Durham Council Backs Down from Greenbelt
Decision leaves Greenbelt
challenge on record
Ontario Greenbelt Alliance
Jan. 25, 2007
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Toronto – The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance welcomes the
Durham Council decision to drop the identification of five
parcels of environmentally sensitive land for a future growth
study. The Council was set to add the properties as an Attachment
to its Official Plan.
By unrecorded vote, Durham Council voted 23 to 1 yesterday
to leave undisturbed the May 10, 2006 Motion of Council to
challenge the Greenbelt boundary at the first review of the
Greenbelt Act in 2015. The surprise decision rejected a recent
recommendation from the Durham Planning Committee to attach
Council’s previous resolution to target these lands
for future development in the Official Plan.
In effect, a large swath of environmentally sensitive land
in the Duffins-Rouge Agricultural Preserve, North Courtice,
North Whitby and Ajax are no longer targeted for future growth.
“Durham Council’s decision signals a new, greener
vision in Durham Region – one that respects the Greenbelt
boundaries and protects our green spaces, farmland and natural
areas,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental
Defence, a member group of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance.
The lands in question comprise 2,192 hectares (5,400 acres)
of existing rural and agricultural areas. Durham’s own
Official Plan acknowledges that none of this land is needed
for future growth until 2021 at the earliest. The area is
roughly seven times greater than the Toronto Islands. A very
small number of developers would have benefited from the potential
changes to the Greenbelt boundary.
Many delegates attending the Council meeting indicated they
would prefer to see Durham Council’s original resolution
to challenge the Greenbelt boundary in 2015 rescinded; however,
most said they would be satisfied with the compromise that
there be no attachment to the Official Plan and the issue
would not be revisited until a Greenbelt review in 2015.
Councillors who had previously voted in favour of shrinking
the Greenbelt were challenged to report campaign donations
from landowners benefiting from the re-designation. Councillors
were also unable to defend the decision to earmark these parcels
of land using appropriate planning rationale or staff reports.
“Durham Council’s attempt to undermine the wildly
popular Greenbelt hit a political cul-de-sac,” said
David Donnelly, legal counsel to Environmental Defence. “After
months of railing against the ‘Toronto media’,
criticizing their own constituents and claiming they needed
more studies, a large number of Councillors changed their
vote after realizing that fighting the Greenbelt is a dead-end
During the meeting, Councillor Marilyn Pearce, Mayor of Scugog,
said “we want to send the message that this Council
supports the Greenbelt”.
“This is a very positive step for Durham Region because
it shows its commitment to not only its citizens, but to all
residents of southern Ontario in terms of safeguarding our
collective food security for many years to come,” said
Nathan Fahey, Acting Executive Director of the STORM Coalition
(Save the Oak Ridges Moraine), a member group of the Ontario
About the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance: The Ontario Greenbelt
Alliance is a diverse multi-stakeholder coalition of over
75 organizations who share a common vision for protecting
and expanding Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt.
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