environmentally protected toronto

It just became illegal to build on a whole bunch of land in and around Toronto

The Liberal Party is doing its best to deliver on a campaign promise to formally deem 25 per cent of the nation's land and water as protected in the coming years, adding close to 1,000 more hectares of green space in Toronto and nearby Ajax to the country's Protected and Conserved Areas Database this week.

With a goal to "safeguard biodiversity by reducing stresses from human activities," the decision means that the properties — which include 10 City of Toronto parks and portions of the Carruthers Creek wetlands — will be managed by local municipalities and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and reserved only for various specific public uses, including walking, hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing.

Various levels of government will focus on managing and maintaining local flora and fauna through targeted conservation efforts on the properties, and also on erosion and flood control.

Residential uses are prohibited, as is "erecting, altering, enlarging, using or maintaining any building or structure for any use other than as permitted" — though the provincial government has been known to find ways around these rules.

One of the province's latest projects, the Bradford Bypass, is slated to cut through protected Greenbelt land as well as the Holland Marsh and other wetlands, which groups are now suing the government over.

Other developers have also been given the green light to build on portions of the Greenbelt.

Ford's team is also known for trying to give developers more power and less red tape, and for amending things like the Conservation Authorities Act. The premier's use of Minister's Zoning Orders to fast-track development has been extremely controversial as the province balances an urgent need for housing with respect for the preservation of heritage buildings and the environment.

As the TRCA notes, these new additions to the database are "among the first municipal conservation lands confirmed to be managed to the national standards for protected and conserved areas."

Toronto Mayor John Tory says in the same release that "while this is part of an international initiative, we are showing that efforts at the municipal level can make an important contribution to a larger natural system."

Lead photo by

A Great Capture


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