Proposed Amendments to the Greenbelt Plan

ERO number
019-6216
Notice type
Policy
Act
Greenbelt Act, 2005
Posted by
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Notice stage
Proposal
Proposal posted
Comment period
November 4, 2022 - December 4, 2022 (30 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:

November 4, 2022
to December 4, 2022

Proposal summary

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is seeking feedback on proposed changes to the Greenbelt Plan that would remove or redesignate 15 areas of land and add lands in the Paris Galt Moraine area.

Proposal details

The government introduced the More Homes Built Faster plan, which takes bold action to advance our plan to address the housing crisis by building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. The government is taking further action to support this goal by launching a consultation on proposed changes to the Greenbelt that would support our municipal partners to plan for responsible growth and help build housing faster and in a targeted manner, while leading to an overall expansion of the Greenbelt.

Ontario is expected to grow by more than two million people by 2031, with approximately 1.5 million people living in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region. To accommodate that growth and support the building of more homes, our government is proposing to remove or redesignate 15 areas of land totaling approximately 7,400 acres from the edge of the Greenbelt Area that are serviced or adjacent to services and will be used to build housing in the near term​.

Should these lands be removed from the Greenbelt, the landowners will be expected to develop detailed plans to build housing and move forward with the project quickly. It is the government’s expectation that construction of these new homes will begin on these lands by no later than 2025, and that significant progress on approvals and implementation be achieved by the end of 2023. It is the government’s expectation that the proponents would fully fund necessary infrastructure upfront.

If these conditions are not met, the government will begin the process to return the properties back to the Greenbelt.

If this proposal is adopted, it would result in the construction of approximately 50,000 or more new homes in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) is seeking feedback on proposed amendments to the Greenbelt Plan, Greenbelt Area boundary regulation (O. Reg. 59/05), and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (O. Reg. 140/02) that would:

  • Remove lands from the Greenbelt Area that could be suitable for residential development in the near term 
  • Add lands in the Paris Galt Moraine to the Greenbelt Area, designated as Protected Countryside with a Natural Heritage System  
  • Redesignate lands in the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan Area that could be suitable for residential development in the near term

The proposed strategic removal of lands from the Greenbelt Area was considered in the context of the objectives and policies of the Greenbelt Plan and the requirement in the Greenbelt Act, 2005 that the total amount of land within the Greenbelt Area shall not be reduced (See Amendments to the Greenbelt Plan below).  

MMAH previously consulted on adding 13 Urban River Valley (URV) areas to the Greenbelt in April 2022 (see ERO Posting 019-4485: Growing the size of the Greenbelt). The area of the proposed Paris Galt Moraine lands would be in addition to these URV areas, totalling 9,400 acres for an overall expansion to the Greenbelt of approximately 2000 acres. The total lands proposed to be added would be greater than or equal to the area of the lands proposed for removal from the Greenbelt Plan under this proposal (see Amendments to the Greenbelt Plan below). 

While this ERO posting relates specifically to the proposed amendment to the Greenbelt Plan, there are two related ERO postings regarding the proposed adjustments to the Greenbelt Area boundary and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan regulations:  

The maps available for this consultation are posted in supporting materials below and outline:

  • 15 areas proposed for strategic removal/redesignation (Redesignations/Removal Maps 1-11)
  • Lands in the Paris Galt Moraine proposed to be added to the Greenbelt (Addition Map A)
  • A contextual map of the geography (Overview Map)

Policy proposal

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

Lands proposed for removal:

MMAH is proposing to remove the following lands from the Greenbelt Area to support the plan to build 1.5 million homes while also taking a balanced approach to smart growth (See corresponding Redesignation/Removal Maps 1-11 in supporting materials below):

Area/Location Map Number
Land located in the Township of King east of Dufferin Street, south of Miller’s Sideroad and west of Bathurst Street Map 1
Land located in City of Vaughan north and east of Teston Road and Pine Valley Drive Map 2
Land located in City of Richmond Hill east of Leslie Street, north of Elgin Mills Road East, west of Highway 404 Map 3
Land located in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville at 11861 and 12045 McCowan Road Map 4
Land located in City of Markham at 5474 19th Ave. at the northeast corner of 19th Ave. and McCowan Road Map 4
Land located in City of Markham at 10235, 10378 and 10541 Hwy 48 Map 5
Land located in the City of Markham at 10379 Kennedy Road Map 5
Land located in the City of Pickering south of Highway 407, west of West Duffins Creek and north of the CP Belleville rail line Map 6
Land located in Town of Ajax located at 765 and 775 Kingston Road East Map
Land located in Clarington at the northeast corner of Nash Road and Hancock Road Map 8
Land located in the City of Hamilton south of Garner Road West, west of Fiddlers Green Road, east of Shaver Road in the vicinity of Book Road

Map 9

Land located in the City of Hamilton south of White Church Road East, west of Miles Road, north of Chippewa Road East, east of Upper James Street Map 10
Land in the Town of Grimsby south of the GO rail line, west of Oakes Road North, north of Main Street West, east of Kelson Ave North Map 11
Land located in the City of Hamilton at 331 and 339 Fifty Road Map 11

Some of the lands listed above are also subject to policies under the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan - please see ERO 019-6218 for more details on proposed amendments. 

Lands proposed for redesignation: 

MMAH is also proposing to amend the designation of lands located in the Town of Grimsby at 502 Winston Road. These lands are currently designated as Specialty Crop (Niagara Peninsula Tender Fruit and Grape Area) and Natural Heritage System in the Greenbelt and would be redesignated to Town/Village under this proposal. See Map 11 in supporting materials below. 

Lands proposed to be added:  

MMAH is proposing to add lands in the Paris Galt Moraine to the Greenbelt Area, which would be designated as Protected Countryside with a Natural Heritage System. See Proposed Addition Map A in supporting materials for a map of the proposed lands to be added to the Greenbelt.

The proposal would capture one settlement area, which would be designated as a Hamlet under the Greenbelt Plan’s settlement hierarchy.

MMAH is also considering targeted policy changes to the Greenbelt Plan to support the implementation of the proposed addition (e.g. existing uses). Section 4.5 and other provisions of the Greenbelt Plan would apply to existing uses (as defined in section 7 of the Greenbelt Plan) in the Paris Galt Moraine area. Additionally, transition provisions are proposed to be added that would address decisions on applications related to previous site-specific approvals in the Paris Galt Moraine area, similar to the existing provision in section 5.2.1 of the Greenbelt Plan. See supporting materials for more information on Greenbelt Plan policies.

An amendment to the Greenbelt Area boundary regulation (O. Reg. 59/05) has been proposed to facilitate these changes. See Proposed Amendment to the Greenbelt Area Boundary Regulation at [ERO 019-6217] and in Related ERO notices below

Context: The Greenbelt Plan

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 of area covered by the Greenbelt Plan. In addition to general policies that apply across the Greenbelt, there are three geographic specific policy areas:
    • Agricultural System
    • Natural System
    • Settlement Area
  2. Urban River Valleys (URVs) -- The Greenbelt Plan recognizes the importance of URVs in connecting the Greenbelt to the Great Lakes and inland lakes. Policies apply to publicly owned lands only in the URVs.

Amendments to the Greenbelt Plan

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 the 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.

Under the Greenbelt Act, 2005, amendments cannot reduce the total land area covered by the Greenbelt Plan. The proposed Paris Galt Moraine area, in addition to the 13 Urban River Valley areas that were previously consulted on in March 2022 would be greater than or equal to the land area removed from the Greenbelt Plan under this proposal. See ERO 019-4485 for more information on past proposals on new and expanded Urban River Valleys.

Section 5.6 of the Greenbelt Plan provides that amendments to the Greenbelt Plan could be considered outside of the 10-year review in the event of major new Provincial policy, legislation, or regulation that creates the need for an amendment. It also contemplates amendments that are made for the purpose of extending Greenbelt Plan policy coverage to lands which may be added to the Greenbelt.

Context: Policy Proposal

Strategic Removals

The government considered properties within the Greenbelt as candidate sites for future and near-term housing development against criteria that included:

  • Greater than 1:1 offset must be achieved to ensure overall Greenbelt expansion
  • The lands are adjacent to existing settlement areas
  • The lands are adjacent to the edge of the Greenbelt area boundary
  • The lands have the potential ability to be serviced in the near-term with local infrastructure upgrades to be entirely funded by proponents
  • The lands proposed for removal have the characteristics that would enable housing to be built in the near-term.

The Paris Galt Moraine

The Paris Galt Moraine is an area of rolling, hilly terrain which is significant because its high ground forms the headwaters for many rivers and streams. With its hummocky surface enhancing infiltration, and sand and gravel deposits facilitating groundwater flow, the Paris Galt Moraine helps to promote recharge to the groundwater aquifers that support drinking water supply, local ecosystems, agriculture, growth management, and more.

MMAH consulted on ways to grow the Greenbelt in February 2021, which included a study area focused on the Paris Galt Moraine as a priority. Following further analysis, the Ministry identified a need to further understand how the addition of the Paris Galt Moraine could impact the priority to create housing and jobs. See ERO 019-3136 for more information on the Growing the Greenbelt initiative.

The proposed amendment to extend Greenbelt Plan policy coverage to a portion of the Paris Galt Moraine uses an incremental and measured approach; so municipalities can plan for the right mix of homes faster and in a targeted manner. The proposed Paris Galt Moraine area captures one (1) settlement area, which is proposed to be designated as a Hamlet to reflect the Greenbelt Plan’s settlement hierarchy and approach to settlement areas.

    Brisbane: Hamlet

See supporting materials below for more information on the settlement areas in the Greenbelt.

The proposed Paris Galt Moraine boundary was mapped using both natural (e.g. natural features, natural heritage system) and surveyable (e.g. lot and concession lines, roads) boundaries to support implementation.

Should the Greenbelt Area be amended to include the Paris Galt Moraine area, it would be designated as Protected Countryside and would, in some areas, be subject to more specific direction under the Greenbelt Plan than policies that currently exist in A Place to Grow (e.g. more restrictive settlement expansion policies, municipal official plan policies cannot be more restrictive than the Greenbelt Plan on mineral aggregate resources and agricultural uses) or the Provincial Policy Statement. Please see supporting materials for more information on Greenbelt Plan policies.

Analysis of Regulatory Impact:

The anticipated regulatory impacts of the proposal are positive. The proposed removal or redesignation of 15 areas of land and adding lands in the Paris Galt Moraine area is intended to remove regulatory burdens for municipalities in order to effectively direct growth, optimize investments in infrastructure and support needed housing. Lands to be removed would no longer need to comply with the prohibitions and requirements of the Greenbelt Plan. There would be some additional burden placed on the lands proposed to be added, though some of these lands are already constrained by existing requirements. While there are no direct administrative costs associated with this proposal there would be a small burden on municipalities to update their official plans to reflect the new boundaries of the Greenbelt Plan.

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

The comment period was from November 4, 2022
to December 4, 2022

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