The Greenbelt

The Greenbelt is an important public good with many benefits for millions of Ontarians. Read more about this and the government’s plans to remove some of its protections below, or see the links above to learn about this site.

About the Greenbelt

The Greenbelt is a large area of protected greenspace, including high-quality farmland, forests, wetlands, watersheds, countryside, and other environmentally-sensitive areas.

It was created by the Greenbelt Act of 2005 to stop the loss of greenspace to rapid urban sprawl, and urban and industrial development is now banned inside the Greenbelt

The Greenbelt’s most important benefits include:

Protecting your food supply by preserving 4,782 farms on Ontario’s highly-productive agricultural land.

Protecting your water supply by preserving watersheds and natural water systems that provide drinking water for 7 million Ontarians.

Protecting your environment by preserving critical ecosystems, biodiversity, and Ontario’s at-risk species.

Protecting your green space for walking, hiking, cycling, and camping.

Protecting you from climate change by offsetting carbon equivalent to the yearly emissions of 56 million cars and by mitigating the severity of extreme heat events.

Protecting your economy by providing $9.6 billion of economic activity, 177,000 full-time jobs, and $224 million of flood protection per year.

The Greenbelt is also an important public good for Ontario:

90% of Ontarians support the Greenbelt

86% of Ontarians see the Greenbelt as a contribution to future generations

84% of Ontarians are proud of the Greenbelt

What’s going on with the Greenbelt?

Feb 2018: Doug Ford secretly tells developers “We will open up the Greenbelt, not all of it. We’re going to open a big chunk of it up and we’re going to start building.”

Apr 2018: reports on leaked recordings of Doug Ford’s Feb 2018 statements lead to protests

May 2018: Doug Ford says: “Unequivocally, we won’t touch the Greenbelt. I’ve heard it loud and clear; people don’t want me touching the Greenbelt, we won’t touch the Greenbelt.”

June 2018: Doug Ford’s government is elected

2020-2021: Doug Ford repeatedly promises not to open the Greenbelt

  • “I have committed not to be paving anywhere in the Greenbelt.”
  • “I said I wasn’t going to touch the Greenbelt… I have not touched the Greenbelt. We won’t touch the Greenbelt. We won’t build on the Greenbelt.”
  • “We aren’t touching the Greenbelt. We said we weren’t going to touch it. We support the Greenbelt.”
  • “We’re expanding the Greenbelt. We will not build on the Greenbelt. We’ll make sure we protect the Greenbelt.”

June 2022: Doug Ford’s government is re-elected

Nov 4, 2022: the government announces it will open some Greenbelt land for development

May 2023: Doug Ford says of the Greenbelt:

  • “It was just a big scam as far as I’m concerned.”
  • “I think we’re doing pretty good on the so-called Greenbelt … as the Liberals made up that name.”
  • “the Greenbelt was a failed policy, a flawed policy from the Liberal government.”

Nov 28, 2022: the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star find:

  • 9 properties in newly-removed Greenbelt land were previously bought by developers between June 2018 and Sept 2022, despite being useless for development
  • 4 of those developers had donated to the PC Party or hired conservative lobbyists

Aug 9, 2023: the Auditor General’s report finds:

  • 92% of land removed was hand-picked by two developers
  • $8.3 billion profit for developers who own the newly-removed land
  • selection criteria were repeatedly changed to ensure these sites were chosen
  • 5 government reports said Greenbelt land wasn’t needed to meet housing goals
  • 25+ years for the newly-removed land to be ready for housing construction
  • “overwhelmingly negative feedback” from public consultations was ignored
  • the removals will significantly negatively impact agricultural land

Aug 30, 2023: the Integrity Commissioner’s report finds:

  • Steve Clark broke the Integrity Act during the Greenbelt process
  • 14 of the 15 sites removed from the Greenbelt were hand-picked by developers
  • the selection process was rushed, flawed, and unfair
  • an unnamed “Mr. X” may have engaged in illegal unregistered lobbying
    • was offered $1 million by developers to ensure their lands were removed
    • communicated with Ryan Amato frequently during the process
    • gave Ryan Amato a list of lands to be removed, which were removed
    • reported to be John Mutton, who worked with Doug Ford’s former assistant

Sept 20, 2023: CTV reports that Minister Kaleed Rasheed and an aide to Doug Ford got massages at an expensive hotel with a developer whose land was removed from the Greenbelt, contradicting the story they told the Integrity Commissioner.

Ryan Amato, Minister of Housing Steve Clark, and Minister Public and Business Service Delivery Kaleed Rasheed have all resigned; John Mutton (“Mr. X”) is being investigated for potential illegal lobbying; and the RCMP is reviewing “irregularities” in the process.

Polls of Ontarians by Environics and Angus Reid showed:

  • 71-83% oppose any development in the Greenbelt
  • 72% think Ford’s government gave preferential treatment (21% unsure)
  • 56% want Doug Ford to resign
  • 28% approval of Doug Ford

On Sept 21, Doug Ford announced that the government will reverse plans to open Greenbelt land to development.