Greenbelt expansion, a positive step to protecting farmland, water

 In Letters, Opinion

Editor:

Food and Water First was pleased to see the provincial announcement last Thursday, Dec. 7, stating that Ontario is taking action to protect important water resources in the Greater Golden Horseshoe by launching a public consultation on expanding the province’s Greenbelt. There are seven study areas including parts of Clearview, Mulmur, and Melancthon Townships, among many others. The province states the purpose of this expansion is to protect the moraines, wetlands, and headwaters that filter and store the drinking water of some 1.25 million people living in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

It was only five years ago that North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce (NDACT) and many other community groups were successful in stopping the Megaquarry, which threatened to turn some 2,300 acres of Class 1 potato farmland in Melancthon into a giant quarry going 200 feet below the water table. While the Megaquarry was successfully stopped, NDACT realized there were no regulations in force in Ontario to stop this from happening again. Realizing that the protection of farmland and source water regions was a province-wide issue, NDACT launched Food and Water First in support of legislation that would permanently protect our disappearing farmland and threatened source water.

Only 0.5 per cent of Canada’s land mass is Class 1 farmland and half of that is located here in Ontario. What few people realize is that we have been using it up, along with all our prime farmland, at the rate of 350 acres a day. At that rate, a child born this year would, by their 90s, live to see all prime farmland gone in Ontario. While the 2016 Canada Census states that rate has dropped to 175 acres a day, a step in the right direction, this is still too much.

This is why last Thursday’s announcement by the province is so important as it is a positive step forward that can lead, with public support, to better protection of our farmland and source water supplies. The province is asking for public input on their proposal and will be holding open houses for information purposes throughout January and February of 2018. Further information can be attained by clicking on the “impacts of urbanization on water resources” link at www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page17658.aspx, by e-mail at [email protected] or by phoning 1-877-711-8208.

Anyone wishing to support this proposal by the province by writing a letter or emailing Minister Mauro can also do this by going to www.protectourwaters.ca, a website supported by a consortium of environmental groups including Food and Water First, for both information and a petition that you can forward to Minister Mauro.

We urge you take positive steps to protect both our disappearing farmland and our threatened source water regions by actively supporting this Greenbelt expansion proposal by making your views known.

Brian Bell,

Creemore.

Chair – Food and Water First

Vice Chair – North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce (NDACT)

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