Proposed Amendment to the Greenbelt Plan - Growing the size of the Greenbelt

ERO number
019-4485
Notice type
Policy
Act
Greenbelt Act, 2005
Posted by
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Notice stage
Proposal
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 proposed changes to the Greenbelt Plan (including the schedules) that could add new 13 new Urban River Valley areas to the Greenbelt.

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 deliver on this commitment, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) is launching a phase 2 consultation to grow the Greenbelt to seek feedback on proposed amendments to the Greenbelt Plan and Greenbelt Area boundary regulation (Ontario Regulation 59/05) to add 13 Urban River Valley areas to the Greenbelt.

The maps available for this consultation outline proposed amendments to the Greenbelt Plan Schedules 1, 2 and 4 and proposed amendments to the Greenbelt Area boundary regulation. Proposed maps can be found on Ontario.ca/page/greenbelt-maps.

While this ERO posting relates specifically to the proposed amendment to the Greenbelt Plan, there are two related ERO postings as part of the phase 2 consultation:

  • ERO number 019-4483 seeking feedback on changes to the boundary of the Greenbelt Area through a proposed amendment to the Greenbelt Area boundary regulation O. Reg. 59/05.
  • ERO number 019-4803 seeking ideas for adding more Urban River Valleys to the Greenbelt.

Context

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. Urban River Valleys (URVs)- added to the Plan in 2013 and 2017
    • URVs connect the Greenbelt to the Great Lakes, inland lakes and areas beyond through urban areas that are outside the Greenbelt.
    • 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 URV.
    • While some privately owned lands may be included in URVs, URV policies apply only to publicly owned lands and rely on municipal official plan policies.
    • URV lands are mostly designated in municipal official plans as parks, open space, recreation, conservation and/or environmental protection.
  2. 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:
    • Agricultural System
    • Natural System
    • Settlement Area

In addition, there are general policies and parkland, open space and trails policies that apply to the Protected Countryside; however, the parkland, open space and trails policies apply across the Greenbelt.

Growing the Greenbelt

During phase 1 of the consultation, the Ministry sought feedback on ways to grow the size and enhance the quality of the Greenbelt, which included seeking ideas for adding, expanding and further protecting the Greenbelt.

At this time, the Ministry is proceeding with a proposal to consult on adding 13 Urban River Valley areas to the Greenbelt Plan as part of phase 2.

For more information on what we heard please visit ERO 019-3136 - Consultation on growing the size of the Greenbelt

Policy proposal

The Greenbelt Act, 2005 requires consultation with affected municipalities, public bodies and the public on any proposed Greenbelt Plan amendments.

During phase 2 of the growing the Greenbelt consultation, the Ministry is seeking feedback on proposed amendments to the Greenbelt Plan, that could add 13 new URV areas:

  • Addition of Stoney Creek in Hamilton as a new URV
  • Adding Battlefield Creek in Hamilton as a new URV
  • Expansion of Wilmot Creek in Clarington
  • Expansion of Soper Creek and Bowmanville Creek in Clarington
  • Expansion of Harmony Creek URV by adding Darlington Provincial Park, partially located in Oshawa and partially located in Clarington
  • Expansion of Oshawa Creek URVs in Oshawa
  • Extension of Fourteen Mile Creek URV in Oakville
  • Provincially identified URV expansions including:
    • Expansion of Don River URV in Toronto by adding
      • Burke Brooke
      • Wilket Creek
      • Taylor-Massey Creek
    • Expansion of Humber River URV in Toronto by adding:
      • Humber Creek
      • Black Creek

See Urban River Valleys maps and links in Supporting Materials below or visit Greenbelt maps | ontario.ca.

Approach to Identifying New or Expanded Urban River Valleys to the Greenbelt

The proposed URVs were identified based on Greenbelt Plan policies, feedback from municipalities and conservation authorities, technical input from partner ministries, phase 1 consultation results, and other site characteristics (e.g., ownership, use).

The Key Factors considered in identifying proposed URVs include:

  • Most additions are supported by a municipal council resolution and/or staff report from municipalities and/or conservation authorities. Additional URVs have also been identified by the province.
  • The proposed URV
    • 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,
    • are connected 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, and
    • 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 Key Principles for Expanding the Greenbelt identified in phase 1 were also applied. In particular,

  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. Engaging 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

The Ministry welcomes feedback on the proposed new and expanded URVs.

Other related information

For more information on the proposed amendment to the Greenbelt Area boundary regulation to add 13 new URV areas, please see ERO number 019-4483 - Proposed Amendment to the Greenbelt Area boundary regulation - Growing the size of the Greenbelt.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

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

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