The vulnerabilities for greenlands protections are development, aggregate extraction, and reliance on provincial policies, which can change.
This page covers vulnerabilities. The next page, which covers targets that we should have, should be read with these vulnerabilities in mind.
Greenfield development is just what it sounds like, turning agricultural and natural lands into residential, industrial, and commercial areas. Development generally changes the land from pervious to impervious, with roads, roofs, driveways, and shallow-rooted and compacted lawns all increasing water runoff rather than absorption.
In addition to the loss of natural features and the free services they provide (like filtering water), erosion and dust from development negatively impact water quality.
Although better development techniques are being applied in the Lake Simcoe watershed due to the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, Low Impact Development and erosion control techniques should be used across Simcoe County to help improve water quality.
There is virtually no justification for rezoning more land for development in Simcoe County as it has far more land zoned for residential uses than it needs.
The population of Simcoe County today is 305,516 people. Ontario’s Growth Plan sets Simcoe County’s population target for 2031 at 416,000 (excluding Barrie and Orillia).
There is enough land currently zoned residential set aside to accommodate 165,651 more people than the provincial Growth Plan 2031 target of 416,000.
Reliance on Provincial Policies
Of the lands that fall into the Level 1 category, the County’s Natural Heritage System is responsible for only 1%, with the rest of the land being covered by provincial policies.
While provincial policy is generally stable, and often includes language that the strongest policy will apply (for example, if local protections like the Greenbelt or the Oak Ridges Moraine are stronger then they apply), it is unfortunate and perhaps telling that just 1% of greenlands identified here find protection by way of local regulation.
There is no reason why the County and local municipalities cannot strengthen protections for their natural heritage assets to ensure they continue to provide value to citizens far into the future.
Aggregate activity could remove 11% of lands in the Level 1 category.
Potential sites for aggregate, sand, and gravel make up approximately 11% of the total land area currently classified as Level 1, which is 14% of Simcoe County.
There is little that prevents aggregate operations from exploiting resources in these areas.
If permits are issued for these extractive industries then Simcoe County could lose up to 11% of lands in the Level 1 category.