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Published on Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Halton Hills 'blindsided' by Oakville mayor's motion to expand Greenbelt in north Halton

Council approves letter to province opposing region's recommendation, says move would infringe on growth

Halton Hills 'blindsided' by Oakville mayor's motion to expand Greenbelt in north Halton
David Coulson photos
Halton Hills council is opposed to the Region's request of studying whitebelt lands to be added into the Greenbelt.
By Alexandra Heck, Independent Free Press

Halton Hills councillors say they were shocked to see Oakville Mayor Rob Burton’s motion requesting the province look to expand the Greenbelt to include whitebelt lands around Milton and Georgetown South.

“It was pretty outrageous that it came from nowhere,” said Jane Fogal. “It was pretty outrageous that our colleagues supported that resolution.”

Halton Hills staff drew up a letter in response, declaring the town’s support for the province looking to expand the Greenbelt into the outer ring of the study area, but not into the whitebelt.

There are currently 15,000 hectares of whitebelt land in Halton Hills, which spans across the southern tier of Georgetown, across to Milton.

“The intent really was to respond to regional council,” said John Linhardt, senior planner with the town, explaining that the intent of the letter wasn’t to suggest that the town is against Greenbelt expansions, or are interested in increasing "sprawl."

“We do need to speak on behalf of our own processes, which was circumvented by Mayor Burton,” said Fogal, explaining that the move to expand the Greenbelt into whitebelt space infringes on the town’s autonomy in planning growth as well as protecting the lands. “We have to speak up for our own municipality.”

Coun. Ann Lawlor initially opposed the town’s response.

“I am anti-sprawl,” she said. “I support the preservation of agricultural land.”

She asked if this motion suggests that the town wants to grow into the rural areas south of Georgetown, stating “I don’t want to regret something I’m going to regret later.”

Linhardt says that growing the urban boundary of a town isn’t that easy, it would require incredible amounts of study and approvals.

“It does keep the doors open,” he said, adding that it keeps the ability to make decisions on the land in the town’s hands.

Coun. Clark Somerville said that the town and region should look to "draw a line in the sand" on growth and make a planning projection for the next 100 years, establishing where sprawl should be capped absolutely.

“I think we need to figure out where we would say Halton Hills would grow no further,” he said, arguing that year after year planners are working on smaller, reactive policies. “Get us off that planning treadmill.”

Mayor Rick Bonnette weighed in, adding that one key problem with the Oakville mayor’s motion was that it would directly fly in the face of the public engagement charter that Halton Hills had passed the week prior.

He said that with 60 per cent of the area around Halton Hills being protected by Greenbelt and Niagara Escarpment, the town should seek to keep the options open for future planning.

The report was approved unanimously.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

Categories: News




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