• News
  • February 28, 2011

Ontario’s Greenbelt Turns Six

Award-Winning Permanently Protected Area Benefits Golden Horseshoe Residents

Ontario’s Greenbelt will be six years old today.

Encompassing 1.8 million acres of working countryside, Ontario’s Greenbelt, arcing around the Greater Golden Horseshoe and also extending to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, is the world’s largest greenbelt. Boasting some of the best agricultural land in Canada, valuable natural resources and significant environmental features, the Greenbelt is also home to vibrant rural communities engaged in diverse economic activities.

Oak Ridges-Markham has greatly benefited from the establishment of Ontario’s Greenbelt. Included in the Greenbelt is the Oak Ridges Moraine, 190,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands, a 12,000 year old remnant of the last ice age, it is the source of 65 major streams and rivers. On the Northern edge of the Oak Ridges-Moraine lies the Holland Marsh, 22,000 acres of wetland and agricultural lands, home to some of the finest farming lands in Ontario. Rouge Park includes many of the best examples of forests, meadows, ponds and wetlands in the highly populated area near Canada's largest city.

Many citizens, municipalities and community groups have been enthusiastic proponents for expanding the Greenbelt in their communities. These supporters recognize the Greenbelt’s benefits as a source of healthy local food, recreational and tourism opportunities, and the protection it affords to our watersheds, streams and rivers.

The provincial government welcomes requests from municipalities interested in growing the Greenbelt in their jurisdictions.

The Greenbelt is a key part of the government’s plan to manage growth, build a sustainable green economy and protect the environment, which will help build prosperous and more livable communities.


"Within Oak Ridges-Markham lies the Oak Ridges Moraine, The Holland Marsh and the Rouge Park, some of the finest protected green spaces in Ontario."

— Dr. Helena Jaczek, MPP Oak Ridges-Markham

"The Greenbelt is preserving a healthy working countryside that contributes to a higher quality of life for both residents and visitors. The Greenbelt is great news for our food security, our environment, our health and our tourism industry."

— Rick Bartolucci, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

"The Greenbelt is working. It has unwavering public support and is internationally recognized as a model for the world."

— Burkhard Mausberg, President, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation


  • The majority of the Greenbelt — approximately one million acres — is irreplaceable agricultural land. There are more than 7,000 farms in the Greenbelt that provide a variety of fruits, vegetables and livestock.
  • The Greenbelt protects the headwaters of all major watersheds in the western Greater Toronto Area, in addition to those protected by the Niagara Escarpment or Oak Ridges Moraine plans.
  • The Greenbelt provides numerous recreation, tourism and cultural opportunities. It is the location of historical landmarks, hiking trails, fairs, festivals, farmer’s markets, culinary tours, wineries, dining and theatre.
  • The David Suzuki Foundation estimates the ecological services and benefits provided by the Greenbelt are valued at $2.6 billion per year. That is the approximate cost the eight million residents in the Greater Golden Horseshoe would have to pay to clean water, scrub emissions going into the air and artificially pollinate crops.
  • An Environics Research poll found that 90 per cent of Ontarians support the Greenbelt and call it "one of the most important contributions of our generation" to the future of Ontario.


Read the Growing the Greenbelt criteria for municipal requests to grow the Greenbelt.

View four new Greenbelt Videos.

Download Greenbelt Maps.


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