Toronto Star
National Report, Saturday, July 17, 2004, p. H07
Will do very little to curb sprawl

The residents of Greater Toronto needed a wake-up call and Royson James delivered it.

Since their broken promise allowed a massive development on the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Liberals have tried to paint themselves as champions in the fight against urban sprawl. The new government has bombarded the public with three main initiatives aimed at curbing unbridled development in the GTA. The Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal's paper: "Places to grow: Better choices, brighter future", released Monday, is the newest in this list. The Planning Act and the Greenbelt Act, Bills 26 and 27 respectively, are the others. Within this mishmash of policy documents and legislation are a number of truly positive steps, which have received a great deal of attention, and others that either do not go far enough or are simply antithetical to the Liberals' stated goals.

Last December, the government introduced Bill 27 establishing a greenbelt study area to protect environmentally sensitive lands and contain urban sprawl. The initiative does not go far enough in either respect.

The borders of the greenbelt are the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Niagara Escarpment, which already have a significant amount of protection. Indeed, very little additional greenspace is being conserved as a result of this bill. Given that these natural barriers are well within the functioning borders of the GTA, Bill 27 will do very little to curb sprawl. Areas such as South Simcoe, Kitchener-Waterloo and Wellington are not currently included within the study area.

Earthroots felt this omission would unintentionally promote leapfrog development into areas just outside the GTA. Already, recently announced developments of unprecedented size in Bond Head and Alliston have shown that our concerns are warranted.

The Greenbelt Act states that there is to be no new development within the study area, yet Monday's report publicizes the government's intentions to go ahead with the controversial Highway 407 east extension. The extension could very well go right through the Oak Ridges Moraine, destroying wildlife corridors and source water areas the government claims to protect.

The good news is that all of this legislation is still pending; none of it is set in stone. Ultimately, this government will listen to the public if you make your voices heard.

Andrew Athanasiu,

Earthroots, Toronto