“Proposed Greenbelt Expansion to Include Don and Humber River Valleys
26 February 2010
Ontario Government News”
“Don, Humber River Valleys to get Greenbelt Protection
27 February 2010
Ontario recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of its Greenbelt. To mark the occasion, the City of Toronto has applied for two of its major rivers, the Don and the Humber (including their valleys), to be added to the lands protected under the Greenbelt Plan. The Don and Humber river valleys are crucial to Ontario’s ecological integrity, as they comprise a watershed that connects the Greenbelt to the Great Lakes and the Oak Ridges Moraine. Toronto is applying for protection of the Don and Humber river valleys under a set of criteria established by the province in 2008, which are used to asses requests from municipalities to add unprotected lands to the Greenbelt Plan. Currently, only the Rouge River Valley is within the Greenbelt Plan boundary. Adding the Don and Humber would result in the incorporation of all of Toronto’s river systems into the Greenbelt Plan. The Don and Humber could be incorporated into the Greenbelt as early as the end of 2010.
As part of the Greenbelt, the river valleys would be protected from pollution and habitat loss caused by urban sprawl. Inclusion in the Greenbelt would also prevent municipal governments from reducing the level of environmental protection in the river valleys and create regulatory stability in the affected regions.
CIELAP has extensively researched Ontario’s Greenbelt, as well as similar regional conservation plans in other jurisdictions, in collaboration with the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. This month, CIELAP released an update of its 2008 Ontario’s Greenbelt in an International Context report, which argued that Ontario’s Greenbelt is currently the world’s strongest and most effective. Greenbelts in general can provide multiple benefits, not only curbing sprawl, land degradation and pollution, but also encouraging agriculture, community-building and environmentally safe recreational activities. Greenbelts can benefit the economy of a region, as well as its environment. We applaud the success of the Greenbelt Plan, but also stress that urban natural features should be given similar protections, as they are vital to the environmental health and resilience of cities.
CIELAP report link: http://cielap.org/pub/pub_internationalgreenbelt2010.php