ERIN – Erin’s mayor doesn’t see the province’s proposal to add Greenbelt land as changing much in the town.
As part of the province’s plan to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years to address the housing crisis, the Ford government has proposed changes to the Greenbelt.
This includes removing acres designated as Greenbelt land that is considered suitable for development due to being serviced or adjacent to services. These lands are mainly in the GTA and Hamilton area.
It also proposes adding lands to the Greenbelt, in this case around 7,000 acres in the Town of Erin between the hamlets of Ospringe and Brisbane made up mainly of farms and agricultural business.
These lands are part of the Paris Galt Moraine, a recharge, discharge and storage area in the Grand River Watershed.
Michael Dehn, Town of Erin mayor, said in an interview he isn’t positive why the province has chosen this area for Greenbelt designation and finds the move somewhat odd.
“I don’t know what it really accomplishes because it’s pretty green now and there weren't any real plans to do anything down there,” Dehn said.
The mayor explained the under-construction wastewater plant will already be at capacity with the new development and existing residents and therefore can’t add additional to the community anyways.
Dehn was waiting to hear from township and county staff on what planning implications there might be with this designation but understood it might create some headaches for farmers looking to do a severance.
“It’ll change things for the residents who live in that area who will potentially not be able to sever or build larger buildings but that’s still to be determined,” Dehn said.
The province provided the following email comment:
"The government is proposing to add approximately 9,400 acres to the Greenbelt, including a portion of the Paris Galt Moraine and 13 urban river valleys in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
"We are now seeking feedback on the proposal and welcome comments through the Environmental Registry of Ontario until December 5, 2022."
A call and email to Town of Erin’s planning department was not returned, but town spokesperson Lavina Dixit said in an email staff are working on a report about potential impacts for a future council meeting.
In response to an email inquiry, the county’s director of planning and development Aldo Salis directed attention to a past report from 2021 detailing impacts from a past proposal to grow the Greenbelt in Wellington County.
The study area in that proposal included land in Puslinch, Guelph/Eramosa and Erin.
Salis said the concerns are generally the same between both proposals . The report noted the Paris Galt Moraine is worthy of protection but that’s why the county used existing Planning Act provisions to incorporate special policies into its Official Plan in 2014.
“There is no major growth anticipated in the study area that warrants Greenbelt Plan protection and there are undesirable outcomes that would limit options for agricultural areas and impact the stability of rural communities in Wellington,” the report stated.
“The county has been, and continues to be, consistent in its position that there is no rationale for expanding the Greenbelt.”
That report noted a Greenbelt designation means larger minimum lot sizes for farm split consents, no additional residential units allowed, and hamlet expansion isn’t permitted among other policies that “either prohibit or make it more difficult to get approval for small-scale developments.”
A request for comment from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing was not immediately returned.
The full proposal can be found here.