Get used to greenbelt

Cathie Coward, the Hamilton Spectator

Premier Dalton McGuinty and his wife Terri arrive at Liuna Station for a Liberal fundraising dinner.

McGuinty says there'll be no aid for farmers
Daniel Nolan The Hamilton Spectator - Nov. 10, 2004

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says his government won't provide financial aid to farmers and municipalities out of pocket because of the creation of a greenbelt through the Golden Horseshoe Area.

"We're not offering compensation," the premier told The Spectator last night after he spoke at a Liberal party fundraiser at Liuna Station.

"I understand there's going to be resistance in some quarters about preserving greenspace, but I'm also convinced 75 or 100 years from now that no one is going to complain that the problem with that provincial government at the beginning of the 21st century is that they saved too much greenspace.

"Now is our chance to do this in a way that's intelligent, rational and provides for responsible growth."

McGuinty was responding to arguments by property owners and politicians in Stoney Creek and Niagara that the government needs to financially support farms, towns and cities that could be hurt by its proposed greenbelt legislation.

The concern focuses on land that has been eyed for development for years and that farmers have planned to sell to provide for their retirement, but will be prevented from developing under the greenbelt. Niagara politicians and others have also proposed the province cover the loss of tax revenues due to frozen assessments.

This concern also includes 400 hectares in Stoney Creek, east of Fruitland Road between Highway 8 and Barton Street. The former city of Stoney Creek had serviced this site for development, which was delayed when the city was merged with Hamilton in 2001.

Hamilton pushed ahead with approving it for development last year, but that will be barred under the greenbelt.

McGuinty said he welcomed people making their concerns known at hearings to be held in the next month. He said the government wants to ensure farmers have a viable future living off the land, but added, "One of the things we have heard from farmers over and over again is they have deplored the continuing loss of greenspace in Ontario. We're taking a stand against that."

He said the greenbelt, which protects 7,000 square kilometres from Niagara Falls to Peterborough, will be open for the development of roads, aggregate extraction, farming, golfing and skiing.

He said, however, urban planners tell the province that the Golden Horseshoe will be the third largest urban centre -- behind New York and Los Angeles -- by 2030.

"People are coming here by huge numbers. We've got to make sure we've got enough greenspace available to maintain a quality of life."

McGuinty was in town to speak at a regional Trillium Dinner. More than 500 people attended the affair, and Brent Johnston, president of the Ontario Liberal Fund, said the Hamilton dinner raised nearly $170,000 for the party. Many Hamilton movers and shakers attended the dinner, including hotel operator Oscar Kichi, Royal Botanical Gardens chair and St. Peter's Hospital CEO Grant Walsh, businessman Chester Waxman, McMaster University president Peter George, and Justin Cooper, president of Redeemer University College in Ancaster.

In his address to dinner guests, McGuinty recounted the work his party has done in its first year such as putting more money into education, tackling rising health-care costs and investing $100 million to help sustain jobs at the Ford plant in Oakville.

Coming up, he highlighted his government's plan to do away with youths leaving school at 16 and require them to "keep learning" until age 18 in either a classroom, apprenticeship program or a job placement program.


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