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Greenbelt & Growth Plan Comments Due May 28th

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Dear Oakvillegreen members and supporters,

Please add your voices to others around Ontario that are responding to the 2015 Coordinated Land Use Review with appeals for healthy agricultural land, protected natural systems and resilient urban centres before May 28th.

Below you will find sample letter text produced by the Toronto Environmental Alliance and Environmental Defence.

Please modify or add to this text and submit your letter to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry: Ontario Environmental Registry (Registry #012-3256).

You can also email your comments to landuseplanningreview@ontario.ca and cc us at president@oakvillegreen.org

DRAFT LETTERS – REVISE TO REFLECT YOUR INTERESTS AND PRIORITIES

Subject: Comments on Coordinated Land Use Planning Review

Dear Government of Ontario,

These comments are directed towards the Coordinated Land Use Planning Review currently taking place.

First, I urge that this Review should achieve the following goals:

  • protect and enhance the Greenbelt
  • reduce greenhouse gas pollution
  • create resilient communities that are prepared for climate change.

Therefore, I support changes to the four Acts being reviewed if they meet one or more of these above goals.

More specifically, I urge the Government to update relevant legislation to:

  • Enhance the health of ecological lands in the Greenbelt. We rely on these lands for our fresh air and clean water. These lands are also are important green infrastructure to help us prepare for climate change.
  • Enhance the ability of local farmers to make a living by allowing for small, agricultural business that aligns with the goals of the Greenbelt. We need Greenbelt farmers to make a decent living so that they continue supplying us with local food which we will increasingly rely on climate change causes droughts in places that now supply us with food.
  • Make sure that future development in cities around the Greenbelt is close to excellent transit and other infrastructure. To reduce air and greenhouse pollution and resource extraction that harms the Greenbelt we need smarter development and infrastructure that attracts smarter development. For example, that means better and more affordable transit.
  • Grow the Greenbelt into urban river valleys. Rivers that start in the Greenbelt flow through our cities into Lake Ontario. The lands around these rivers should all have the same level of protection to ensure these ecological lands are protected and resilient. This will become especially important as severe weather events caused by climate change impact these lands.
  • Do not allow any rural and/or natural lands to be designated “urban” over the next 10 years. We don’t need any more urban sprawl. Instead, we need developers and municipalities to build smart neighbourhoods in existing cities.This reduces greenhouse gas pollution and builds cities that are ready for climate change.
  • Do not build infrastructure that will harm the Greenbelt. The proposed GTA West Highway and the 407 East are examples of infrastructure that would degrade the Greenbelt and create more greenhouse gas and air pollution. Instead, we should be building 21st Century infrastructure that moves people and goods without harming our air and lands.
  • Do not shrink the Greenbelt. Some developers want access to lands that are now part of the Greenbelt simply to make money. That’s not a good enough reason. The Greenbelt is an important source for local food and for ecological services such as fresh air and clean water, which will become increasingly important as the climate changes. Rather, the Government should consider expanding the Greenbelt by including even more farmland and natural spaces.

I look forward to seeing the proposed changes that will come out of this Coordinated Review in the Fall. Thank you for the opportunity to share my comments.

Regards, Your Name Here

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Dear Government of Ontario,

These comments are directed towards the Coordinated Land Use Planning Review currently taking place.

Ten years ago the provincial growth plans were enacted with the promise of stopping sprawl and protecting, restoring and enhancing our farmland, water and nature. Over the years, I’ve seen how these plans can be improved to support smarter growth. I urge you to strengthen the Growth Plan and Greenbelt Plan. Please act to:

1. Support efficient growth in urban growth centres by enforcing or increasing targets for intensification while aligning growth with existing water, road and sewer capacity in towns and villages outside of the urban growth centres.

2. Address climate change by putting a meaningful price on carbon that will reduce our emissions, and create a fund for public transit and provide incentives for energy efficient buildings and green infrastructure.

