Press Release: Local Coalition Welcomes Provincial Policy to Grow the Greenbelt

Barrie, ON – The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition (SCGC) is pleased with the government’s plan to potentially grow the Greenbelt further in Ontario.  The amendments released today in response to the Crombie panel’s report outline a change to policies that could see the Greenbelt grow outside of the GTA into areas such as Simcoe County.  This proposed policy would prioritize protecting areas of ecological and hydrological significance including vulnerable aquifers, moraines and significant wetlands.

“From Wasaga Beach to Lake Simcoe, Nottawasaga River to the Minesing Wetlands, Simcoe is a virtual treasure trove of unique and fragile water systems that are necessary to Simcoe’s residents and economy.  Since Simcoe County was largely passed over in the creation of the Greenbelt in 2002, despite our rich agricultural and natural heritage resources, we are pleased that there is an opportunity now for Simcoe County to be more fully included,” says SCGC co-chair Margaret Prophet.

With 30 organizations from across the county and province representing citizens as ratepayers, farmers, environmentalists and naturalists, and with Simcoe slated to expand to 667,000 people by 2031, the SCGC believes that an expanded Greenbelt is necessary to protect our water, agricultural,  and natural heritage resources.

 “Whether it’s a business, a farm or a home, we all need water.  With local source water protection plans showing concerns about the quantity and quality of our water, now is the time to act before it is too late.  Protecting our water resources with more stringent policies should not be a tough decision or a political game.  We don’t need to follow California’s water woes – we can begin to be better today.”

Local Ontario Federation of Agriculture member, and founder of Ontario Farmland Preservation, Bernard Pope, also sees today’s announcements as positive for the agricultural community: “I’m glad that the province is planning to put measures in place to better support agriculture – these are important steps to ensure long term viability of the number one value-added sector in the province.  I also welcome the discussion that will ensue in Simcoe County about growing the Greenbelt.  With high amounts of urban expansion occurring and being proposed around the County our farmland is continuously under threat.  An expanded Greenbelt would give farmers greater certainty about the future and stop the fragmentation and loss of Simcoe’s valuable farmland.”

Couchiching Conservancy’s Executive Director, Mark Bisset notes the importance of the Greenbelt to preserving natural heritage: “There are many places in Simcoe County that are vulnerable and need better protection, such as the Oro Moraine and the wetlands of Ramara.  These are the places we love and the green spaces we need. An Greenbelt expanded to Simcoe County is the next logical step to ensure these places get the protection they deserve.”

About the SCGC www.simcoecountygreenbelt.ca:  The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition is a diverse coalition of 30 organizations from across Simcoe County and the province calling on local and provincial leaders to expand the Greenbelt further into Simcoe County.  The SCGC looks forward to engaging the public and stakeholders about the role an expanded Greenbelt would play in the future of Simcoe County.

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For media inquiries please contact:  Margaret Prophet, co-chair, SCGC, 705-730-1774, email: m_prophet@hotmail.com

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