Regional Transportation Plan, Lake Simcoe Protection Plan). 

tall trees beside a watercourse   crop field with barn   Cyclists over looking a waterfall   Greenbelt vegetables

Contact Information

Ministry of Municipal Affairs
13th Floor, 777 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5
Phone: 416-585-6014
Fax: 416-585-6870

More Information

For more information on the Greenbelt and the complete criteria, visit:
Ministry of Municipal Affairs - Greenbelt

Ministry of Municipal Affairs
ISBN 978-1-4435-2428-5 (PDF)
ISBN 978-1-4435-2427-8 (HTML)
© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2010

Disponible en français sous le titre Feuille de référence - Une ceinture de verdure croissante