February 23, 2004

Ontario task force will oversee process for establishing permanent greenbelt

Rob MacIsaac, mayor of Burlington, Ontario has been appointed chair of a new Greenbelt Task Force, which will oversee public consultations aimed at determining how to establish a permanently protected greenbelt in Ontario, stretching from Niagara Falls to Rice Lake. The consultations will focus on the scope, content and implementation of the proposed Greenbelt.

The establishment of the Greenbelt Task Force was announced last week by provincial Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky and Municipal Affairs Minister John Gerretsen. It follows last December's introduction of the Greenbelt Protection Act, 2003, proposing the creation of a greenbelt study area within the Golden Horseshoe, along with a one-year moratorium on new urban development on rural and agricultural lands within this area. The legislation would also clarify the transition provisions on development applications relating to the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act.

Task force members were chosen for their expertise and concern for the protection of greenspace in the Golden Horseshoe, as well as their understanding of the permanent and far-reaching nature of the subject. They represent a broad cross-section of municipalities, the development industry, and recreational, environmental and agricultural interests in the Golden Horseshoe.

The Greenbelt Task Force will lead public and stakeholder consultations; make recommendations to the government on the scope, content and implementation of a proposed future greenbelt; and develop a clear, transparent process for dealing with requests related to lands affected by the Minister's zoning order imposed on December 16, 2003, and lands that would be affected by the moratorium to be imposed under the Greenbelt Protection Act, 2003, if passed. (The zoning order was imposed in order to provide immediate protection while the legislation is being considered.)

Initial consultation activities are expected to run for 60 days between April and June 2004, with further meetings likely in the fall to consider the proposed approach to greenbelt protection that will result from the first round of greenbelt consultations.

Task force chair MacIsaac is a lawyer and lifelong resident of Burlington. He has been a member of Burlington city council since November 1991 and was first elected mayor in November 1997. He also served on the Ontario Central Zone Smart Growth Panel. The other task force members are as follows.

Michael Bunce is an associate professor of geography and planning at the University of Toronto, Scarborough campus. He specializes in rural and agricultural land use, rural conservation and rural planning, and is the supervisor of Studies of the Society and Environment program.

Jim Faught, a professional forester by training, spent 25 years with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources in the fire management and natural resource management programs. He has been the executive director of Ontario Nature and the Federation of Ontario Naturalists since July 2001. Faught was also a member of the Central Ontario Smart Growth Panel.

Mary Lou Garr is the immediate past chair of AgCare, a coalition of 16 farm organizations representing 45,000 farmers on crop biotechnology, crop protection and related environmental issues. Currently a director of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), she sits on the OFA's environment committee. Garr and her husband farmed for 30 years in the Niagara escarpment area near Beamsville, Ontario.

Natalie Helferty is an ecological consultant who has worked for the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust, Environmental Defence Canada, the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment, and other public interest groups. She is also the Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists.

Carol Hochu is president of the Aggregate Producers' Association of Ontario (APAO), an industry association representing the province's sand, gravel and crushed stone producers and their suppliers. She is a designated Certified Association Executive by the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE).

Fraser Nelson is the general manager of Metrus Development, a company that develops residential, industrial and commercial lands, mainly in the Greater Toronto Area and Ontario's Golden Horseshoe region. He is a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario and the Urban Development Institute (UDI).

Rod Northey is a partner in Birchall Northey, an environmental law firm providing litigation, legal and public policy advice to clients across Canada. Northey practices environmental law and has extensive experience in environmental assessment law. He is also past president of the Canadian Environmental Defence Fund (now Environmental Defence Canada).

Mark Parsons has been with Monarch Homes for over 17 years and is currently vice-president of low-rise construction. He was elected president of the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association (GTHBA) in 2003.

Russ Powell is the chief administrative officer of the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority and also serves on the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation's board of directors.

Deborah Schulte is a professional engineer and a member of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) Humber Watershed Alliance.

Alan Veale was the director of planning and development for the Regional Municipality of Niagara from 1974 until 1998.

Donald Ziraldo is co-founder and president of Inniskillin, one of Canada's leading wineries. He was a founding chair of the Vintners Quality Alliance, a group that develops regulations and improves quality standards for premium Ontario wines.

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