The Auditor Generals Report in Ontario Confirms Our Worst Fears

by | Aug 10, 2023 | Cooling Streams | 0 comments

Open Letter from Trout Unlimited Canada on the Auditor Generals Greenbelt Lands Removal Report

Yesterday morning, concerning new details emerged related to the Ontario Government’s removal of 2,995-hectares of land from Ontario’s Greenbelt.  An Auditor General’s report revealed that the Ontario government’s initiative to permit development within previously permanently protected land doesn’t consider the agricultural, environmental, or financial impacts of developing this land. While the provincial government has maintained that Greenbelt lands are required to address the housing shortage, municipal planning initiatives have addressed the projected community growth rates by setting aside land for the development of over 2 million homes within their urban borders. Canada has made significant commitments to UN biodiversity targets, native species protection and land protections, and these actions undermine the ability for us as Canadians to do our part to achieve these targets in the battle against climate change and biodiversity loss.   Protected from urban sprawl since 2005 these lands also provide significant value to the growing communities that utilize them. This issue further highlights the importance of the work we and other conservation organizations do in conserving and restoring critical lands and waters as this decision clearly demonstrates government policy is not enough to protect our lands and waters.

Trout Unlimited Canada is a national conservation charity that is science-based, and volunteer driven.  Our mission is to conserve, protect and restore freshwater ecosystems and enhance community health.  Our organization has conducted extensive restoration across Ontario and specifically in the Duffins Creek Watershed, one of the watersheds threatened by this decision.  Development in the Greenbelt threatens freshwater ecosystems, the goods, and services they provide and the species they support, including endangered and threatened species like Redside Dace, Brook Trout and our freshwater turtles. Specifically, our concerns include:

  • The reduction of native biodiversity in and along rivers and streams, weakening ecosystems’ ability to resist invasive species.
  • The compaction of soils and increases in impervious surfaces due to development, impacting groundwater and surface water flows and water quality while increasing the frequency and severity of damaging flooding.
  • The loss of connectivity of ecological communities
  • The reduction of value of greenspaces to adjacent communities for recreation, health, education, and property value
  • The destruction and pollution of decades worth of work to conserve and protect the Duffins Creek Watershed, made possible by our dedicated volunteers and donors.
  • The setback to Canada’s commitment to the world at COP15 to protect 25% of lands and ocean by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

We call on Premier Doug Ford and the Ontario provincial government to enhance the Greenbelt and implement climate change adaptation strategies that improve water quality and quantity and prevent further habitat destruction and fragmentation, rather than removing protected lands to enable development.

This course of events further highlights the need for restoration and conservation action.  Trout Unlimited Canada is doing our part with restoration initiatives and programs like Cooling Streams and Yellow Fish Road to engage Canadians in the protection and restoration of our freshwater ecosystems and enhancement of community health.

Now is the time for bold action on the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change impacting our communities.  We are not alone and join our voice with others in defence of Ontario’s innovative and world-renowned Greenbelt to protect it from urban sprawl, unnecessary infrastructure, and threats to natural heritage and support efforts to grow a vibrant, connected Greenbelt, including its freshwater resources.


Lesley Peterson

Director of Conservation

Trout Unlimited Canada


For media inquiries, please contact Kate Mairs


Trout Unlimited Canada is a nonprofit, charitable organization. Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.