Published February 1, 2016, in the Barrie Examiner
"The clock is ticking on the future of Simcoe County's environment.
Bluebelt/Greenbelt: Simcoe's Watershed Moment — a meeting to raise public awareness about expanding the Greenbelt into Simcoe County — was held in Barrie on Saturday.
Organized by the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition, the meeting included 23 organizations looking to protect water sources and natural heritage systems in the area.
Expanding the greenbelt policy into the county would be a way to help do that, according coalition spokeswoman Margaret Prophet, who added that it will limit costly sprawl and ensure future growth is concentrated where infrastructure and jobs already exist while preserving farms, streams, wetlands and forests.
The Ontario Greenbelt currently extends across the Greater Golden Horseshoe, but with Simcoe County slated to grow to 667,000 by 2031, coalition members want to ensure areas of the county are afforded the same protection.
"We believe that greenbelt policy is a healthy balance of allowing our communities to grow and evolve while protecting the areas that are important to people of Simcoe County, including our beaches, lakes, streams and drinking water supply," she said, adding local politicians also took part in Saturday's event, which attracted more than 150 people.
"To us, (the turnout) showed the potential for this issue to rise above being partisan and instead, bring people together from all political stripes to help build a positive vision for Simcoe County as it continues to grow, like the non-partisan leadership that was shown in drafting the Lake Simcoe Protection Act."
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