3. Expand the Greenbelt to include additional prime agricultural land and natural heritage systems and ensure complete mapping of these system for the entire Greater Golden Horseshoe.

4. Freeze urban boundaries for the next 10 years. There is more than enough land set aside by municipalities to accommodate forecasted population growth for the Greater Golden Horseshoe beyond 2031. We don’t need to keep sprawling over our farmland.

5. Better align the Growth Plan with the Big Move transit plan objectives permitting higher densities within 2 km of transit hubs in urban growth centres and provide multiple ways to access transit hubs, including cycling, walking and driving.

6. Foster healthy communities by requiring active transportation plans in urban growth centres.

7. Improve the flow of people and goods across the region by prioritizing investment in transit, rail, and existing highways over new highways so that the transportation network better serves and reinforces smart growth rather than sprawl.

Sincerely, Your Name Here

An Inspiring Pollinator Story – Creating Monarch Meadows

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Creating Monarch Meadows

Julie, of Georgetown, recently shared an inspiring idea for Monarch conservation and her personal story of doing away with her lawn and replacing it with a biodiverse, pollinator-friendly and edible garden. Here is Julie’s note and photos from her lawn-free yard!

“When I was growing up, in a small town in southern Quebec, my dad had a huge field where he gardened. Half was a vegetable garden and the other half was filled with grasses and milkweed. Every summer I would stand out in the middle of that wild field and the Monarch butterflies would be soaring and swooping all around me. I marveled at the sight, but took it for granted that every sunny summer day they would be there.

Flash forward nearly 40 years, to my garden in southern Ontario. If we spot a Monarch we run for the camera. Three years ago, I was delighted to watch a Monarch lay an egg on one of the Butterfly Weeds (Asclepias tuberosa) in my backyard. The summer of 2013 however, I only saw three Monarchs. One day, as I was pruning some towering Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), and reflecting on the sad plight of migrating butterflies, my daughter came outside and exclaimed excitedly: “Mom, there’s a Monarch over your head!” I took the arrival of a Monarch at that precise moment as a sign. A sign that: “While there’s life, there’s hope”; a sign from the universe that I needed to do everything I personally could to help save the greatest migration on Earth.

In addition to giving away hundreds of perennials and planting school gardens, I decided to maximize the likelihood of Monarch caterpillars in my own garden. So I started removing a large section of my front lawn for a wildlife garden. I had just begun when fate intervened and my street was ripped up for a water main replacement. When I told the construction workers I was removing the lawn to help the Monarchs, and other wildlife, they dug it up for free.

Julie's front yard pollinator garden - BEFORE.
Julie’s front yard pollinator garden – BEFORE.

During the 2014 fall migration, I was overjoyed to have (mostly solitary) Monarchs visit my garden daily. My daughter laughed every time I excitedly announced: “Monarch”, dropped whatever I was doing, and went tearing outside with my camera. They nectared almost exclusively on the Meadow blazingstar (Liatris ligulistylis) and then headed south.

I know, however, no matter what I do, if their paths are not filled with others doing likewise, my efforts will be for naught. While discussing the need for people throughout North America to be involved, my twelve year old daughter Jenny said we should start the “Monarch Migration Movement”.

Julie's front yard garden AFTER.
Julie’s front yard garden – AFTER.

All over North America, there are many groups, and individuals, working to save the Monarchs. What if everyone who wanted to help could go to one website to obtain all the information they needed? And on this website there was a map which showed all the fields and farms, gardens at schools, parks, businesses, and homes which had planted milkweed or butterfly weed. What if this map showed areas in red, until enough fields, roadways and gardens were planted to be cautiously optimistic, when they would then turn to yellow? And, once optimal amounts were planted, they would turn green. What if there was a counter on the website which tallied up every single garden and you could watch the numbers climb higher and higher and see the continent wide efforts being made to save the Monarchs?

A map would clearly identify the areas which most needed habitat and everyone involved could start social networking amongst their family, neighbors, co-workers, and friends, in person and online, and letting them know that their area was desperately in need of habitat.

