New moratorium on zoning changes is first step toward permanent greenbelt for the Golden Horseshoe

Archived Release

New moratorium on zoning changes is first step toward permanent greenbelt for the Golden Horseshoe

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

QUEEN'S PARK, ON, Dec. 16 - A new moratorium on zoning changes within the Golden Horseshoe would be a first step toward the creation of a permanent Golden Horseshoe greenbelt, Municipal Affairs Minister John Gerretsen and Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky announced today. "We will enhance the quality of life for people in the Golden Horseshoe by containing sprawl and encouraging smart growth," Minister Gerretsen said today. "This will include the creation of a permanent greenbelt, which will protect hundreds of thousands acres of environmentally sensitive land and farmland." "Gridlock and urban sprawl contribute to Ontario's environmental problems," said Minister Dombrowsky. "This government understands that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand." Pending a final decision on the lands to be protected, the government introduced today legislation that, if passed, would mean that for up to a year there could be no new urban development on rural and agricultural land unless it had already been zoned for development. The proposed Greenbelt Protection Act, 2003 would also permit extensive public consultations to ensure smart and sustainable growth in the future. The Golden Horseshoe grows by more than 115,000 people every year. Within 15 years, it will be the third largest urban region in North America, after only New York and Los Angeles. Too often under the previous government, developments got the green light that communities did not always want, frequently could not sustain, and often regretted, Gerretsen said. "Our economy cannot thrive if goods and vehicles are stuck in gridlock. Our families cannot thrive if parents are stuck on the highway or there's no greenspace left to enjoy," he said. "We are acting today to bring real, positive change to the quality of life in the Golden Horseshoe." The government is also imposing a Minister's zoning order on the greenbelt study area to provide immediate protection while the legislation is considered by the House. Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- NEW MORATORIUM ON ZONING CHANGES IS FIRST STEP TOWARD PERMANENT GREENBELT FOR THE GOLDEN HORSESHOE The McGuinty government followed up on its Throne Speech commitment today to end eight years of Tory urban sprawl by taking the first steps to create a 600,000-acre Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. In addition to an immediate moratorium on zoning changes within the Golden Horseshoe, the government also introduced the Greenbelt Protection Act, 2003. The proposed legislation, a major step goal toward managing growth, protecting the environment and improving quality of life in the Golden Horseshoe, would: - create a greenbelt study area in the Golden Horseshoe including the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Niagara Escarpment and the Niagara tender fruit lands; - establish a moratorium that would temporarily prevent new urban uses outside existing urban boundaries on rural and agricultural lands within key portions of the study area; - allow the Minister of Municipal Affairs to stay proceedings regarding sensitive lands within the study area; and - strengthen protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine by clarifying provisions of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001 and extending the authority of the government to stay Ontario Municipal Board appeals on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Greenbelt Study Area The proposed greenbelt legislation provides for the creation of a study area that would include Toronto, Durham, York, Peel, Halton, Hamilton, the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Niagara tender fruit lands and the Niagara Escarpment. The area would be the subject of extensive future consultations that will determine which lands should be included in the greenbelt. Greenbelt Development Moratorium The proposed legislation imposes a moratorium on applications that permit urban uses on rural and agricultural lands within the study area that are outside current urban boundaries. It would also give the Minister of Municipal Affairs the ability to stay development proceedings on sensitive lands within the study area. The moratorium would not include land already protected by legislation, such as the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Niagara Escarpment. The government is imposing a Minister's zoning order on the greenbelt study area to provide immediate protection while the legislation is considered by the House. Regulation of Site Alteration The proposed greenbelt legislation would include the ability to prevent site alteration, such as grading or removal of topsoil, as well as tree cutting or removal within the greenbelt study area. Transition Issues The legislation would strengthen protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine by clarifying portions of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001 to ensure that all planning approvals on the moraine are consistent with the environmental protection provisions in the Act. The Planning Act The greenbelt initiative would complement proposed amendments to the Planning Act. The new legislation would prevent developers from forcing unwanted urban expansions and ensure that provincial planning policies are not ignored. Greenbelt Consultations Extensive public consultations on the greenbelt study area will follow introduction of legislation. Disponible en fran├žais www.mah.gov.on.caFor further information: Contacts: David Ross, Minister Gerretsen's Office, (416) 585-6333; Audrey Bennett, Ministry of Municipal Affairs, (416) 585-6014; Arthur Chamberlain, Minister Dombrowsky's Office, (416) 314-5139; Mark Rabbior, Ministry of the Environment, (416) 314-6666