They recently bought Greenbelt land that was undevelopable. Now the Ford government is poised to remove protections — and these developers stand to profit from that decision.
The Greenbelt of the eastern Ontario city of Kitchener is the largest urban conservation area in Canada. It’s been a success story for years. But it also serves as an economic engine for the city.
The area, located just beyond the existing border of the National Greenbelt, has long been a popular commuter route. In the past, the commuter flow was strong enough that some people would live right on the Greenbelt. But as the area has developed, residents have gradually moved out. It is now home to several hundred housing units, a library, an indoor water park, and a growing number of businesses.
But the city still needs to build its own housing. It needs to get more people into the community — especially people who can afford to live there but aren’t already in the area. That’s where the so-called Transit Oriented Development (TOD) concept makes its greatest sense.
The idea behind TOD is to develop land in a way that is not only more affordable. It’s also more sustainable and environmentally friendly. The idea is that, by integrating transportation systems into the design of housing instead of just relying on existing infrastructure, it creates better communities for all.
This is what the Greenbelt is trying to accomplish.
“There are some people who say it’s unviable,” said Mayor Frank Scarpitti at a May 5 press conference. “It’s a lot of money, a lot of effort.”
But the mayor doesn’t see it as a matter of if. He thinks developers have a responsibility to contribute to the community in a way that makes them more resilient in the future.
“There is this idea out there that the Greenbelt is not a place that can support growth,” he said. “I think it can