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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Green Not Greed- a Chat with Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Ted McMeekin

As a continuation of our series Green not Greed, we reached out to Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Ted McMeekin. Enjoy our chat with the Minister. 

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. 

4 comments:

  1. I actually laughed out loud when I read your reference to "municipalities may be very creative" That is probably not how I would have characterized the situation.
    I admire your ability to remain respectful without losing any effectiveness. I wish I could be as gracious.
    And you are educating me at the same time-i had to look up "natural heritage" Now I know. Thanks
    Encouraging news from the Minister

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  2. I believe the Minister is going to get a ton of support from Hamiltonians if he stands firm and protects all lands currently in the Greenbelt. In is very clear to me that Hamilton suffers from the tail wagging the dog syndrome when it comes to the development lobby. I agree with Jim Graham; very nicely worded question and very kind. I would have said it bluntly but I think your approach works better at that level.
    Sorce

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  3. Toronto Star, Nov. 8, 2013

    Seven years ago, the Ontario Liberal government trumpeted its new law to curb urban sprawl as bold and visionary.

    “People want to see action,” David Caplan, the province’s then infrastructure minister, said after announcing the province’s fully fleshed-out Places to Grow Act in 2006.

    Acting in tandem with the Liberal plan to create a green belt, Places to Grow was designed to protect farmland in southern Ontario’s so-called Golden Horseshoe.

    Unless something drastic was done, an earlier government study had warned, rampant urban development would result in an additional 1,000 square kilometres of mainly agricultural land — an area twice as big as the entire City of Toronto — being paved over by the year 2031…

    But seven years later, it is as if nothing had ever happened.

    A new study by the Neptis Foundation, an urban think tank, calculates that the amount of prime farmland slated for urban development by 2031 has in fact increased since the government uttered its first, dire warning.

    That new total now stands at 1,071 square kilometres.


    https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2013/11/08/ontario_liberals_undermined_own_plan_to_control_sprawl_walkom.html

    http://www.neptis.org/publications/implementing-growth-plan-greater-golden-horseshoe

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  4. "Recently Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca suspended the Environmental Assessment for a highway known as the GTA West or “The 413.” The 413 would curve south-west from the 400 at King-Vaughan Road and meet the 407 and 401 roughly at Winston Churchill Blvd. It would have to cross the Greenbelt several times to get there.

    Now Minister Del Duca has appointed a panel to examine the need for the highway at all. The work of the independent panel has started, and it is expected to provide its advice to the Minster of Transportation sometime this fall.

    The review can really only conclude one thing: the 413 needs to be permanently cancelled. Here is why:

    First, Highway 413 is projected to cost $5 billion to build. Given that all major infrastructure project costs invariably exceed estimates, the capital expenses will be even higher. But that’s not the really important number. The life time cost, calculated at a 75 year lifespan, is over $55 billion. Even as a toll road it will recover less than 40 per cent of that cost. In other words, taxpayers would be on the hook to subsidize the four-laner for about $500 million each year. Instead, the $5 billion dollar capital investment could mean 24km of new rapid transit, moving millions of people every year more than this highway ever could. The $500m a year in maintenance costs could be better spent on countless provincial initiatives in transit, climate change, or agriculture.

    Second, to build the 413, part of Ontario’s nearly two million acres of permanently protected Greenbelt and adjacent farmland would have to be paved over. In the past decade alone, we have lost some 350 acres of farmland a day, or the equivalent of 131,000 football fields. We can’t afford to lose more. This highway would also destroy countless natural treasures that clean our water and filter our air. The land is simply worth more, and provides more services to Ontarians, being farmed or kept green as compared to a gridlocked highway."

    http://www.greenbelt.ca/highway_413_reexamined

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