Durham Region Greenbelt Plan Review
In 2005, the Province of Ontario created the Greenbelt Plan, to permanently protect about 728,000+ hectares (about 1.8 million acres) of agricultural lands and ecological features/systems, from urban development, within the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
The Greenbelt is the largest geographical area of its kind in the world, and includes the previously protected Oak Ridges Moraine and Niagara Escarpment. The main objectives of the Greenbelt Plan are to:
- Support agricultural land and promote agriculture production;
- Protect natural heritage features and systems;
- Advance opportunities for culture, recreation and tourism;
- Provide for viable rural settlements; and
- Promote sustainable infrastructure and natural resource use.
In Durham Region, the Greenbelt covers over 80 per cent of the overall geographical area, and extends into each of the Region's eight area municipalities.
The Greenbelt Plan, along with the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP) and Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP), are scheduled for a mandatory 10-year review, by the province, in 2015. This provincial review will work to address challenges, capitalize on opportunities and ultimately to strengthen the Greenbelt Plan, ORMCP and NEP.
In preparation for the provincial review, Durham Region is conducting its own evaluation of the Greenbelt Plan, which includes a community consultation process. Durham Region has engaged a professional consultant (Urban Strategies Inc.), which is responsible for:
- Conducting a community consultation process with municipal and agency partners, stakeholders, and the general public;
- Outlining the major themes, challenges and opportunities that emerge from the community consultation process; and
- Developing recommendations to address these findings in order to inform Durham Region's participation in the provincial 2015 review of the Greenbelt Plan.
The Greenbelt Review Working Group
The Greenbelt Review Working Group—which includes representation from relevant agencies and other stakeholder organizations with an interest in the Greenbelt—will help the consultant to understand the perspectives and interests of local stakeholder groups.
This advisory group includes: representatives from Durham's eight area municipalities; five conservation authorities; Regional citizen advisory committees; the agricultural sector; the environmental sector; and the development industry.
The Consultation Process
Durham Region is committed to conducting a balanced and inclusive consultation process that captures the input and experiences of our diverse community members, who are affected by the Greenbelt Plan.Consultation activities were conducted between February and April 2014, including:
- Five public consultation sessions:
- Clarington (March 6);
- Uxbridge (March 20);
- Brock (March 27);
- Whitby (April 7); and
- Pickering (April 16).
- Interviews with municipal elected officials;
- Area municipal staff focus groups;
- Stakeholder focus groups organized around key issues;
- Input from the Durham Greenbelt Review Working Group; and
- A downloadable workbook and online survey.
Durham Region Greenbelt Plan Review Reports
The feedback captured through the public consultation activities are summarized and distilled within the following reports:
- June 10, 2014 – 2014-P-36 Committee Report
- Durham Greenbelt Plan Review Initial Report – Consultation Results: What We Heard (Urban Strategies Inc.)
Utilizing the feedback from the above noted Consultation Results report, the following Durham Greenbelt Plan Review Report – Directions and Recommendations highlights some of the most important and emerging opportunities for improvements to the Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine Plans, to ensure they better meet the needs of the Region:
- September 2, 2014 – 2014-P-41 Committee Report
- Durham Greenbelt Plan Review Final Report – Directions and Recommendations (Urban Strategies Inc.)
This final Directions and Recommendations report was submitted to the Province of Ontario (September 2014), in advance of the legislated 2015 review, to help determine the process and scope of the 2015 review of the Plans, and to inform a Regional position and participation in the Provincial Plans review process.
Co-ordinated Review of Ontario Land Use Plans
On February 27, 2015 the Province of Ontario announced a co-ordinated approach to reviewing four provincial land use plans, including: the Growth Plan; Greenbelt Plan Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP); and Niagara Escarpment Plan.
The co-ordinated review will be completed in two phases of public consultation, including:
- Phase 1 – Input on all matters associated with the four plans, with a focus on the goals and questions outlined in a related Discussion Paper – Our Region, Our Community, Our Home. The commenting period for Phase 1 concluded on May 27, 2015.
- Phase 2 – Input on proposed amendments to the plans, with a summary document entitled Shaping Land Use in the Greater Golden Horseshoe – A Guide to Proposed Changes. The deadline for providing feedback is September 30, 2016. There are several options for the public to participate, listed on the provincial review website: www.ontario.ca/landuseplanningreview.
In addition, the following Provincial Open House meeting will be held within Durham:
- Thursday, June 23, 2016 at Durham College in Oshawa, from 5pm to 8pm. Venue and meeting details are listed here: www.ontario.ca/landuseplanningreview
Provincial Plans Review Reports
The Region is fully engaged in the provincially-led initiative, including all opportunities to provide input through the various stages of the provincial consultation exercise.
The Region’s Greenbelt Plan Review consultation exercise, undertaken in 2014, will form a foundation to respond to aspects of the co-ordinated provincial review exercise.
As the exercise progresses, reports associated with the co-ordinated review of provincial land use plans will continue to be posted below:
- March 10, 2015 – 2015-P-20 Committee Report: Co-ordinated Review of Ontario Land Use Plans
- May 19, 2015 – 2015-P-37 Committee Report: Regional Response to Phase 1 Consultations
- January 12, 2016 – 2016-P-1 Committee Report: Co-ordinated Review of Provincial Plans – Update reporting that the advisory panel, Chaired by David Crombie, had released their recommendations on the co-ordinated review in a report entitled Planning for Health, Prosperity and Growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe: 2015-2041
- May 24, 2016 – 2016-P-35 Committee Report: Co-ordinated Review of Provincial Plans – Proposed Amendments
- October 5, 2016 – 2016-COW-34 Committee Report: Regional Response to Phase 2 (Proposed Amendments), including the letter to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs containing Durham's recommendations, as amended, adopted by Regional Council on October 12, 2016