Consultations Underway For Ontario Greenbelt Expansion

Ontario Greenbelt Expansion & Plan To Build 50,000 Homes

The Ontario Greenbelt was created by legislation passed by the Government of Ontario in 2005. It prevents urban development and sprawl on environmentally sensitive land in the province. The Greenbelt includes 2,000,000 acres of land protecting farmland, communities, forests, wetlands and watersheds.  It also preserves cultural heritage and supports tourism in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe area.

Earlier this month, Ontario launched consultations on the proposed changes to the Greenbelt. The proposal would expand the Greenbelt by approximately 2,000 acres and facilitate the building of at least 50,000 new homes

A Step Towards Resolving Ontario’s housing supply crisis, as well as Expanding the Greenbelt

Earlier this month, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, issued the following statement regarding the launch of a 30-day consultation to facilitate the building of more homes while expanding the Greenbelt.

Quoting from the official statement:

“Our government (has) introduced the More Homes Built Faster Act 2022, which takes bold action to address Ontario’s housing supply crisis by building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years. Today, we are taking further action to support this goal by launching a consultation on proposed changes to the Greenbelt.

These proposals will support our municipal partners’ plans for responsible growth and help build at least 50,000 new homes, while leading to an overall expansion of the Greenbelt.

Ontario is expected to grow by more than two million people by 2031, with approximately 1.5 million of those new residents in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region. This growth was recently confirmed by the federal government’s newly released immigration targets. To accommodate that growth and support the building of more homes, our government is proposing to remove 15 areas of land totaling approximately 7,400 acres from the edge of the Greenbelt area.

At the same time, we are proposing to add an additional 9,400 acres to the Greenbelt, including a portion of the Paris Galt Moraine and 13 urban river valleys in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, for an overall Greenbelt expansion of approximately 2,000 acres.

These proposed changes to the Greenbelt meet the following criteria, all of which must be met before a property is given consideration:

  • Greater than 1:1 offset must be achieved to ensure overall Greenbelt expansion
  • Affected areas must have the potential for homes to be built in the near future
  • Affected areas must be adjacent to the existing Greenbelt boundaries
  • Affected areas must be adjacent to an existing urban area
  • Affected areas must be on or near readily serviceable land, with local infrastructure upgrades needed to service the projects to be funded entirely by the proponents

Should these lands be removed from the Greenbelt, the landowners will be expected to develop detailed plans to build housing quickly. It is the government’s expectation that new home construction will begin on these lands by no later than 2025, and that significant progress on approvals and implementation must be achieved by the end of 2023. If these conditions are not met, the government will return these properties to the Greenbelt.

These changes are an important part of our government’s balanced strategy to build a stronger Ontario by protecting environmentally important lands while tackling Ontario’s housing supply crisis. We are fulfilling our commitment to get more homes built faster so more Ontarians can find a home that meets their needs and budget.”

Read more on the Proposed Amendments to the Greenbelt Plan.

Should this proposal come to pass remains to be seen as there is divided public opinion around this proposal.

There is a lot of environmental and cultural interest in protecting the existing Greenbelt as is. However, acute shortage of housing supply also remains a big issue for the government to address fairly quickly. As also affordability which we reported in our post on Housing Affordability in Ontario. The government has come up with the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund and Rent to Own Stream to take some pressure off the market, but more needs to be done.

Does the proposed amendment to the Greenbelt Plan hold the key to 50,000 homes? The answer is expected to be revealed soon.

Are you currently in the market looking to Buy, Sell or Invest in a home or a condo in the GTA? Read our October 2022 GTA Real Estate Market Report to find out about the current market trends and options for you.

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