Wednesday, June 21, 2023

What Colour Is Your Belt? Ontario Greenbelt

By K. Taylor, Aurora ON.  For reasons that eludes me, we are fond of describing tracts of land as “belts.” There’s America’s rust belt and the bible belt. Up here we have the snow belt and the ever contentious Ontario Greenbelt. Ah yes…the greenbelt.

The greenbelt,” you say scratching your head. “Yes I’ve heard of that, are we still talking about this?” Well apparently, yes we are. I too had thought it was done and dusted, as old and passe as the Jays World Series dreams, but it is newsworthy again. So armed with my mouse and a steaming mug of tea, I set forth to ask Google what all the fuss is about.

Firstly I needed to discern exactly what “The Greenbelt” entails. I knew the basics. It is a belt or tract of land. It is currently green (more or less) and a group of people want to keep it that way. Another group presumably, do not.

I should disclose here that my information comes from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation website; an assumedly biased group; after all it says so right in their name. Oddly I’ve yet to find an Enemy of the Greenbelt Foundation, so you work with what you have. Here’s what I’ve learned.

“But I miss the old St. John’s [sideroad]. The one with trees. With Canada geese crossing in natural harmony. Ok, I don’t miss the geese.”

The Ontario Greenbelt is a huge whack of land that stretches like a lazy ol’ dog across the living room rug that is Southern Ontario. It’s home to all sorts of cute critters like bunnies and chipmunks and really nice walking trails. But wait! There’s more! Not only do you get all these bunnies and chipmunks and forest bathing (great for stress relief!) But we’ll also throw in over five thousand farms. That’s right! Over five thousand farms. These agricultural hot spots produce everything from carrots to beef to peaches to wine. Think of the wine people! And this amazing tract of land, our pride and joy, is protected under the 2005 Greenbelt Act. Yay!

So, like, what’s the problem?

Well. Apparently there have been over 200 requests from developers to remove land from the Ontario Greenbelt. There is pressure on the government from lobby groups to loosen the rules. 130 of these requests are in the York Region area alone so this will certainly have an effect on our town. Now I have not seen every one of these requests. Perhaps I would support them if I did. Except for one thorny issue; protected land is just that – it is protected. As in: it has protection. As in: you do not chip away at it. No matter how good your reason. Building a hospice for arthritic cats? Sorry, there’s 46,000 hectares of available land outside the Ontario Greenbelt; your cats will have to go there.

I’m reminded (as I so often am) of food. Of that leftover pie in the fridge. “We’ll save that for later,” you think to yourself. Only every time you open the fridge you chip off a wee little bite here and a smidgeon there and before you can say “pass the whipped cream” there is no pie left and you look up to see an angry family scowling at you, and all you have to offer up in a box of stale cookies from the back of the cupboard. They’re mad. The pie is gone and it ain’t coming back. It happens. But it shouldn’t. It’s our job to protect that pie from all those little nibbles, be it with plastic wrap or legislation.

I do understand the argument that we need jobs; and one only has to look at the house prices to be sure that there must be a dearth of affordable living spaces everywhere this side of, oh, Saturn. You can’t stop progress! We say. Think of the economic growth! We argue.

Ontario Greenbelt

I get it and that all sounds great right up until I take a drive out along St. John’s Sideroad towards Leslie Street. The eye-twitching commences almost instantly and before I reach the peaceful rolling fields out by the highway I can feel my grumbling crotchety inner-self pushing to the surface. You can call me hypocritical -my home too was once on farmland after all- you can call me all sorts of things unprintable here; but I miss the old St. John’s. The one with trees. With Canada geese crossing in natural harmony. Ok, I don’t miss the geese. But some things are irreplaceable and in my book arable farmland and intact ecosystems comes pretty high up that list. I’d rather nurture what we have left.

So I propose it is our job to ensure this sensitive land (Ontario Greenbelt) remains protected and nurtured. That’s my take on it anyway. Yours may be different. And if you’re polite about it (and if you’re an Auroran then of course you are polite!) then I’d love to hear it. But more importantly let the province know. The public comment period is apparently open right up until Hallowe’en, by which point we will presumably all be on too much of a sugar high to care.

And now the night has worn on, the tea is gone and a glass of Niagara wine awaits. And maybe a slice of that pie, if we have any left.

K. Taylor
Aurora ON

Latest Blog Posts

Anna Lozyk Romeo for Mayor of Aurora, Municipal Elections 2022

To my Living in Aurora blog readers: I am running for Mayor of Aurora.  It is a great opportunity now...

From Shining to Shameful – The Continued Loss of the Oak Ridges Moraine

A picture-perfect vista of soft, rolling hills where wild turkey, deer and coyote once roamed has been reduced to...

North East Quadrant of Wellington St & John West Way Development Appealed

At the February 22nd, 2022 Council meeting, Aurora Council UNANIMOUSLY (7-0) voted to refuse a 6-storey, 150 unit residential...

Important Links

The Knowles Butcher Shop on Fire, June 25th 2021 – Photo Gallery

The so known Knowles Butcher Shop on 9 Wellington Street East is a long-standing building in Aurora, c. 1885....

Church Street School, Construction Site (Photo Gallery)

Photos of Church Street School during the Library Square construction. Photos dated May 22, 2021. Anna Lozyk RomeoAurora, Ontario

Cineplex Odeon – What Year Was This Photo Taken?

Photo of the Cineplex Odeon in Aurora. What year do you think this photo was taken? Your clues are...

Snowflake Path Downtown Aurora, Photo Gallery

Finally, just in time for Christmas snowflake decorations are all working downtown Aurora. ... and this is what we used...

Changes Along Wellington Street, 3-Years Ago & Today

Few changes along Wellington Street. While looking back at some of my old blog posts I came across one from...


Aurora Town Park Memories – Today Children Will Remember Differently

In her book Aurora Memories and More, Elizabeth Milner...

Canada Day Parade 2022 – Vintage Cars

A collection of vintage cars during the Canada Day...

The Great Outdoors – “Hey, Wanna Go Camping?”, Part II

By K. Taylor, Aurora ON.  Ontario is blessed with...

Think About It

Diversity: The Art of Thinking Independently Together

"Diversity: the art of thinking independently together." ~ Malcolm Forbes

You Might Also Like