July 11, 2005

Greenbelt Foundation, new Council will help protect sensitive land resource

A new Greenbelt Foundation has been established by the Ontario government to help preserve the natural heritage, protect prime agricultural land and support recreational opportunities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Operating independently from government, the Foundation's mandate will be to co-ordinate and fund activities such as the promotion of agriculture and viniculture, research, public education, land stewardship and land acquisition across the Greenbelt.

Its start-up and continuing operating costs are being supported by a one-time $25-million provincial grant, and a five-member interim board has been appointed to oversee the Foundation's strategic and administrative set-up. This board's responsibilities include developing a strategic plan, investment strategy and criteria for grants. The interim board, which is chaired by Sandy Houston, will be replaced by a nine-member permanent board in March 2006.

The establishment of the Foundation follows the government's appointment last month of a Greenbelt Council, in accordance with a requirement of the Greenbelt Act, 2005. The nine-member Council will provide advice on the administration of the Greenbelt and will guide the government on implementation of the Greenbelt Plan, performance measures and the ten-year review of the plan. Chaired by Dr Robert Elgie, a former MPP and cabinet minister, the Council is appointed by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Members will serve a term of two to three years on a voluntary basis.

The legislation and accompanying Greenbelt Plan together provide permanent protection for 1.8 million acres in the Golden Horseshoe, the region surrounding the western end of Lake Ontario. Setting strict limits on where urban boundaries can and cannot expand, the Greenbelt protects thousands of acres of prime agricultural lands and tender fruit lands; preserves watersheds, rivers and forests; and promotes recreation, sports and tourism by encouraging the development of a trail system, open spaces and parklands.

The Greenbelt Council members are as follows.

Howie Herrema, an Uxbridge farmer, is a member and former president of the Durham Federation of Agriculture. He has been on the Uxbridge Township council since 2000, serving as chair of the planning committee and works committee.

Donna Lailey, a full-time grape grower in Niagara-on-the-Lake for almost 20 years, is a founding member of the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) and presently sits on the VQA technical committee. She is a past director of the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario and was a Niagara Parks Commissioner from 1996 to 2002.

Dr Virginia MacLaren, an associate professor in the University of Toronto's geography department, teaches environmental planning and environmental impact assessment. She is the associate director of U of T's Institute of Environmental Studies.

Dr John Middleton is a faculty member at Brock University's Centre for the Environment at, where he specializes in biodiversity conservation in the context of sustainable development.

Linda Pim, an environmental biologist, has worked in the environmental policy field for over 25 years, both with the Ontario government and with non-governmental organizations.

Russ Powell, a founding director and current chair of the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation, is chief administrative officer of the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority, and was also a member of the Greenbelt Task Force.

Dr Clay Switzer is a professor at the University of Guelph and former Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College. He was deputy minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food from 1984 to 1989 and is past president of the Ontario Institute of Agrologists.

Rebecca Wissenz, past president of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, has been on the executive since 2000 and is also an elected member of the governing council of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. In 2000 and 2001 she was the inaugural chair of action 2020, tackling the critical issue of sustainable development in Hamilton.

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