Despite 10 years of developing laws to promote more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable housing development in and around the GTHA, a new report shows that urban sprawl is still a major threat to our Greenbelt.
A recent Neptis Foundation report shows that large swaths of land directly outside of the Greenbelt are being primed for sprawl-style development. The Neptis researchers found that in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, over 31,000 hectares of mostly farmland and wilderness spaces are being prepared for unsustainable sprawl-style development. This is an area larger than all of Mississauga.
The cause is a little loophole in the Province’s Growth Plan which does not require rural municipalities to protect these lands from sprawl.
As a result, developers have been gobbling up land and preparing it for development.These are lands that should be added to the Greenbelt. We rely on them for growing our food and for vital ecological services, like cleaning out water. But instead of adding more protection to these lands, they are open for planned developments that will likely create expensive, single-family homes on sprawling lots, far away from jobs, community services, transit and existing water and sewage infrastructure. In other words, the houses will be expensive to service, located far from existing urban areas, and require residents to drive everywhere.
The Province of Ontario could easily stop this by closing this loophole in the Growth Plan.
Instead, as the Neptis Report reveals, the Province is actually considering a change to the Growth Plan that would legally recognize this sprawl-style development. To make matters worse, the proposed change would also allow municipalities to count this kind of sprawling development towards meeting their “intensification” targets, specifically designed to curb sprawl by promoting higher density home development.
TEA is working with the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance (OGA) to let the Province know Ontarians want them to protect the Greenbelt and to stop making it easy for developers to get away with sprawl-style development on our precious farmland and natural areas.
Stay tuned for how you can help.