Addressing changes to the Greenbelt
Dear Centennial Community,
I am writing to you to answer some concerns many of you have had regarding our government’s changes to the Greenbelt.
Throughout the past few years, I have heard from parents and young people across Scarborough – Rouge Park who are concerned about the future prospect of owning a home. During the past election, I made a commitment along with our government to ensure housing is attainable for the next generation. That is why we are determined to take bold action, which is exactly what we are doing. Therefore, I want to provide the reasoning behind the decisions that have been made.
Ontario’s population has reached a historic 15 million people and is expected to continue growing by over two million people by 2031, with approximately 1.5 million of those new residents in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region. We know the pace of housing construction in Ontario is not keeping up with demand, and we need to act quickly and effectively if we are going to fix this situation. Our per capita housing supply lags far behind our G7 and Canadian peers with which we compete for jobs and investment. Today, Ontario is nearly 1.3 million homes – rental or owned – short of the G7 average. That is why Ontario is in a housing crisis caused by a severe lack of supply.
Furthermore, with the federal government’s recent announcement that it will raise immigration targets to approximately half a million newcomers each year, it is especially important that Ontario have the housing supply needed to welcome these newcomers and support existing residents.
That is why our government introduced Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022, which looks to address Ontario’s housing supply crisis by building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. This legislation will ultimately help build housing within the Golden Horseshoe.
The amendments will particularly:
- Help our cities and towns grow with a mix of ownership and rental housing types that meet various needs, from single family homes to townhomes and mid-rise apartments.
- Build more homes near transit, which supports modern walkable communities where you can live, work and go to school more easily.
- Use provincial lands to build more attainable homes.
- Introduce strengthened consumer protection measures for homebuyers.
We are taking further action to support this goal by making changes to the Greenbelt: 7,400 acres of land were removed, which only affects 0.37% of the Greenbelt. Given their locations near existing settlements and transit, it makes sense to remove these lands.
At the same time, we have also added 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. This net expansion of the Greenbelt would provide new protections for prime agricultural lands to support a healthy and vibrant agricultural system, and capture natural features such as wetlands and woodlands adjacent to moraine functions area.
This is not the first time the province has adjusted the Greenbelt’s boundaries. The previous Liberal government quietly carved into the Greenbelt 17 times during their time in office. Unlike our changes, these carve outs were not done for the primary purpose of accommodating new housing that is desperately needed. Several of the sites removed from the Greenbelt in 2017 by the Liberal government are now designated as commercial zones, intense recreation zones, or have massive residential mansions featuring swimming pools and tennis courts built on them.
In contrast, the lands that we identified for removal had to meet very clear criteria such as being adjacent to an existing urban area and being on or near readily serviceable land, with local infrastructure upgrades needed to service the projects to be funded entirely by the proponents. With these lands removed from the Greenbelt, the landowners are expected to develop detailed plans to build housing quickly. It is our 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.
Furthermore, it is our expectation that at least 10 percent of these homes be attainable/affordable. In order to build complete communities, proponents will be required to develop and bring forward detailed plans for these sites that include public infrastructure such as stormwater management, roads, active transportation, community centres, schools, hospitals and long-term care components. Proponents will still be required to get the necessary approvals to ensure adequate protection of the environment before any construction could begin.
We have been clear from the start that we will only move forward if these conditions are met. If we are not satisfied with the plans brought forward, our government is prepared to return the properties back to the Greenbelt.
Therefore, I am proud that our proposal will support our municipal partners’ plan for responsible growth and help build housing faster and in a targeted manner, while leading to an overall expansion of the Greenbelt. Our government has always taken a balanced approach to helping our municipal partners plan for responsible growth and build housing where it makes sense while also protecting the environment. This is part of my commitment to help ensure Ontario continues to be the best place to live, work and prosper.
I want you to know that I have heard your concerns, and it is my hope that this may address some of the questions and concerns that many of you have expressed regarding our government’s housing plan.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to our office at 8130 Sheppard Ave. East Unit 105, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at 416-283-8448.