Mayoral candidate Josh Matlow announced today that, as Mayor of the largest regional municipality, he will bring together local mayors and Indigenous leaders to form a Greenbelt Leaders council. The council will work with the federal government to safeguard farmland, forests and water sources and protect the vital Greenbelt from development. This is the second plank in his environment plan.
“Ontario’s Greenbelt is the largest in the world and its purpose is to protect farmland, forests, wetlands, rivers and lakes. It’s time we stand together and stand up to Premier Ford to save, not pave the Greenbelt,” said Matlow. “We cannot sit by and watch as his government sells off future generations’ food, water and wildlife to the highest bidder.”
When Premier Ford introduced Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, his government removed 7,400 acres of the Greenbelt, directly threatening our food and water here in Toronto. The Greenbelt covers portions of parkland and farmland in Etobicoke and Scarborough as well as all of Toronto’s river valleys, including the Humber River, the Don River and Etobicoke Creek.
“It would be a generational mistake to put our sensitive environmental and agricultural lands within and surrounding the City of Toronto at risk,” said Matlow. “This land feeds us. The headwaters supply our clean drinking water. It’s simply not for sale.”
Matlow will work together with cross-municipal Greenbelt Leaders to:
- Push back against urban sprawl and intervene at the Ontario Land Tribunal when Toronto’s interests are threatened.
- Redirect existing legal and planning staff from only compliance work toward environmental protection work, with a focus on protecting headwaters and agricultural land that Torontonians rely on.
- Negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding with the federal government to guarantee future threats to the environment will be the subject of federal Impact Assessments when the province fails to act and where Toronto’s interests are potentially affected.
- Adopt a Green Gravel standard and Procurement Policy that effectively boycotts purchasing new sand and gravel resources from the Greenbelt, to reduce environmentally devastating sand and gravel mining.
- Examine new municipal planning and revenue powers to prioritize infrastructure spending that emphasizes intensification over sprawl.
The City of Toronto has a remarkable 50-year history of protecting prime agricultural land, rivers and watersheds and species-at-risk habitat in places like Rouge National Urban Park, Oak Ridges Moraine, the Greenbelt, Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve and the federally owned former airport lands in Pickering.
“If we care about the price of groceries, we have to protect the food we grow. If we care about clean water for our families, we have to protect the headwaters of our rivers,” said Matlow. “As Mayor, I will be one of the biggest defenders of the Greenbelt. I will do everything in my power, and work with anyone who shares my commitment, to ensure our Premier never betrays this trust again.”
Matlow has a track record at City Council of voting to preserve the lands that filter our water, grow our food and support our pollinators in places like the Rouge National Park and Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve. Matlow started out his career as co-director of Earthroots, a Toronto-based environmental non-governmental organization, where he championed efforts to achieve protection legislation for the Oak Ridges Moraine and Ontario’s Greenbelt.
To learn more about Josh Matlow’s mayoral campaign to make Toronto a city that works, the safe, affordable, livable city that we all know it can be, please visit VoteMatlow.ca.
The City of Toronto has a long history of leadership on environmental issues:
In 1974, Toronto Council and Mayor David Crombie called for the protection of ecologically and agriculturally important lands in Pickering, including the proposed federal airport lands. Mayor Crombie took a cheque for $50,000 to Pickering to show the City’s support for that community’s fight for our agricultural land.
In 1999, Council recognized the importance of the Oak Ridges Moraine by adopting a motion supporting opposition to development of the Moraine in Richmond Hill, which threatened the integrity of the headwaters of the Don, Humber and Rouge River systems and their watersheds. That campaign, which included Josh Matlow in his role at Earthroots, eventually led to the protection of the whole Oak Ridges Moraine.
In November 2022, at City Council, Matlow moved a motion for the Province to rescind changes to the Greenbelt and retain existing roles for conservation authorities. CC1.2 9b – Motion to Amend Item moved by Councillor Josh Matlow (Carried) That:
1. City Council request the Province of Ontario to rescind the proposed changes to the Greenbelt to protect environmental features that support biodiversity, natural spaces, recreation trails, agricultural land, and watersheds that sustain all residents of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
2. City Council request the Province of Ontario to retain the existing roles and responsibilities of the regional conservation authorities.
In March 2023, at City Council, Matlow voted in favour of MM5.30 – Save Don’t Pave – The Duffins-Rouge Agricultural Reserve, the Rouge National Park, the federally owned former airport lands or the Greenbelt. City Council adopted the following:
a. incorporate the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve and the federally owned Pickering lands within the Rouge Park;
b. protect the Rouge National Urban Park from “probable risk of irreversible harm to wildlife, natural ecosystems and agricultural landscapes within the Rouge National Park” if the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve is developed as proposed by the provincial government;
c. enforce the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the federal and provincial governments that requires consultation with the federal government before any policy changes are made that may impact the Park and include First Nations Treaty Holders in these consultations; and
d. conduct a federal Impact Assessment on all removals from the Greenbelt and any proposal to urbanize the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve.