File image courtesy Government of Canada

Will Durham greenbelt development be pushed back?

A federal study has been ordered, which supporters of Durham Greenbelt hope, would push back the inclusion for development of Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve (Drap) and Pickering Lands.

A special report on Ontario’s decision to remove 15 parcels of land from Greenbelt protection, includes Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve (Drap).

Whitby Mayor Elizabeth Roy, along with some other GTA mayors, Stop Sprawl Durham (SSD) and Rouge Duffins Greenspace Coalition (RDGC), are demanding that the lands be returned to greenbelt protection.

Now the federal government action may delay the provincial development of the earmarked lands till the completion of the study.

The federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change released the Terms of Reference for the conduct of the Rouge National Urban Park (RNUP) Study on August 15.

This study will be conducted in the area of Rouge National Urban Park and adjacent lands located in the Greater Toronto Area. The study aims to understand the potential effects, including cumulative effects, of past, ongoing, and potential future nearby development projects on the integrity of the Rouge National Urban Park and its management objectives, said a federal statement.

Advocacy groups pointed out that this document (83) is explicit in including potential future development impacts on RNUP natural habitat from not only Drap but the adjacent Pickering Lands, Seaton, provincial MZOs and official plans of all municipalities contiguous to the RNUP borders.

The study page on the federal government’s website mentions “nearby assessments within 200 kilometres”.

“Now included are the potential impacts of future urban development on RNUP agriculture,” said Mike Borie of SSD and RDGC.

“The study area has also been expanded to include areas surrounding RNUP that are ecologically connected such as Rouge, Petticoat and West Duffins watersheds, farmland, and other ecological connections extending beyond the park, such as the Seaton National Heritage System, Oak Ridges Moraine, Lake Ontario, as well as adjacent natural areas and green spaces, he pointed out.

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