Land Use Planning Review: Coordinating, Collecting & Connecting the Dots

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The four provincial land use plans that work together to manage growth, protect the natural environment and support economic development in the Greater Golden Horseshoe are currently under review – it’s an important time for the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, the Niagara Escarpment Plan and the Growth Plan for Greater Golden Horseshoe.

At the end of March the province began hosting Regional Town Hall Meetings across the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which will run into May, to hear your ideas and concerns around strengthening these plans so that they can work better together.

Fiona Nelson, a member of our GTA AAC, attended Toronto’s full-house meeting on March 30, where she tells us that her table showed a concern for food and water security, with a focused discussion on the need to protect our natural lands.

An acclaimed gardener, champion in Toronto public health and education, retired kindergarten teacher, honorary member of the TFPC, and a master in sustainability & resourcefulness, Fiona has no hesitation in repeating that these issues we often discuss – food, water, waste, health, land, farmers – are all connected, and the importance of connecting the dots between these issues and opportunities has got to be better instilled in the public.

“We lose our farmers, and we lose our food,” says Fiona. “We must treat class A farmland like gold mines.”

The coordinated review not only offers the opportunity for the public to speak up, but it’s also an opportunity for public education surrounding our natural resources, and the myriad of issues that different stakeholders face – farmers, cities, municipal planners, and citizens in general. These decisions affect us all.

Fiona reminds us that it’s better to come to your own solutions for problems rather than have them forced on you. And here’s the opportunity to have your say…

The reviews are being run by an expert panel led by former Toronto Mayor David Crombie, and the panel has certainly already heard an abundance of opinion.

Caledon saw a full house as well for its town meeting on March 26. This Caledon Citizen article explores the tapestry of questions and concerns that were laid out, sparked by initial questions such as, ‘How can the plans better support the long-term protection of agriculture lands, water and natural areas?

Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson explains that Caledon is impacted directly by all these plans, and that the challenge is harmonizing all the demands as the plans have different policies.

“They’re all talking different languages,” Thompson says, adding that it’s frustrating for planners and municipal leaders.

One man in the Caledon Citizen article “observed the Greenbelt was supposed to protect farmers, but it hasn’t.”

Whereas former Councillor Richard Paterak wonders if the province will help the community with infrastructure needs that will be brought on where growth is restricted, with almost 80% of Caledon falling under the Greenbelt, Niagara Escarpment or Oak Ridges Moraine Plan.

A call for harmonization of the language in the various plans is an issue top of mind for many, including Fiona, who says there’s a fragmentation in government and policies.

The internationally-recognized plans are undoubtedly interdependent, and it’s in the best interest of each (and what they stand for) for them to work harmoniously.

“Either we connect and protect the 4 parcels of land under discussion properly – the land, the water, and control development – or we will starve,” declares Fiona.

The panel will analyze their collected review material with the intent to present a report to the provincial government come September.

Be sure to provide your input by May 28, if you haven’t already.