Township head planner sees red on greenbelt expansion

 In News

Clearview’s director of Community Services Mara Burton referred to the proposed expansion of the greenbelt “a complete failure”.

The province was seeking input on the expansion plan until March 7. Burton presented fervent opposition the proposal at Monday night’s council meeting.

Expressing frustration about another proposed layer of “red tape”, Burton said the Greater Golden Horseshoe is already possibly one of the most regulated areas in the world.

“The Greenbelt Plan came into effect in 2005 prior to Places to Grow for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Municipalities are of the understanding that the Greenbelt Plan was a stopgap measure before the later regulatory document came into effect. In fact, there are at least 25 Acts plus additional legislation that protects water for future generations,” writes Burton in her letter to the province. “Given the multitude of Acts, Legislation and regulations covering Ontario and given the updating of the [Places to Grow growth plan] in 2017 and its inclusion of the protection of key hydrologic areas, key hydrologic features and key natural heritage features, is there really any need for the Greenbelt Plan and policies to expand?”

Within Clearview, the study area includes township land between Creemore and New Lowell, including Avening, Brentwood and Old Sunnidale (referred to as “Area 7: West of Minesing), and land in the east part of the Township, from New Lowell up to Wasaga Beach (referred to as Area 5: Nottawasaga River Corridor).

“Where these features overlapped and where the province believes there will be growth pressure, is what determined the study area,” reported Burton.

“I am concerned about the position this puts municipal planners in,” she said, adding that by over regulating municipalities are hamstringed in what they can approve and there is a fear that it will lead to illegal building activity. While the province imposes many layers of regulations, she said, no tools for enforcement are offered and the municipality is limited in its resources. It can also be very costly, she said, for property owners to meet the onerous requirements for permits and studies.

“I think it’s too much,” said Burton, calling the added layer of control burdensome and unnecessary.

She said the municipality is already limited in its ability to meet the needs of potential builders. It is heavily regulated in how it uses employment lands, for example, and is limited in its ability to expand settlement areas, and as a result there are challenges in expanding the economy and diversifying housing.

“How the province can limit development and say they are concerned about affordable housing is backwards,” said Burton… “What’s really happening is we are reducing our standard of living.”

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  • Donna Baylis

    Today, common sense seems in short supply especially when it comes to land use planning. Fresh food, clean air and clean water are necessities of all life. It is an unfortunate reality that decades of activism can be wiped out with the stroke of a pen. Greenbelt legislation is striving to protect those necessities for today and for the future. While not yet perfect, Greenbelt legislation and the proposed Bluebelt reflect efforts to protect our standard of living. Our children and their children deserve and demand it.

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