Expanded Greenbelt Would Help Protect our Water Resources

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Published in the Fall/Winter edition of The Tiny Cottager

"We hope that the province gives particular attention to Recommendation 71 of the Crombie Report, which highlights the potential to grow the Greenbelt beyond its existing boundary based on areas of ecological and hydrological significance. The Report from a panel led by former Toronto mayor David Crombie was received by the Ontario government in December 2015. It made 87 recommendations, including expansion of the Greenbelt to protect more lands from development and tighten controls on settlement expansions.

Simcoe County would make a strong candidate to be a part of Greenbelt expansion, based on the panel’s key considerations:

- Protection of areas that sequester and store carbon or protect and improve resilience to climate change: The county has vast wetland complexes of local, provincial and international significance such as Minesing Wetlands, Wye Marsh and Tiny Marsh, which are significant carbon sinks. Natural coverage in sub-watershed is high compared to every other region in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. This network of forests and ground cover provides a front line defence against climate change.

- Rural Source Water Protection Priorities: The Oro Moraine, which directly supplies drinking water to over 20,000 people, is also the source of numerous watercourses feeding both Lake Simcoe and Severn Sound. The Nottawasaga watershed provides water for daily use for many rural Simcoe communities and irrigation for many agricultural operations. All residents of Tiny Township depend on groundwater for daily use, making it imperative that recharge areas and aquifers are adequately protected through land use policies.

- Protection of adjoining areas of critical hydrological significance, such as important surface water areas, key headwaters, moraines, groundwater recharge areas, highly vulnerable aquifers etc.: A large portion of the Lake Simcoe watershed that is currently outside of the Greenbelt is considered medium-to-high vulnerability for groundwater supply and contains many highly vulnerable aquifers. The Nottawasaga Valley watershed contains many highly vulnerable aquifers especially around the Minesing Wetlands and areas to the north and west of it (Source: South Georgian Bay Source Water Protection Plan). It must not be forgotten that a main vision of the Greenbelt was to protect against the loss and fragmentation of the agricultural land base and support agriculture as the predominant land use. Tiny Township is rich in productive farmland. Based on the Crombie panel’s recommendations, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is potentially looking at expanding the Greenbelt to protect water features that are “under pressure from urban growth”."

Read the rest, here.

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