Published November 22, 2016, in the Barrie Advance
"When you drink tap water, take a shower and swim in a local lake, you want that water to be clean and safe.
This is why the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition is asking the province to expand Ontario’s Greenbelt in our area.
“People got behind the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. This is just the next logical step,” said coalition co-chairperson Margaret Prophet.
Ontario’s Greenbelt is a 1.8-million-acre parcel of protected farmland, wetland and forest stretching from the Greater Toronto Area north to Tobermory. In Simcoe County, the Greenbelt covers Holland Marsh crop areas in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil as well as portions of Adjala–Tosorontio and New Tecumseth.
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing spokesperson Conrad Spezowka said the province is committed to growing the Greenbelt. In the spring, the ministry completed a series of public consultations to review four provincial growth plans and to consider Greenbelt expansion.
“Municipal interest to date has been on adding urban river valleys within existing urban areas. This builds on the Greenbelt Plan amendment, which recognizes urban river valleys as important connections to the Great Lakes and will help municipalities in identifying possible areas for Greenbelt expansion,” Spezowka said.
Proposed amendments will come forward in the winter of 2016, he added.
More than 100 community groups, including the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition and Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, have asked the province to nearly double the size of the Greenbelt to add 1.5 million acres of land containing vital water resources. In Simcoe County this includes almost 300,000 hectares of land covering the Lake Simcoe watershed, the Oro Moraine, the Nottawasaga River Watershed and the Minesing Wetlands, which supply and purify clean drinking water for most residents of the county, Prophet said.
“We’re hoping at least the vulnerable water areas of Simcoe County would be protected,” she added. “Only a portion of the Lake Simcoe watershed is protected.”'
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