Get Your Greenbelt On!

City dwellers: What better way to ensure your loved ones have food to eat, air to breathe, and nature to explore than to invest in one of Canada’s greenbelts?

Typically, a greenbelt is a protected strip of land that surrounds an urban centre, effectively holding it in place (geographically) – hence the name, greenbelt.

In British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, greenbelts have been used by the government to help prevent the inevitable urban sprawl of cities, thereby minimizing the negative effects on the surrounding farmland, natural resources, wildlife, and beautiful landscapes.

The first greenbelt was established in Ottawa in 1956 to encase the downtown core and prevent urban sprawl into the surrounding farmland. Although the greenbelt remains, the city itself has expanded on the other side of the greenbelt (so it wasn’t a total success, but still remains as a green area of land within the city).

BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve was a much bigger undertaking, established in 1973 to protect 47,000 km2. At the time, this was a revolutionary move on the part of BC politicians and made waves all across North America. Go BC!

Soon to follow was Quebec with the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec, established in 1978, which protects an area of 63,500 km2 of the province’s farmland around Montréal.

A bit later to the greenbelt wagon was the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt in Ontario, made up of 7,300 km2 of land. It was established in 2005 to encase the Greater Toronto Area. This urban area is Canada’s most populated and fastest growing, and it also happens to be dangerously close to several of our important resources and beautiful land.

Although politicians and the public tend to support greenbelt initiatives and their expansion, greenbelts are continually at risk. Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt, for example, is up for review in 2015 by the provincial government. Some of the issues on the table include the possibility of a new 400 series highway in Ontario, policy loopholes, lack of enforcement issues, and – on the flip side – making the Greenbelt bigger.

2015 also marks the opening of the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt Route: a 480 km biking path that spans from Niagara Falls to Peterborough. Click here for a map of the route.

For a more thorough read on the issues up for review in 2015’s Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt review, check out Urban Strategies Inc.’s coverage.

How can I get involved?

Ottawa: To get involved with Ottawa’s greenbelt, visit the National Capital Commission or the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

British Columbia: To learn more about BC’s Agriculture Reserve or to make a donation, visit the ALC Commission, or check out RITE Richmond.

Quebec: To get involved and learn more about Quebec’s protected land, visit the CPTAQ.

To learn more about the Greenbelt, make a donation or support it through other means, you can visit The Greenbelt Foundation and the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance.



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