Expanding the Greenbelt as part of a natural solution to climate change

Expanding Ontario’s Greenbelt would be an important tool in the fight against climate breakdown.

The Greenbelt Does More Than You Might Think

Many people know the Greenbelt as a place that protects farmland and preserves green spaces. To many it is seen as a last refuge of vast tracts of land that allow for recreational activities and local food production.

However, the Greenbelt, by preserving those lands, provides services to our communities essentially without charge.

These services, known as “ecosystem” services,” include water and air purification, flooding control and protecting habitat of threatened species. The Greenbelt’s ecosystem services are valued at $3.2 billion per year.

We simply cannot afford to replace what the Greenbelt does for free with man made solutions which are not as effective or efficient.

Photo of flooding. Credit Nazrin B-va.

As climate change becomes increasingly severe, and our communities experience more flooding, more stress on our natural systems and extreme storm events as a result. We will need to think about solutions that are efficient, effective and improve the living conditions of human and natural communities. That is where an expanded Greenbelt comes in.

How the Greenbelt Helps

By limiting where development and aggregate extraction occurs, the Greenbelt policies ensure that two of our major GHG contributors (transportation and housing) are restricted while our natural systems are preserved and allowed to perform their functions uninhibited.

The more intact wetlands, forest systems, moraines and natural heritage systems we include in the Greenbelt, the more these ecosystems will be protected and can help us adapt and mitigate climate change.

Billions of Dollars Every Year

In fact, the existing system of wetlands, farm fields and forests within the Greenbelt sequesters roughly $111.17 B of carbon dioxide.

Each year, the Greenbelt sequesters close to an additional $52 M of carbon dioxide.

Imagine how much more carbon dioxide we could sequester if we protected even more land.

With the advent of Minister Zoning Orders (MZOs) and weakened environmental policies, the natural systems and farmland we have outside of the Greenbelt is not guaranteed protection.

A report we commissioned with the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition found that only 14% of Simcoe County’s green space and water resources were strongly protected. However, the policy changes mentioned previously, put even that 14% at risk.

Choosing How to Grow

We know that Ontario and our region is slated to grow.

We also know that the places we love including Lake Simcoe and our forests and watersheds are declining in health.

Our farmland is being replaced with strip malls and urban sprawl at an increasing rate.

If trends continue and we easily offer up our wetlands, forests, farmland and shorelines for sprawl and “progress” what will be left?

Related Content

Photo of a highway bridge. Credit Ajai Arif.
Planning

The Bradford Bypass – Clearing the Air

There are a lot of misconceptions, myths, and misunderstandings regarding the role that highways and cars play in our economy, and the impact they have on our environment and communities. Many of these are coming to the fore with the Bradford Bypass. Here we address some of them.

Read More »
Aerial photo of an empty parking lot. Credit Anita Denunzio.
Planning

Sprawl and Ontario’s Greenbelt

We’ve been dealing with losing our natural spaces and farmland to sprawl in this region for a long time. It’s been the main way we’ve grown our communities for decades, and we continue to do so, even though it’s outdated and extremely wasteful, today.

Read More »
Photo of flooding. Credit Nazrin B-va.
Climate Change

The Greenbelt and Climate Change

Many people know the Greenbelt as a place that protects farmland and preserves green spaces. To many it is seen as a last refuge of vast tracts of land that allow for recreational activities and local food production.

However, the Greenbelt, by preserving those lands, provides services to our communities essentially without charge.

Read More »
Picture of a field with the sun setting. Photo by Federico Respini.
Greenbelt

Press Release: Growing the Greenbelt

The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition and allies across the region and province have strongly advocated for the expansion of the Greenbelt since 2017. In fact, over 90 groups including prominent individuals such as David Crombie released a report earlier today which outlines five requirements the provincial government must follow to ensure that Greenbelt expansion improves the environmental and financial health of Ontarians…

Read More »
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments