Tightening the Belt

<p>A new report praises Ontario's greenbelt - 11 times the size of Toronto - as a model for urban growth control.</p>
April 14, 2008, 9am PDT | Michael Dudley
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"The loss of prime agricultural land near cities due to urban sprawl is bemoaned the world over as a modern blight. But a solution may be at hand, for which Toronto should be recognized as a world leader: greenbelts, or farmland and environmentally sensitive land that has been officially made off limits to developers.

A study being released today says the zone of protected land around Toronto is not only one of the largest greenbelts in the world, but is also superior to ones in North America and Europe.

'Ontario's greenbelt is positioned to be the most successful and most useful greenbelt in the world,' concluded the study, compiled by the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, a Toronto-based think tank. In making the assessment, the institute looked in detail at B.C.'s agricultural land reserve, one of the first efforts to curb sprawl in North America; Oregon's urban growth boundary; the unusual greenbelt that Germany is developing in the former no-man's land along the Iron Curtain; and the famed greenbelts around London and near Amsterdam. It dismissed as a "failure" the greenbelt around the Ottawa region assembled by the National Capital Commission, suggesting it has facilitated rather than hindered urban sprawl.

The study says farmers should be compensated 'financially for implementing environmental stewardship activities that benefit everyone.'

As well, governments need to encourage the consumption of food grown in the greenbelt through farmers markets and promoting crops that appeal to Canada's growing visible minority population.

The study will be submitted to the province as part of a consultation process by the ministry of municipal affairs on ways municipalities near Toronto can have some of their remaining rural countryside included in the greenbelt."

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Published on Thursday, April 10, 2008 in The Globe & Mail
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