Minister, you were quoted in the Hamilton Spectator as saying “if you want to take tender fruit lands out of the Greenbelt for development you better have a strong case for that,”. We suspect that many people who continue to be concerned about the protection of the greenbelt lands, will be reassured by your words. Can you explain what measures are in place to resist those who may wish to have these lands removed for development purposes. Particularly in light of the fact that some , including sometimes perhaps municipalities, may be very creative in terms of how they may seek to have lands removed. What is being done to ensure that the Ontario Government remains tough on its protection of the greenbelt?
The Greenbelt protects nearly two million acres of environmentally sensitive land and farmland from urban development. The Greenbelt Act does not allow for the total area of the Greenbelt Plan to be reduced.
Our government is committed to growing the Greenbelt. Our initial view is that beyond growing the Greenbelt, there is little need to change the boundaries. However, we strongly encouraged everyone to participate in the review, which included identifying any specific matters. The government will be consulting on any potential amendments to the plans in early 2016.
Can you speak to the impact that the protection of the greenbelt may have strategically in the short, medium and long term.
Protecting prime agricultural land and important natural heritage systems is crucial for a healthy sustainable Ontario.
The Greenbelt Plan identifies where major urban development growth cannot take place. Together with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan sets out a framework for managing growth and revitalizing existing urban communities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region.
The goal of the Greenbelt Plan is to protect the agricultural land base and support agriculture, to give permanent protection to natural heritage and water resource systems, and to provide for a diverse range of economic and social activities associated with rural communities, agriculture, tourism, recreation and resource uses.
We have received the Crombie Panel report and recommendations from the coordinated review, and want to thank the Panel members for their hard work. The recommendations we received will be considered in the review of the plans.
Thank-you Minister McMeekin for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian.