York Region Council Approves Greenbelt Development Request

On October 22, 2020 York Regional Council passed a motion “to reiterate its request to the Province to develop a process allowing municipalities to access site-specific strategically located employment lands for employment use only, if deemed necessary through a Municipal Comprehensive Review”.
 
Further York Council also asked the Province to “consider the extension of Great Lake based servicing as an option to service settlement areas within the Greenbelt Plan and Oak Ridges Moraine Plan areas”.
 
I remain very concerned with this move as these protected environmental lands serve a very important function in our environment and should be protected in perpetuity.
 
I am also unconvinced that there is a pressing need to open up these lands for employment at this time. There is unused employment land in Richmond Hill’s inventory that can be used to satisfy our employment needs into the future. I remain of the opinion that opening up environmentally protected land is not advisable or necessary.
 
I was further concerned that in the same meeting that York Region Council approved the motion to request the Province allow protected land to be potentially used as employment land, they passed a motion to allow a parcel of land in Richmond Hill that was originally designated as employment land to be converted to residential use. This land is located at the corner of Major Mackenzie Drive and Highway 404.
 
Given that this land is right next to the highway it would have been perfect as employment land and would have helped to fill the needs for employment land in our community instead of opening up protected land on the Oak Ridges Moraine.
 
Fortunately, it is my understanding that the Provincial government has remained firm in its position to deny any requests to open up Greenbelt lands to development but given York Region Council’s motion it will be ultimately up to the Provincial Government to decide. It would be my hope the province will deny the request.
 
There have been many news articles published about this issue and I have supplied links to three of these below.
 
Please click here to read a recent article in the Liberal by Kim Zarzour.
 
An Article titled Memo to Ontario: “Just leave the Greenbelt Alone” appeared in the October 13 edition of the Toronto Star…click the link below to read it.
 
Aurora’s Mayor Tom Mrakas opposed this motion and posted this on his website on October 26 following the Regional Council meeting.