This site hosted an open democratic conversation for Ontarians to discuss how to manage the Greenbelt from Sept 18-24. See the results here, read more about this project below, or see the links above to learn about the Greenbelt.

Your Greenbelt

Doug Ford spent years promising not to touch the Greenbelt, and he was elected on that promise in June 2022. So the fact that his government announced plans to open the Greenbelt just 4 months later, and spent 10 months ignoring “overwhelmingly negative feedback” and opposition from 83% of Ontarians constituted a serious violation of democracy.

Only after months of large and constant protests has the government finally backed down from this unpopular and undemocratic decision. But democracy shouldn’t require 10 months of protests for the will of the people to be implemented.

Democracy means that issues affecting everyone should be managed by everyone, and the Greenbelt is an important source of food, water, protection, prosperity, greenspace, and pride for millions of Ontarians. That’s why we want to put democracy back in the Greenbelt by giving all Ontarians a voice on its management.

This project is organized by independent democrats, Participedia, and the supporters below. We’re not affiliated with the Greenbelt Foundation or the Government of Ontario. You can contact us at yourgreenbelt@gmail.com.


The Rules

Disagreement and strong opinions are welcome, but in order to keep the conversation productive and inclusive, we ask that you keep comments respectful.


  • respectful disagreement
  • strong opinions
  • unpopular opinions

Not allowed:

  • swearing
  • insulting, abusive, or threatening language
  • hateful or discriminatory language
  • advocating violence or illegal activity

We recognize that strong language has a place in democratic politics, and that there are disagreements over the proper limits on speech, but this conversation isn’t the place for those debates.

In order to keep the conversation productive, please keep comments generally on-topic. We recognize that this is a big and complex issue, so you’re welcome to link the Greenbelt to other related issues, and we’ll only remove comments that are clearly off-topic.


  • how the Greenbelt should be managed
  • ideas for how to manage the Greenbelt more democratically
  • ideas to improve or better protect the Greenbelt
  • how to balance housing and environmentalism
  • comments on the government’s decision to open sections of the Greenbelt

Not on-topic:

  • discussion of unrelated environmental issues
  • suggestions of things to do in the Greenbelt
  • discussion of Ontario politics that’s not related to the Greenbelt

We felt these limits were needed to ensure people with limited time to participate can still make a meaningful contribution, and to keep this New Democratic experiment manageable. But we recognize that this setup isn’t ideal, and hope that future uses of this method can adopt a broader scope based on lessons learned here.

Active participation is encouraged, but please limit each comment to a single idea and keep your contributions productive.

Not allowed:

  • reposting identical or near-identical comments
  • links to other websites
  • advertisements
  • gibberish, nonsense, or random text

Comments with personally-identifying information will be removed to protect everyone’s safety and privacy.

Not allowed:

  • addresses
  • contact information
  • other info that could identify you or others

Polis keeps comments and votes connected using a random number assigned to each participant, but this number is not connected to your real identity, and we don’t collect any identifying information.

The Conversation

This site uses Polis: a tool to harness collective intelligence via democratic deliberations.

Polis uses machine learning to find broad “opinion groups” in a discussion. It then elevates comments that unite those groups to help the discussion slowly move towards consensus. This avoids “the tyranny of the majority” and helps the conversation reach mutual agreement. Read more about Polis here and here.

Polis is sometimes called “AI”, but it doesn’t use “Large Language Models” (LLMs), meaning it never writes, edits, or removes comments. Every comment you see was written by other Ontarians like you. Polis also doesn’t use “Natural Language Processing” (NLP), meaning it doesn’t know what comments say and just analyzes voting patterns to find comments with broad support. Read more about how this works here and here.

Your comments will get much broader support (and be seen by more people) if you practice good democratic etiquette.

Spend most of your time voting. Polis favours quality over quantity, meaning your ideas will be much more impactful if you write one great comment instead of many similar comments. And if your ideas have already appeared in the conversation, it’s enough to just vote “Agree”.

Speak to the crowd. Polis doesn’t have direct replies, meaning every comment is addressed to everyone. So you should write as if you were speaking to a large crowd in a public place.

Use clear and simple language. Not everyone knows every relevant detail about the topic, so write comments that everyone can understand.

Keep an open mind. Dialogue is only productive when we make a sincere effort to hear each other out and consider other perspectives.

Assume the best of others. People will be more receptive to your ideas when they see that you trust their motives and understand their perspective.

Give your reasons for your ideas. Everyone feels they have good reasons for their beliefs, so they’re more likely to be persuaded by hearing better reasons for a new position than by hearing critiques of their positions.

Appeal to shared values. Democratic dialogue is about arriving at decisions that everyone can accept, even if they don’t fully agree. So your ideas will get much broader support if you adapt in response to opposing views and base your arguments on values everyone shares.

Democracy requires trust and transparency. That’s why Polis and this project are both open-source, meaning anyone can check, re-use, or build upon the code used on this site. Find the source code on GitHub here and here.

After the conversation, the full dataset will be available at yourgreenbelt.ca/results. This will include removed comments (except personal information), meaning anyone can verify that the rules were enforced fairly. While there will surely be some mistakes (we’re only human), we take democratic free speech seriously, and will do our best to minimize moderation.

This project is also based on the belief that democracy must be more direct and deliberative. That’s why the lessons, methods, and resources from this campaign will be made publicly available, and we hope to organize and support more such projects in the future. If you’re interested in running a democratic conversation like this one, get started at pol.is or email us for help at yourgreenbelt@gmail.com.