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Environmental groups hope to nearly double size of the Greenbelt

"The environmental groups, which include Ontario Nature, Earthroots, EcoSpark and STORM, contend these areas are “critical to a healthy agricultural industry and biodiversity in the region.” They argue that adding them to the Greenbelt would ensure the protection of clean drinking water sources from suburban sprawl in the GTHA."

The Little Rouge Creek winds through Rouge Park, which has been named a Canadian National Park.

LUCAS OLENIUK / TORONTO STAR

The Little Rouge Creek winds through Rouge Park, which has been named a Canadian National Park.

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Greenbelt, meet “Bluebelt.”

That’s the vision of a collection of environmental groups that wants to almost double the size of the protected band of land around the Golden Horseshoe to include water systems such as the Oro Moraine and the Humber River headwaters.

The proposal calls for 1.5 million acres to be added to the 1.8 million-acre Greenbelt — already the biggest of its kind in the world — as the Liberal government continues a review of the protected zone that was mandated upon its creation 10 years ago.

Burkhard Mausberg, chief executive officer of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, said the proposal was created through consultations with conservation officers, scientists and environmental groups. It has been submitted to a provincial panel, headed by former Toronto mayor David Crombie, that is preparing recommendations for the future of the Greenbelt. A report is expected in the coming weeks.

“If we were to grow the Greenbelt,” Mausberg asked, “what should we look at? The uniform answer we got back was: Look at water resources. Look at drinking water sources, look at important watersheds, look at coast lines, look at rivers. In essence, make the Greenbelt the ‘Bluebelt.’”

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