Note: This website is no longer being actively mainated, and is currently online for archival purposes only.

For current news and updates on all of our Greenbelt-related campaigns, please visit our main website at

Urban Sprawl, Greenspace, Agricultural Lands and The Greenbelt

In May 2004, Earthroots launched its new Greenbelt Ontario Campaign. This campaign renews and builds on our successful Oak Ridges Moraine and Niagara Escarpment campaigns. Over the past five years, Earthroots has taken a lead role in protecting southern Ontario’s natural green spaces.

Earthroots supports the Ontario government’s initiative to create a comprehensive Greenbelt plan for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the Golden Horseshoe that will improve Ontarians’ quality of life, protect valuable agricultural lands, and connect the largest biodiversity hotspots in the region.

With the GTA’s population projected to increase to six million people by 2021, we must act now to ensure an environmentally and economically healthy future for our region. We must protect our natural spaces by creating a large Greenbelt and using urban planning controls or we will face a smoggy, traffic-congested megalopolis, sprawling from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe.

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is an un-elected, un-accountable decision-making body, which is appointed by the Ontario government. It has the final say on all development proposals in Ontario. Earthroots’ Greenbelt Ontario Campaign will also work towards real OMB reform.

Earthroots’ new website,, is designed to raise public awareness about how urban sprawl destroys our environment. It includes links to other organizations and individuals who share our campaign goals.

We will be spreading the word at public meetings, community forums and Queen’s Park deputations while urging the government to make good decisions regarding green space protection. Earthroots will build a strong grassroots campaign by supporting local Greenbelt initiatives across southern Ontario. We need your support to ensure there is a strong public voice for Greenbelt protection!

The purpose of this website is to inform and engage the public on the issues. There is a discussion board "chatroom" on the site to provide an electronic forum for us to network and to share activism ideas, strategies and stories!

This site may be of interest to fellow members of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, government staff, environmental activists and whoever cares about protecting southern Ontario's green spaces, forests, wetlands, wildlife and clean air!

For more information, please contact Josh Matlow, Earthroots’ Campaign Director and Greenbelt Ontario Coordinator at (416) 599-0152 x14 or


Greenbelt must be larger to make urban sprawl smaller Taskforce must enlarge study area and stop highways  

(Toronto) Earthroots says that if the government’s Greenbelt Task force is to fulfill it’s recently announced vision and goals, the Province must expand its study area to include surrounding regions such as “South Simcoe” including Barrie and Kitchener-Waterloo. Earthroots has concerns that the current Greenbelt Study Area may unintentionally promote unbridled leapfrog development. Earthroots suggests that the Province increase the Greenbelt study area to resemble the Central Ontario Smart Growth zone and create programs, along with a trust fund, to support easements for farmers and municipalities. “The government should truly balance growth demands with a focus on transit and the environment’, said Josh Matlow. Earthroots’ Campaign Director, “This plan must also ensure that farmers and municipalities receive the support they need for it to be successful.” Earthroots suggests that the Ontario government: 

  • Protect wilderness and water connections between Lake Simcoe and Lake Ontario throughout the region’s parks and rivers. This will better protect our region’s natural systems.
  • Expand and make more efficient the GO transit network for southern Ontario between Toronto, St.Catharines, Barrie, and Kitchener-Waterloo which connects to a larger network including Ottawa and Windsor
  • Create functional incentive programs supporting farmers in the study area including consideration of establishing a trust to provide farmers with financial compensation when needed. Between 1976 and 1996 the GTA lost 150, 000 acres of prime farmland to urban sprawl (an area almost the size of the City of Toronto).
  • Create incentive financial programs for municipalities, such as a share of the provincial gas tax,  so that they do not rely so much on promoting sprawl in order to collect additional revenues from property taxes.
  • Stop the construction of new highways through the Greenbelt Study Area initiated by the previous government. New highways may not be houses but they are certainly another form of development. These highways directly contribute to environmental degradation while providing key infrastructure for future sprawling development.

 These highways include: 


    • 427 extension which is already encouraging leapfrog development north of the current Greenbelt Study Area in Alliston, Beeton, Bond Head, and Barrie
    • Mid Penninsula which might impact the Niagara Escarpment and encourage sprawl onto the Fruit Belt
    • 404 Northwards extension which promotes urban sprawl north of Newmarket
    • Red Hill Expressway which will redirect creeks 18 times and blow the largest hole into the face of the Niagara Escarpment ever seen.

The McGuinty platform states that his government will protect 600, 000 acres of green space within the proposed Greenbelt and another million acres around surrounding communities. Increasing the size of the current Greenbelt Study Area will achieve the fulfillment of this promise. 

 “The Taskforce’s vision must go further than the current Greenbelt study area,” said Matlow. "Their vision should extend beyond the short-term and piecemeal solutions of the past and offer Ontarians a clear picture of what our province will look like one hundred years into the future”.


January 17, 2005
Food Policy Council Intro Statement on Ontario Greenbelt Legislation - click here to read

January 10, 2005
Earthroots responds to government's greenbelt plan

January 9, 2005
Earthroots featured in sprawl article - click here to read!

October 7, 2004
New edition of "What's Up Neighbour?" e-newsletter here for reading

October 5, 2004
Read Jim Robb's letter on the King City Big Pipe

September 21, 2004
Earthroots' Queen's Park deputation on Bill 26 online

August 30, 2004
Greenbelt Protection Act hansard online

August 30, 2004
News section updated

June 2, 2004

Visit Friends of Red Hill Valley for updates on the proposed Red Hill Valley expressway.
Also see this link for info on the tree-sit currently underway.

.June 2, 2004
Check out Earthroots' deputation on Bill 27 - the Greenbelt Act


photos courtesy