Learn more about Ontario’s Greenbelt, the provincial land use plans that protect it and the role of the Greenbelt Council.
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Ontario’s Greenbelt protects farmland, communities, forests, wetlands and watersheds. It also preserves cultural heritage and supports recreation and tourism in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe.
The Greenbelt Plan establishes the Protected Countryside and Urban River Valley designations. The Greenbelt Area also includes the Niagara Escarpment Plan area and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan area (2017).
The three Greenbelt land use plans work together with A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe to protect the natural environment and determine where and how growth should be accommodated in the region.
Growing the Greenbelt consultation
In 2021-2022, we consulted with the public, municipalities and stakeholders and engaged with Indigenous communities on ways to grow the Greenbelt.
The first phase of the Growing the Greenbelt consultation (February 17 – April 19, 2021) focused on ideas to grow the size and enhance the quality and protection of the Greenbelt. There was also support for adding or expanding specific Urban River Valleys (URVs).
The second phase of the consultation (March 24 – April 23, 2022) asked for feedback on proposed amendments to the Greenbelt Plan and Greenbelt Area boundary regulation to add 13 new and expanded URVs. At the same time, the consultation also sought public input on ideas for additional opportunities to add or expand URVs in the future.
Maps of the Greenbelt
The Greenbelt currently includes over 800,000 hectares of land and extends 325 km from the eastern end of the Oak Ridges Moraine, near Rice Lake, in the east, to the Niagara River in the west.
The Greenbelt Act, 2005 provides the authority for the designation of the Greenbelt Area. The Greenbelt Area is precisely defined in Ontario Regulation 59/05 and shown on a series of maps.
The Greenbelt Council
The Greenbelt Act, 2005 requires that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing appoint a Greenbelt Council to provide the minister with advice on the Greenbelt. The council also provides advice on the implementation of the A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan.
Members of the Greenbelt Council as well as a chair are appointed by the minister through the Public Appointments Secretariat.
The terms of reference between the minister and the council set out the council’s legal authority, mandate, as well as the accountability framework, roles and responsibilities of the ministry and council.
Technical papers on preserving natural heritage features
In the Greenbelt Plan, the Protected Countryside designation is divided into three types of geographic-specific policy areas:
- the Agricultural System
- Settlement Areas
- Natural System
The Natural System can be further divided into the Water Resources System and the Natural Heritage System.
Read the technical paper to help those implementing the policies for natural heritage features within the Natural Heritage System.