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Published on Monday, April 3, 2017

HECK OPINION: Greenbelt fight bigger than Grimsby

Grimsby fight to open Greenbelt will fail, Heck predicts

HECK OPINION: Greenbelt fight bigger than Grimsby
Greenbelt map
Judging by Kathleen Wynne’s comments last week, that she would not be revisiting the Greenbelt plans, it doesn’t look too promising for the Town of Grimsby's desire to break into the Greenbelt.
By Alexandra Heck for Grimsby Lincoln News
On March 29, the Premier said that she would not be loosening the Greenbelt in order to alleviate the GTA housing crisis. She called the Greenbelt the “lungs of this highly populated part of the province,” as she explained that there would be measures coming down the pipe to cool the market, but it wouldn’t be from biting into Greenbelt land.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton echoed similar sentiments about protecting the Greenbelt, going as far as to say that the housing market in the GTA is a “cartel industry.” He said that housing prices aren’t skyrocketing from the lack of space to build on, he says it’s people buying investment homes, flipping homes and property speculation that are making homeownership in his town unaffordable.

Burton says Halton region has over 6,000 building permits issued that aren’t being built.

The day after Wynne made her remarks about the Greenbelt, Grimsby Mayor Bob Bentley was in Toronto meeting with the Minister of Agriculture Jeff Leal, to talk about the report that the town submitted to the province requesting to trade land out of the boundary.

Bentley said that the minister’s tone and demeanour indicated that they were not interested in speaking with the mayor about any proposed changes to the Greenbelt.

“It was pretty obvious that they were there just to say that they met with us,” said Bentley, who says that provincial staff did not even thoroughly read over Grimsby’s report on soil quality for lands in and around the Greenbelt in the area.

Grimsby is the only municipality fighting to have Greenbelt land released. Individual landowners and developers, as well as the Ontario Real Estate Association are the entities lobbying the province. This makes Grimsby an anomaly.


As an environmentally conscious millennial, I have the utmost respect for protections like the Greenbelt. Superficially, this looks like one of the few times where environment is winning against big business. However, as someone who sits in on Grimsby council and sees the growing demand for housing in the area, I see where the pull is coming from.

Looking at the maps, I can see that there isn’t much space.

Grimsby is a municipality that I feel doesn’t yet have the issues of investment buyers and property speculation to the extent of the GTA; however it won’t be long before that becomes a reality here. As housing values climb exponentially, it’s just a matter of time before those with deeper pockets start catching on.

I think Wynne is right on this one, though; allowing for greater development isn’t going to ease the red-hot market.

The high pressure of development in Halton and the GTA is threatening the Greenbelt, so while Grimsby may have a valid argument in terms of swapping fallow land out of the boundaries, the Province cannot waver in its stance on protection.

It would set an ugly precedent and give the developers who have been fighting for years to have land released that foot in the door they need.

So while I do believe that Grimsby is in a bit of conundrum in terms of building more houses, the province is going to make an example of little Grimsby, to uphold the integrity of the Greenbelt and protect it from much stronger forces in the GTA.

Alexandra Heck is a reporter/photographer for the Grimsby Lincoln News, and native of small town Shelburne. Reach out to her at aheck@niagarathisweek.com or on Twitter, @heckaheck.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

Categories: News, Opinion

Tags: Growth , Greenbelt , Halton Regional Municipality , Oakville Town Council

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