Press Release

In Simcoe County three of our local MPPs – MPP Dunlop, MPP Downey and MPP Mulroney – are directly responsible, as members of cabinet, for approving the Greenbelt takeouts.

March 21, 2023 - Simcoe County

Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition pleased with federal intervention on Greenbelt development

Barrie – Today, it was announced that the federal government will be doing studies on how development on the largest part of the province’s Greenbelt takeouts, the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve, will impact the Rouge National Park and other federal lands. This will likely delay the paving of the largest Greenbelt takeout and we thank the federal government for this intervention.

This is a good start at ensuring Ontario’s, and more specifically the Greater Toronto Area’s environment remains healthy and viable. The Greenbelt was created to be a legacy for our children and future generations, a safeguard for local food production and source water protection – not to be a land bank for well connected developers.


Infographic showing the benefits of Ontario's Greenbelt. Credit Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition.

Ontario’s Greenbelt provides billions of dollars worth of value each and every year. This value is directly experienced by millions in the Greater Toronto Golden Horseshoe Area, as well as indirectly by Ontarians elsewhere who visit and benefit from the economic benefits it accrues to the province.

Benefits from development within it, however, are far more narrowly distributed, going, by and large, to already wealthy individuals and their privately held companies.

The Greenbelt is, very much, a legacy to all Ontarians and future generations.

This is a significant win for the public who have been rallying, phoning, messaging and organizing showing their care for the Greenbelt is to be taken seriously, a public that has been completely shut out of this decision. (Comments on the Environmental Registry regarding changes to the Greenbelt were overwhelmingly opposed, but not a single change or modification to Greenbelt takeouts came as a result.)

Locally, our coalition hosted 15 rallies and actions in two weeks across many of Simcoe’s communities and supporters have been continuing to visit MPPs, phone representatives and write emails. Again, this is in line with sentiment across Ontario, with a public that feels betrayed by a government that promised it would not develop on the Greenbelt. In fact, a recent poll by EKOS, commissioned by the David Suzuki Foundation, found that 75% of residents across the GTA believe that the Greenbelt should be better protected – better protected, not less. And definitely not used as a piggy bank to enrich wealthy, connected developers.

Our coalition’s mission has always been to ensure clean air, clean water, and a liveable climate provide the foundation for accessible food and housing and a vibrant, dynamic, and sustainable economy. After all, without clean air, water, and a livable climate the rest simply won’t matter.

Our public servants need to be accountable for betraying public trust and making decisions that threaten our shared future.

Map showing locations of highways that the Ford government plans to build, and the impact they would have on the Greenbelt and on farmland. Credit Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition.

There are 3 highways in the pipeline for the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area of Ontario. All of them will significantly impact the Greenbelt, as well as prime farmland.

In Simcoe County three of our local MPPs – MPP Dunlop, MPP Downey and MPP Mulroney – are directly responsible, as members of cabinet, for approving the Greenbelt takeouts. And while all MPPs in caucus are accountable, these three, along with their cabinet colleagues, had the final say and final approval. The promise to not touch the Greenbelt was broken intentionally.

And what does this broken promise represent? Not pursuit of more affordable homes, which is how it’s being spun. Study after study makes it crystal clear that there is more than enough land already zoned to meet this demand. This is about exploiting a legitimate housing crisis to enrich a few.

Let’s make no mistake, this announcement is the result of public pressure and community organizing. We will keep pushing with our supporters to protect our communities and public health. Our hope is that this announcement will strengthen the will to hold this government accountable and return due process and decisions made in the public’s interest to the core of what elected office means.

Beyond political stripes, the majority of the public support the Greenbelt and what it provides to all of us, now and into the future. Our hope is that the MPPs that have influence and accountability will see that the decision to open up the Greenbelt to developers was wrongheaded and will take action to reverse their decision. This is what the public wants and as a public servant this is what they agreed to do.