Simcoe County must be included in Greenbelt expansion proposal: Coalition

simcoe county greenbelt

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition is asking the provincial government to include Simcoe County in future Greenbelt expansions.

“While we are encouraged that the province did not take out lands of the existing Greenbelt and is focused on protection of water, Simcoe County has been left out of the discussion at a time when our natural environment and water are increasingly under threat from sprawl and expansion of aggregate operations – two industries that are strongly limited under Greenbelt policies,” said Margaret Prophet, executive director of the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition.

“In early 2018, we participated in the province’s consultation to expand the Greenbelt into Simcoe County.  It was clear then that our aquifers, forests, shorelines and wetlands needed to be off limits to sprawl and aggregate.”

At that time, the province agreed and proposed expansion plans which were ambitious for the Simcoe County area.

Three years later, advocates say the only thing that has changed is that the threats have increased as policies that protect our natural spaces from sprawl and protections for endangered species have weakened considerably.

“We have seen development applications threaten provincially significant wetlands, floodplains, pristine forests all while our local lakes and rivers become increasingly sick,” Prophet said. “We have reports from local Conservation Authorities that predict with a changing climate, we may see sources of water run dry and may not be able to keep up with current demand.”

The coalition says if this government is serious about protecting Ontarians it is time to ambitiously expand the Greenbelt “to stop greed from threatening our water supply with overzealous sprawl.”

“The message to the government is clear: our water and environment is a shared heritage and should not be sacrificed to benefit a few; water is core to our identity as Ontarians; the Greenbelt has been successful in protecting landscapes and water for over 15 years; and people care about their communities and want to see them succeed in a way that ensures they continue to be healthy and vibrant into the future.  We feel that includes expanding the Greenbelt over landscapes that provide drinking water and help us adapt to climate change,” the Coalition said in a news release.

“We look forward to continuing to build a better Simcoe County and working with the government to recognize that if they are true to protecting Ontarians into the future, their Greenbelt expansion needs to grow accordingly.”