5 Reasons Why We Need to Protect Our Greenbelt

There has been a lot of talk about development on the Greenbelt lately and if that doesn’t make you nervous, it should. Destroying the Greenbelt by building new subdivisions on it would be a serious mistake. Here’s why:

1. Housing built on farmland is not the housing we need
Independent studies show that people prefer small homes and short commutes over expensive estate-style homes and long drives. The new provincial Growth Plan encourages housing closer to transit and city centres and we need more of this type of development.

Forest and wetlands, Greenbelt © Tim Hagen

2. Sprawl is bad for your health and the environment
Urban sprawl replaces the farms and forests that provide us with local food and clean air. Spread-out, car-dependent communities result in three times the greenhouse gas emissions of compact cities. Living far from work negatively affects our environment, our health and our quality of life.

Mount Wolfe Farm lookout © David Coulson

3. Urban sprawl costs you money
Building and maintaining far flung roads and sewers drive up municipal debt, which means higher taxes. Not to mention the cost of owning and maintaining a compact car for commuting is estimated at over $8,000 per year.

Townhouses being built © David Coulson

4. Cities thrive on local residents
In cities like Toronto, a wage of $15.00 an hour barely pays rent. Cities need more affordable housing options near transit so workers of all income levels can enjoy and contribute to our vibrant cities and help reduce environmentally damaging sprawl.

Fresh farm crops in Niagara Region © Tim Hagen

5. The Greenbelt is working; don’t dismantle it.
Established 12 years ago, the Greenbelt has been protecting natural areas and restricting development on farmland. We have since benefited with local foods, naturally filtered water and more natural spaces to explore.

Over 125,000 hectares of land are available for development within the Greater Golden Horseshoe. There is no need to open up the Greenbelt.

Danielle Duchin is a communications intern at Ontario Nature.