Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario Announcing The Greenbelt Protection Plan
Ontario's countryside -- its greenspace -- is one of the things that makes this province great.
It only makes sense that we take steps to protect this great resource.
That's why I'm proud to announce our draft Greenbelt Protection Plan.
Our population is growing rapidly, especially in central and southern Ontario.
By 2031, four million more people are expected to be living in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
That means another two million jobs added to our economy.
It means greater prosperity for Ontario.
But it also poses some challenges.
Some of the most productive soil in the province is already lost forever.
How can we protect what remains?
How do we balance the growth of our communities with the need to preserve farmland and greenspace?
It's clear that we need a plan to manage this growth.
We made a commitment to Ontarians to end the years of unplanned urban sprawl that the previous government delivered.
Today, I'm here to tell you -- those days are over.
We're keeping our commitment.
Currently, 800,000 acres in the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Niagara Escarpment are protected.
We're adding a million new acres -- from Rice Lake to the Niagara Peninsula -- to that protected area.
Our Greenbelt Protection Plan will protect 1.8 million acres -- an area the size of Algonquin Park -- forever.
But let me be clear -- this isn't a giant park we're creating.
Our goal is to build a legacy for our children -- one that includes:
- Protecting thousands of acres of prime farmland so farmers can prosper
- Preserving our watersheds, rivers and forests to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe
- Promoting recreation, sports and tourism by establishing a trail system, open spaces and parklands.
Ontario must have room to grow.
What we're talking about is planning intelligently for that growth.
The Greenbelt Protection Plan will help ensure the mistakes of the past don't compromise our future.
Within the Greenbelt area, our plan will set strict limits on where urban boundaries can and cannot expand.
Areas not currently zoned for urban development will be protected.
That means no new subdivisions paving over our valuable farmland.
It means no new shopping malls carved out of our forests.
But our plan will allow for expanding recreation opportunities like golf courses and ski hills.
It will allow for new roads and highways to be built to support our plan for growth.
Our plan will strike a balance between protecting our greenspaces and meeting the needs of growing communities.
I talk a lot about the future -- about the kind of Ontario we want our kids to inherit.
I believe it's our duty to leave them with an Ontario where the air is clean, the water is safe and the land grows some of the finest produce in Canada.
Where Ontario's vibrant countryside is only a short drive away from a busy downtown street.
This plan will help us live up to that duty.
It will help us build the kind of Ontario we all want to live in.
The kind of Ontario we can be proud to leave to our children.