Should Ontario’s Greenbelt land protections expand into Waterloo Region?

Regional councillors say they should not – unless some changes are made.

The province announced last December that it is looking at expanding the Greenbelt in seven areas, including the Waterloo Moraine and the Paris/Galt Moraine.

The issue went before regional council Wednesday night, with councillors agreeing with a staff recommendation to tentatively oppose the expansion.

At issue, regional officials say, is that Greenbelt protections override local regulations, and Waterloo Region is already protecting the Waterloo Moraine beyond the provincial standards.

The region’s response to the province says that for the region to be in favour of local Greenbelt expansion, the Greenbelt legislation would have to be reworked to allow the region’s protections to remain in effect.

Specific issues cited by the region include groundwater protection and regulations on the depth of aggregate operations when extraction could threaten groundwater.

Groundwater is the source of about 75 per cent of the region’s drinking water.

The Greenbelt currently consists of more than 800,000 hectares of land in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.