What if we called these gardens Monarch Meadows and we created habitat, which not only supported Monarchs but indigenous wildlife, pollinators, and migrating birds year round?

The benefits would be numerous. For, while people were gardening, they would be:

- Forming new friendships within their community, across all demographics.

- Learning about the importance of organic gardening and the dangers of pesticides

- Getting exercise

- Reducing their stress levels

- Beautifying their neighborhoods (which has been shown to reduce crime rates)

- Possibly learning about growing food for themselves, thus reducing their own carbon footprint

- Creating healthy organic soil, which sequesters carbon and retains more water

- Creating habitat to support all wildlife, thus protecting bees, other pollinators, and biodiversity

While we were planting these gardens we could ask artists and photographers of all ages to submit photos and designs which anyone could download and put on a t-shirt, hat, or tote to further spread awareness. Everyone involved would learn about the groups that have been tirelessly working for years to protect the Monarchs and people could be asked to support their efforts through donations which support education and habitat creation and protection.

While planting, we could advocate in our cities, towns, states or provinces for bans on spraying roadways, parks, and public land and encourage the planting of native milkweed species. People need something to hope for and work towards, to feel they are making a difference, but they often don’t know exactly what to do. One website, with all the necessary information, could guide them and the map and rising tally inspire. After all, the $6.64 billion dollars Americans are willing to spend to save the Monarchs would buy a heck of a lot of plants and seeds.

So what do you say? Can we all gather in one place and reach out to gardeners, farmers, bird watchers, nature lovers, pollinator, wildlife, and biodiversity advocates, people in the organic food movement and get planting? After all, as one of the construction workers who ripped out my lawn for my wildlife garden said: “Who doesn’t love butterflies?”

With hope for the Monarchs,

Julie (Georgetown, Ontario)

Aug 30 2014 New Front Garden IMG_0343

Help Grow & Strengthen the Greenbelt

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Oakville_THOntario’s Greenbelt protects approximately 2 million acres of green space, farmland and rivers, streams and environmentally-sensitive areas from sprawl. The Greenbelt supports Ontario’s biodiversity and maintains our drinking water. The Greenbelt also prevents pollution and provides people with a better quality of life.

Coinciding with the 10 year anniversary of the Greenbelt, four provincial land use plans are being reviewed: the Greenbelt Plan, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Niagara Escarpment Plan, and the Oak Ridges Moraine Plan. Oakville residents can help grow and strengthen the Greenbelt by participating in the public consultation.

This is our chance to advocate for the expansion of the Greenbelt along our natural heritage systems and urban river valleys, such as Fourteen Mile Creek.

TAKE ACTION to GROW and STRENGTHEN the GREENBELT!

Share your views at the Town Hall meeting (Thursday May 7th at Oakville Town Hall, 6pm)

If you can’t attend the Town Hall meeting be sure to share your feedback online before May 28, 2015.

A NOTE ABOUT WHAT TO EXPECT:

The Province has structured the public review process to provide input on how to better achieve six main goals. These goals and review questions are outlined in the Discussion Document produced by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Regional Town Hall meeting round tables and the online feedback form are also focused on gathering input on these six goals/questions. We’ve listed the six questions below.

Question 1: How can the plans better support the long-term protection of agricultural lands, water, and natural areas?

Question 2: How can the plans be strengthened to ensure our communities make best use of key infrastructure such as transit, roads, sewers and water?

Question 3: How can the plans continue to support the design of attractive, liveable and healthy communities that are accessible to all Ontarians at all stages of life?

Question 4: How can the plans better support the development of communities that attract workers and the businesses that employ them?

Question 5: How can the plans help address climate change?

Question 6: How can the implementation of the plans be improved?

For a review of Greenbelt threats and issues and why participating in the review is important see this latest press release from Ontario Greenbelt Alliance.

For more information on the Greenbelt see the Friends of Greenbelt Foundation’s Q&A sheet.