Greenbelt development fight heats up in Hamilton as Ontario says moves address housing crisis


Published July 28, 2023 at 6:17 pm

Greenbelt environment

A group of Hamilton advocates fighting the development of the Greenbelt is holding its first protest this summer in Waterdown on Saturday.

The rally is set for 10:30 a.m. on July 29 at the corner of Dundas and Hamilton streets in Waterdown, which is the riding of Donna Skelly, MPP for Flamborough-Glanbrook.

Martha Howatt, a volunteer with Stop Sprawl Hamilton, said the provincial PC party has made several promises in the past few years that they will save the Greenbelt and not allow it to be developed.

“Unfortunately, they have changed their minds and even though Hamilton voted overwhelmingly to preserve our greenspace, the provincial government is trying to override the municipalities’ plans,” she said in an email to

Howatt explained that even Premier Doug Ford’s consultants said there is enough land within the urban boundary to develop the needed housing. “There is enough land to house the thousands of immigrants slated to arrive in the next few years,” she explained. “Sadly, the proposed sites, in this area, do not have any infrastructure and as it stands now tax-payers will be expected to foot the bill.”

Moreover, she highlighted that another issue beyond sprawl is Ontario changing the Endangered Species Act, which she said resulted in the loss of protection for many local flora and fauna.

“Over 200 species are endangered in Ontario (and) there has been no environmental assessment carried out on the sites due to be developed,” she explained.

Many bodies of water could be affected, which she and other advocates fear will not only affect habitat but also possibly people’s drinking water.

She said they had several rallies in Hamilton, phoned politicians, sent letters, e-mails, signed petitions and placed yard signs, but didn’t receive a response from politicians.

“As voters it is very frustrating to feel unheard by our elected officials,” she said. “Voters are so disengaged, as seen in the last provincial election, where less than 50% of the population voted. The PC government was elected with 18% of the vote.”

Ontario says it’s ‘acting decisively to fix’ housing supply crisis

In response to advocates’ concerns about Greenbelt development, Victoria Podbielski, press secretary for Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, said Ontario is “acting decisively to fix” Ontario’s housing supply crisis.

“We are considering every possible option to get more homes built faster so more Ontarians can find a home that meets their needs and budget,” she said in an email to

Ontario is expected to grow by more than two million people by 2031, with about 1.5 million of those new residents in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region, she added.

“To accommodate that growth and support the building of more homes, our recent changes will help build at least 50,000 new homes, while leading to an overall expansion of the Greenbelt by approximately 2,000 acres,” she said. “This includes adding lands located within the Paris Galt Moraine, as well as 13 urban river valleys, to provide enhanced protection for these valuable green spaces.”

She said the lands removed from the Greenbelt “provide a unique opportunity for the provincial government to ensure Ontarians’ housing needs are addressed.”

The Ontario government expects that at least 10 per cent of these homes must be affordable. “If these conditions are not met, and if progress on these new homes does not adequately proceed by 2025, the provincial government will return these lands to the Greenbelt.”

She added that “these projects must avoid impacts to species at risk and will be subject to all rules and regulations as set out in Ontario’s Endangered Species Act.”

As well, she said the province will require that environmentally sensitive areas are protected before any construction begins.

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