Province delays greenbelt legislation for more input

Nicole Macintyre
The Hamilton Spectator
December 9, 2004

The province has postponed passing its greenbelt protection legislation to allow for more community consultation.

The delay was praised by agricultural groups who lobbied the government to delay passing the controversial legislation as originally planned by Dec. 16. Stakeholders will now have until March 9 to express their thoughts on the plan.

"We've been pushing ... the government to slow down and take a second look," said Debbie Zimmerman, chair of the Regional Niagara Agricultural Task Force.

"I think this is a very good step."

Agricultural groups and local politicians have warned the greenbelt will have a significant impact on Niagara's farms and municipalities. While most support the plan, they say it could create added pressures on agriculture, reduce municipal services and dramatically increase municipal property taxes if implemented incorrectly.

Hamilton council also asked the province to delay drawing the greenbelt boundary until the city has a chance to map out local plans for urban growth.

Stoney Creek-Grimsby MPP Jennifer Mossop said the government's decision to postpone the legislation shows it wants to make the plan work.

Community hearings will likely be held in January.

Mossop said the extension was mainly a "comfort measure." While many groups expressed concern over the original deadline, Mossop said that was only the date to pass legislation allowing the government to proceed with the plan. The final details wouldn't have been cemented for another 90 days.

The Grape Growers of Ontario had called for a six months delay, but board vice-chair Bill George said his group is still pleased by the announcement.

"We'll take what we can get."

The deadline for submissions on the draft greenbelt plan was also extended, to Dec. 20 from Dec. 12.

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