The controversial Greenbelt is in the spotlight once again.

Today, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, issued a statement regarding the launch of a 30-day consultation to facilitate the building of more homes, while also expanding the Greenbelt.

Last week the Ontario introduced the More Home Built Faster Act, 2022, which takes bold action to address Ontario’s housing supply crisis by building 1.5M homes over the next 10 years. “Today, we are taking further action to support this goal by launching a consultation on proposed changes to the Greenbelt,” said Clark. “These proposals will support our municipal partners’ plans for responsible growth and help build at least 50,000 new homes, while leading to an overall expansion of the Greenbelt.”

Clark highlighted how Ontario is expected to grow by more than 2M people by 2031, with approximately 1.5M of these newcomers to locate to the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region. “To accommodate that growth and support the building of more homes, our government is proposing to remove 15 areas of land totalling approximately 7,400 acres from the edge of the Greenbelt area,” said Clark. 

But, for what he proposes to remove, he’s proposing to add -- plus more. 

“At the same time, we are proposing to add an additional 9,400 acres to the Greenbelt, including a portion of the Paris Galt Moraine and 13 urban river valleys in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, for an overall Greenbelt expansion of approximately 2,000 acres,” he wrote. 

Clark said the proposed changes to the Greenbelt meet the following criteria, all of which must be met before a property is given consideration:

  • Greater than 1:1 offset must be achieved to ensure overall Greenbelt expansion
  • Affected areas must have the potential for homes to be built in the near future
  • Affected areas must be adjacent to the existing Greenbelt boundaries
  • Affected areas must be adjacent to an existing urban area
  • Affected areas must be on or near readily serviceable land, with local infrastructure upgrades needed to service the projects to be funded entirely by the proponents

“Should these lands be removed from the Greenbelt, the landowners will be expected to develop detailed plans to build housing quickly,” said Clark. “It is the government’s expectation that new home construction will begin on these lands by no later than 2025, and that significant progress on approvals and implementation must be achieved by the end of 2023. If these conditions are not met, the government will return these properties to the Greenbelt.”

Clark called these changes an important part of the Ford government’s “balanced strategy” to build a stronger province by protecting environmentally important lands while tackling Ontario’s housing supply crisis. “We are fulfilling our commitment to get more homes built faster so more Ontarians can find a home that meets their needs and budget,” he said. 

Comments on these proposals are welcome through the Environmental Registry of Ontario by December 5, 2022. It's just a wild guess, but we have a feeling there will be no shortage of feedback from the public on this one...

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