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Protecting what is valuable

4.1 Context

The GGH is blessed with a broad array of unique natural heritage features and areas, irreplaceable cultural heritage sites, and valuable renewable and non-renewable resources that are essential for the long-term economic prosperity, quality of life, and environmental health of the region. These valuable assets must be wisely protected and managed as part of planning for future growth.

Some of these features, areas and sites are already protected through legislation such as the Ontario Heritage Act, statements of provincial policy such as the PPS, 2005, and provincial plans such as the Greenbelt, Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plans. This Plan supports and builds on these initiatives. A balanced approach to the wise use and management of all resources, including natural heritage, agriculture, and mineral aggregates, will be implemented.

As the GGH grows, so will the overall demand for water, energy, air, and land. The ongoing availability of these natural resources is essential for the sustainability of all communities. This Plan recognizes and supports the role of municipal policy in providing leadership and innovation in developing a culture of conservation.

As noted in Section 1.4 of this Plan, the PPS, 2005 applies in the GGH and the provisions of this Plan are to be read in conjunction with all applicable provisions of the PPS, 2005 and other applicable documents.

4.2 Policies for Protecting What is Valuable

4.2.1 Natural Systems

  1. Through sub-area assessment, the Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal and other Ministers of the Crown, in consultation with municipalities and other stakeholders will identify natural systems for the GGH, and where appropriate develop additional policies for their protection.
  2. For lands within the Greenbelt Area, all policies regarding natural systems set out in provincial plans, applicable to lands within the Greenbelt Area, continue to apply.
  3. Planning authorities are encouraged to identify natural heritage features and areas that complement, link, or enhance natural systems.
  4. Municipalities, conservation authorities, non-governmental organizations, and other interested parties are encouraged to develop a system of publicly accessible parkland, open space and trails, including shoreline areas, within the GGH that –
    1. clearly demarcates where public access is and is not permitted
    2. is based on a co-ordinated approach to trail planning and development
    3. is based on good land stewardship practices for public and private lands.
  5. Municipalities are encouraged to establish an urban open space system within built-up areas, which may include rooftop gardens, communal courtyards, and public parks.

4.2.2 Prime Agricultural Areas

  1. Through sub-area assessment, the Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal and other Ministers of the Crown, in consultation with municipalities and other stakeholders, will identify prime agricultural areas, including specialty crop areas, in the GGH, and where appropriate, develop additional policies for their protection.
  2. For lands within the Greenbelt Area, all policies regarding agricultural areas set out in provincial plans, applicable to lands within the Greenbelt Area, continue to apply.
  3. Municipalities are encouraged to maintain, improve and provide opportunities for farm-related infrastructure such as drainage and irrigation.
  4. Municipalities are encouraged to establish and work with agricultural advisory committees and consult with them on decision-making related to agriculture and growth management.

4.2.3 Mineral Aggregate Resources

  1. Through sub-area assessment, the Ministers of Public Infrastructure Renewal and Natural Resources will work with municipalities, producers of mineral aggregate resources, and other stakeholders to identify significant mineral aggregate resources for the GGH, and to develop a long-term strategy for ensuring the wise use, conservation, availability and management of mineral aggregate resources in the GGH, as well as identifying opportunities for resource recovery and for co-ordinated approaches to rehabilitation where feasible.

4.2.4 A Culture of Conservation

  1. Municipalities will develop and implement official plan policies and other strategies in support of the following conservation objectives:
    1. Water conservation, including –
      1. water demand management, for the efficient use of water
      2. water recycling to maximize the reuse and recycling of water.
    2. Energy conservation, including –
      1. energy conservation for municipally owned facilities
      2. identification of opportunities for alternative energy generation and distribution
      3. energy demand management to reduce energy consumption
      4. land-use patterns and urban design standards that encourage and support energy-efficient buildings and opportunities for cogeneration.
    3. Air quality protection, including reduction in emissions from municipal and residential sources.
    4. Integrated waste management, including –
      1. enhanced waste reduction, composting, and recycling initiatives and the identification of new opportunities for source reduction, reuse, and diversion where appropriate
      2. a comprehensive plan with integrated approaches to waste management, including reduction, reuse, recycling, composting, diversion, and the disposal of residual waste
      3. promotion of reuse and recycling of construction materials
      4. consideration of waste management initiatives within the context of long term regional planning, and in collaboration with neighbouring municipalities.
    5. Cultural heritage conservation, including conservation of cultural heritage and archaeological resources where feasible, as built-up areas are intensified.
Updated: July 04, 2022
Published: July 17, 2019