Ideas for adding more Urban River Valleys

ERO number
Notice type
Greenbelt Act, 2005
Posted by
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Notice stage
Proposal posted
Comment period
March 24, 2022 - April 23, 2022 (30 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:

March 24, 2022
to April 23, 2022

Proposal summary

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is seeking feedback on ideas for future expansions to the Greenbelt through the addition and expansion of Urban River Valleys.

Proposal details

In Ontario’s 2020 and 2021 budgets, the government committed to protecting the Greenbelt for future generations by expanding its quantity and quality. 

To continue to deliver on this commitment, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) is seeking ideas for adding Urban River Valleys to the Greenbelt in the future through new URVs and/or expansions to existing URVs that could specifically include:

  • Ideas for new URVs
  • The addition of tributaries to any existing Urban River Valley
  • The addition of publicly owned parcels to any existing Urban River Valley

As part of the Phase 2 consultation, there are two other related ERO postings:

  • ERO number 019-4485 seeking feedback on proposed changes to the Greenbelt Plan that could add new 13 new Urban River Valley areas to the Greenbelt.
  • ERO number 019-4483 seeking feedback on the proposed amendment to the Greenbelt Area boundary regulation associated with the proposed new urban River Valley areas.


The Greenbelt Plan and A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (A Place to Grow), have worked together for over 15 years to provide a framework for where and how growth should be accommodated in southern Ontario. The Greenbelt Area includes lands covered by the policies of the Greenbelt Plan, as well as the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan. Collectively, these plans identify where major urbanization should not occur. The plans provide permanent protection to the agricultural land base and the ecological and hydrological features, areas and functions within the Greater Golden Horseshoe and beyond.

The Greenbelt Plan has two designations:

  1. Protected Countryside - Comprises most of the area covered by the Greenbelt Plan. In addition to general polices that apply across the Greenbelt, there are three geographic specific policy areas:
    1. Agricultural System
    2. Natural System
    3. Settlement Area
  2. Urban River Valleys (see link to Map in Supporting Materials below)
    • Currently includes 21 Urban River Valleys and associated coastal wetlands added to the Plan in 2013 and 2017
    • The Urban River Valley designation in the Greenbelt Plan applies to lands in river valleys within an urban context, connecting the Greenbelt’s Protected Countryside lands to the Great Lakes and inland lakes (e.g., Don River, Duffins Creek, Twelve Mile Creek). In addition to protecting natural and water features, URVs provide recreation, tourism and cultural opportunities in natural settings.
    • The Greenbelt provides a firm boundary for the protection of lands, including any lands added as URVs. The URV designation includes both publicly and privately owned lands but the policies only apply to publicly owned lands. URV lands are often lands designated in municipal official plans as parks, open space, conservation and/or environmental protection.
    • There may be opportunities for additional urban river valleys to be added or existing ones to be expanded to include additional publicly owned land.

Growing the Greenbelt

During phase 1 of the consultation, from February 17 to April 19, 2021, MMAH sought feedback on ways to grow the size and further enhance the quality of the Greenbelt, with a priority on seeking ideas for adding, expanding and further protecting the Greenbelt.

Over the 61 days, MMAH received over 6,150 responses. Please visit ERO 019-3136 Consultation on growing the size of the Greenbelt for details on what we heard. For more information on the proposed amendments to the Greenbelt Plan and Greenbelt Area boundary regulation as part of phase 2 consultation, please see ERO number 019-4485 and ERO number 019-4483

Key Principles for Expanding the Greenbelt

The principles that were applied to proposed URVs in phase 1 (see ERO number 019-4485) are also relevant to guide feedback on ideas for adding/expanding Urban River Valleys to the Greenbelt in the future. The principles include: 

  1. No removal or land exchanges proposed
    • This proposal is about growing the size and quality of the Greenbelt, and the government will not consider the removal of any lands from the Greenbelt.
  2. No policy changes proposed that would reduce existing protections in the Greenbelt
    • The proposed expansions would be based on existing policies.
  3. Supports Greenbelt Plan objectives, vision, and goals
    • The lands proposed for addition would support the Greenbelt Plan’s objectives, vision and goals of providing permanent protection to the agricultural land base and the natural heritage and hydrological features, areas and functions occurring on this landscape and providing for the inclusion of publicly owned lands in URVs.
  4. Follows existing amendment process
    • The Greenbelt Act, 2005 sets out the legislated public process that applies to any proposed Greenbelt Plan amendments. This would include requiring consultation with affected public bodies such as the Greenbelt Council, municipalities and conservation authorities in the Greenbelt Area, an opportunity for consultation with general public, as well as ensuring any proposed amendment does not reduce the total land area within the Greenbelt Plan. Engagement with Indigenous communities would also occur before any amendments are made.
  5. Connects physically and/or functionally to the current Greenbelt
    • The Greenbelt is meant to be a continuous broad band of permanently protected land. Any expansions shall build upon the systems approach of the Greenbelt Plan and should be directly connected or have a strong functional connection through the Greenbelt’s natural heritage, water resource or agricultural systems to not create unconnected islands of Greenbelt land.
  6. Considers impacts on existing provincial priorities;

Approach to Identifying New or Expanded Urban River Valleys 

The key factors that were considered in identifying proposed URVs in Phase 2 of Growing the Greenbelt (see ERO number 019-4485) are relevant to guide feedback on ideas for adding/expanding Urban River Valleys to the Greenbelt in the future. The key factors include:

Support from a municipal council resolution and/or staff report from municipalities and/or conservation authorities. The province can also lead the identification of URV candidates.

The proposed URVs:

  • are located in an urban settlement area, outside of the Greenbelt, to allow for the ecological connection and integration of the Greenbelt into urban settings through river valley connections,
    • connect physically and/or have a strong functional connection to the current Greenbelt, Greenbelt Plan, and Great Lakes, inland lakes or areas beyond,
    • contain natural and hydrologic features, including coastal wetlands, in keeping with Greenbelt Plan’s vision and goals and URV policies to protect natural and open space lands to assist in ecological connections, natural heritage and hydrologic features and functions of river valleys,
    • are generally designated in official plans for uses that meet Greenbelt Plan objectives,
    • include mostly or entirely publicly owned lands, as the URV policies apply only to publicly owned and not privately owned lands.
  • Other provincial priorities such as the Province’s current use and future plans for publicly owned lands (e.g., provincial parks) are considered.

The boundaries of the proposed URVs are generally based on a 60 m setback from the water's edge and include both public and privately owned lands (but the URV policies do not apply to privately owned lands). This is consistent with the approach used to identify the boundaries of the existing 21 URVs in the Greenbelt Plan. 


The government is seeking ideas for future potential expansions to the Greenbelt, in addition to the Urban River Valleys proposed in ERO number 019-4485. This could specifically include:

  • Potential additions of new Urban River Valleys to the Greenbelt (e.g. East Holland River) 
  • Potential additions of new tributaries to any existing Urban River Valley (e.g., adding German Mills Creek to the existing Don River URV))
  • Potential additions of publicly owned land parcels to any existing Urban River Valleys (e.g., Erindale Park and Riverwood Park along the existing Credit River URV, Claireville Conservation Area along the existing Humber River URV )

Any suggested Greenbelt expansions that may be contemplated as a result of these additional areas of interest would be part of a future amendment to the Greenbelt Plan and would be subject to further consultation and draft mapping of proposed boundary changes.


Commenting is now closed.

The comment period was from March 24, 2022
to April 23, 2022

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