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Published on Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Oakville council reiterates its commitment to Greenbelt following Ford statements

Council says Greenbelt development would increase urban sprawl and local taxes

Oakville council reiterates its commitment to Greenbelt following Ford statements
Photo by Nikki Wesley/Metroland
PC Party Leader Doug Ford spoke with the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, Milton Chamber of Commerce, and Burlington Chamber of Commerce members during a luncheon at the Burlington Convention Centre
By David Lea, Oakville Beaver

The Town of Oakville has reiterated its commitment to the Greenbelt following statements by Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford that he would open the preserved land up to development if elected.

Oakville council voted unanimously Monday, April 30 to stand with its municipal neighbours to undertake continued action to maintain and grow the current Greenbelt.

The Halton Region boasts a large area legally protected by Ontario’s Greenbelt.

The councillors also called on the province to extend Greenbelt protections to the appropriate Whitebelt lands within the Greater Golden Horseshoe’s “inner ring.”

Whitebelt lands are located between the outer edge of approved urban settlement areas surrounding the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton and the Greenbelt Plan area.

They are currently undeveloped, but are not protected from development in the future.

Ward 2 town and regional Coun. Cathy Duddeck, who brought the motion forward, called the Greenbelt an integral part of land use planning, which encourages the reduction of sprawl and protects natural and hydrological features and agricultural lands.

She noted the Greenbelt has protected more than 1.8 million acres of farmland, local food supplies, headwaters of rivers, important forests and wildlife habitat for more than 12 years.

“There is a tremendous amount of land already planned and available in excess of the development needs of the GTA without weakening the Greenbelt,” said Duddeck.

“Efforts to open the Greenbelt create the opportunity for land speculators to build expansive homes at immense profits in remote areas … Opening the Greenbelt will move the urban boundary thus creating more sprawl and increased traffic.”

Duddeck also pointed out that more urban sprawl means increased taxes for local residents.

She said with the provincial election looming council needs to remind the various stakeholders of Oakville’s support of the Greenbelt Plan.

“We need to seize every opportunity we have to reinforce council’s position on this crucial planning issue,” said Duddeck.

“This resolution clearly states that we will not entertain any opening of the Greenbelt lands for any future development.”

Ward 6 Coun. Natalia Lishchyna, who seconded Duddeck’s motion, discussed the importance of the Greenbelt.

“We know that natural, undisturbed green spaces are important for environmental sustainability, but closer to my heart is the health benefits of green space including the promoting of physical activity, decreasing stress, which is so high in our society, as well as mitigating air pollution, noise and heat exposure,” she said.

“I do hope that council is supportive of this resolution because the Greenbelt is for a greener future for our children as well as preventing tax increases and more traffic jams.”

The council vote follows the Ontario Liberals' release of a video dated Feb. 12, which shows Ford discussing his plans for the Greenbelt.

“We will open up the Greenbelt, not all of it, but we are going to open a big chunk of it up and we are going to start building and making it more affordable and putting more houses out there,” said the then PC leadership candidate in the video.

“The demand for single dwelling homes is huge, but no one can afford them. We need to start building affordable housing.”

Ford said he had already spoken to some of the biggest developers in Canada on this subject.

He also credited these developers with coming up with this idea.

When asked about his comments in this video Ford told the media that for every piece of Greenbelt land opened for development he would add equivalent land to the protected area to ensure the size doesn’t change.

This suggested approach failed to ease the concerns of Oakville council.

“Any opening up of the Greenbelt is an expansion of the urban boundary and that is urban sprawl,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton.

“Even if you add Greenbelt somewhere else, you have moved the urban boundary in order to open the Greenbelt and that triggers the extra traffic and the extra costs.”

Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn took aim at Ford’s plan noting secret, behind door meetings with developers to pave over the Greenbelt runs contrary to the wishes of the majority of Oakville residents who are fighting to save the Glen Abbey Golf Course.

Ontario Liberal Oakville North-Burlington candidate Alvin Tedjo also weighed in on the video.

“Oakville and Burlington know the value of green spaces and fight hard to protect them,” he said.

“Doug Ford’s secret, back room promise that he would pave over our green spaces is reckless and out of touch with communities like ours.”
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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