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Bring the Greenbelt to Guelph, some delegates tell council

Council calls for Speed and Eramosa rivers to be removed from provincial plans

With the province considering expanding the Greenbelt to include the nearby Paris Galt Moraine, several delegates urged council to call for the city’s south end to be added as well, to no avail.

“Today is an opportunity to claim the high ground and to uphold your responsibility to future generations,” Susan Watson told council, meeting Tuesday as the committee of the whole. 

“If Guelph is really serious about preventing urban sprawl and protecting parkland, we would impose a fixed boundary on our city limits and work with what we have,” added Tanya Gevaert, calling for plans to develop the Clair-Maltby area to be nixed. “Protecting lands adjacent to the Greenbelt is just as important as protecting the Greenbelt.”

Council didn’t go with their idea, approving a series of comments on the provincial plan that include urging a “watershed approach” to studies, removal of settlement areas intended to accommodate growth, and eliminating the Speed and Eramosa rivers from plans for an expanded urban river valley designation.

Those comments will be submitted to the province as it gathers feedback on the potential plan, with an April 19 deadline.

Though the area being looked at doesn’t include any Guelph properties, it encompasses groundwater resources that are critical to the city. And if the designation of urban river valleys is enlarged, it would include publicly owned lands within 60 metres of the Speed and Eramosa rivers inside the city.

However, the city has policies in place that offer better protection for those lands than what’s being proposed, notes a staff report.

With that in mind, council decided to step outside the scope of requested comments and urge the provincial government to ensure Greenbelt expansion legislation doesn’t supersede municipal policies and protections.

As for Clair-Maltby, Mayor Cam Guthrie noted plans have been created for the area and its anticipated 16,000 residents with watershed protection in mind.

Though other delegates called for the Clair-Maltby area to be preserved as much as possible, they stopped short of calling for it to be included in the Greenbelt.