The State of Greenlands Protection in South-Central Ontario

The State of Greenlands Protection in South-Central Ontario provides an inventory of the extent and distribution of designated Greenlands in south-central Ontario, and an assessment of the likelihood that they will persist in the future.

“Greenlands” are defined as natural heritage features such as woodlands, wetlands, valleys, watercourses, and waterbodies, as well as conservation areas, agricultural preserves, or Crown land. Agricultural areas are included only if protected by municipal policy.

Using information from provincial and municipal governments, conservation authorities, and non-governmental organizations, the researchers compiled the inventory in a digital (i.e., GIS-compatible) format. They then assigned each individual greenland area , one of four levels of protection, on the basis of policy and recent precedents:

  • Level 1: Fully Protected. These are the features most likely to persist, because they are subject to policies that prevent or tightly restrict development on them.
  • Level 2: Generally Protected. The policies governing these features permit development or site alteration if it can be demonstrated that there will be no negative impacts on the features or their ecological functions.
  • Level 3: Partially Protected. These are given some mention in upper-tier municipal Official Plans, but the degree of policy protection is not high.
  • Level 4: Not Protected. These are Greenlands that are recognized but receive absolutely no protection at the Region or County level.

These four levels are assigned different colours on the map of the region as a whole and are also shown in more detail in maps of the 14 single- or upper-tier municipalities that make up the region. For each of the 14 municipalities, the report also provides a description of the natural environment setting of the municipality; a table summarizing the level of Greenlands protection according to the applicable Official Plan; and a pie chart that illustrates the percentage of land within each municipality by level of protection.

A summary of the findings by municipality is shown in Table below:

Upper-tier Municipality

% Level1

% Level2

% Level3

% Level4

% Non-Greenland*

County of Dufferin

6.0

4.5

4.2

14.1

71.2

Regional Municipality of Durham

16.2

5.3

21.6

5.3

51.5

Regional Municipality of Halton

4.1

13.0

8.0

13.6

61.4

City of Hamilton

6.5

13.7

4.8

2.1

72.9

City of Kawartha Lakes

8.9

2.0

11.3

27.0

50.8

Regional Municipality of Niagara

3.5

3.7

12.8

9.6

70.4

County of Northumberland

10.6

4.8

7.4

21.3

56.0

Regional Municipality of Peel

7.0

13.5

7.6

3.9

67.9

County of Peterborough

6.8

2.2

7.7

54.0

29.3

County of Simcoe

8.3

4.5

28.6

12.5

46.1

City of Toronto

0.3

17.9

0.0

0.2

82.0

Regional Municipality of Waterloo

3.6

4.2

1.3

8.6

82.4

County of Wellington

8.8

22.2

1.1

1.5

66.3

Regional Municipality of York

15.1

11.1

14.0

4.1

55.8

Total

8.4

7.2

12.0

17.1

55.3

* Includes urban and unprotected agricultural land.