Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt & Growth Plan

Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe contains some of Canada’s best farmland and world-renowned natural features, like the Niagara Escarpment. It is also one of the fastest growing regions in the country.

Four provincial land use plans work together to manage growth, protect agriculture and the environment, and support economic development in this region:

– the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe
– the Niagara Escarpment Plan
– the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan
– the Greenbelt Plan

In early 2015, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing launched a coordinated review of all four plans, leading public consultations and seeking input from all Ontarians on the future of the plans and their implementation. Click here for more information on the Coordinated Land Use Planning Review.

The Ontario Farmland Trust has contributed many recommendations for changes that could be made to these plans to improve the protection of agricultural land and enhance the support for ongoing farming activities within the Greater Golden Horseshoe region. Some highlights include:

– Coordinating policy approaches to farmland preservation and urban growth management across all of Southern Ontario to ensure agricultural land in every community receives the highest level of protection;
– Identifying and mapping an Agricultural System across the entire region that enhances the protection of agriculture and farmland;
– Introducing Agricultural Impact Assessments to prevent and mitigate damage to farm operations when settlement area expansions or aggregate pits are proposed within or near farming areas;
– Establishing firm urban boundaries in all communities, acknowledging the surplus of land currently designated for future urban growth;
– Setting higher density requirements for urban growth and holding municipalities accountable to these targets to make efficient use of land and limit urban sprawl;
– Linking land use planning objectives with Ontario’s cap-and-trade climate action strategy and the provincial ‘Farms Forever’ initiative in a way that supports farmers who want to ‘go beyond policy’ to permanently protect their land.

Read the Farmland Trust’s latest Fall 2016 submission to government here, responding to the Province’s proposed changes to the four land use plans.

Initial recommendations were made by Farmland Trust in Spring 2015, and can also be read here.

In mid-January, 2017, the Province also posted Notice #012-9247 to the Environmental Registry, building on the changes coming shortly through the Co-ordinated Review. This posting shows the proposed amendments to the Greenbelt Area boundary regulation showing specific sites where the plan boundaries are set to be modified.

To see the Ontario Farmland Trust’s comments on the Greenbelt Area boundary amendments click here.