May 17, 2004

Discussion paper highlights

With regard to environmental protection, the Greenbelt Task Force is considering defining a system of natural heritage and hydrological features and functions which would include provincial parks and areas such as the Iroquois Shoreline, Rouge Park and the Duffins-Rouge Agricultural Preserve. The task force also wants to discuss a hierarchy of environmental protection to ensure the region's valuable natural heritage systems can continue to provide environmental benefits to residents of the Golden Horseshoe.

Focusing on agriculture, the task force wants to discuss protection of agricultural areas, such as the tender fruit and grape lands of the Niagara region and the Holland Marsh, through restrictions on boundary expansions and severances in settlement areas. The task force is also looking at identifying, for permanent protection, other agricultural areas in the greenbelt study area with sufficient integrity to function as viable rural economies.

The discussion paper further notes that currently, transportation and infrastructure links such as roads, rail lines, water and sewer lines, electricity transmission lines, natural gas lines and fibre-optic cables cross areas which may become part of a permanent greenbelt. The task force recognizes that population growth will require additional infrastructure in the Golden Horseshoe, and wants to discuss principles to maximize the use of current infrastructure and minimize impacts on greenbelt functions.

Concerning natural resources, the task force understands that natural resources, most significantly mineral aggregates, are essential building blocks for cities and necessary for the maintenance of existing infrastructure and industries in the Golden Horseshoe. There are economic and environmental benefits to protecting non-renewable mineral aggregate resources close to where they are needed. The task force wants to discuss how these valuable aggregate deposits can be protected from incompatible land use while protecting the environment, and provisions for rehabilitation to support adjacent greenbelt functions once the resource is depleted.

Finally, the task force realizes that the administration and implementation of a regional greenbelt can be accomplished in a variety of ways. It wants to discuss a proposed method which will ensure permanence and consistency while taking into account local differences and existing administrative frameworks. The task force will consider a model which will accomplish this while knitting together existing plans such as the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan.

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