by DON STONEMAN
Pearse’s farm counts among the 1.8 million acres of “environmentally sensitive and agricultural land” encompassed when the Greenbelt Act was passed in early 2005. The designation prevents urban development within the area.
The province is considering expanding the Greenbelt to areas adjacent to it. A licensed real estate agent as well as a farmer, Pearse says the Greenbelt designation, like any other “encumbrance” on a deed, devalues his property and there is no compensation.
To add to injury, Pearse says the Greenbelt enactment stopped him mid-way through the process of severing a rural retirement lot for his father. Pearse says he was using a planner to obtain the severance and fees cost him $15,000, money he says he can’t get back.
Haldimand farmer Wendy Omvlee can expect to hear from farmers in favour and against a Greenbelt expansion. She was named chair of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) “Greenbelt expansion task team” on Thursday. She says the team will be made up of farmers already inside and outside the Greenbelt.
Terms of reference for the task team will be developed at a meeting this coming Wednesday, she told Better Farming.
“Upper tier” municipalities can apply for inclusion if they are adjacent to the existing Greenbelt area. They include the Omvlee’s own county of Haldimand, as well as Brant, Wellington, Dufferin, Simcoe, Peterborough and Northumberland; the Region of Waterloo, areas of Niagara not already included, and the City of Kawartha Lakes.
Omvlee says she “wouldn’t be surprised” if Brant County seeks the Greenbelt designation. “Because of the Greenbelt a lot of leapfrogging (of development) has been going on in Brant County.”
The province will hear comments on the Greenbelt proposal until Apr. 30. The OFA task team plans to present its findings to an OFA board meeting in mid-April.
Omvlee’s task team is holding three consultation meetings on expanding the green belt – Friday, Apr. 4 in Ancaster, Monday Apr. 7 in Orangeville, and Tuesday, Apr. 8 in Peterborough. All meetings are scheduled to start at 1 p.m. and conclude by 3 p.m.
Might there be more meetings? “I don’t want to say no,” Omvlee says, but time is short.
OFA policy researcher Peter Jeffery has already met with federations in counties where a Greenbelt designation might be imposed.
The Greenbelt expansion proposal, number 010-2866, is posted on Ontario’s Environmental Registry BF