Five Benefits of Low Carbon Communities 

Investing and Operating Infrastructure Wisely


Daily life in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) depends on a wide range of infrastructure (transit, cycling, roads, water supply, storm-water management and treatment, and energy generation and transmission) to keep our communities working.

Much of our existing infrastructure is aging. The pace of growth in the region requires investments in transit infrastructure, green infrastructure and renewal of outdated systems to support conservation of water and energy.

Meanwhile, the changing climate is bringing about increases in extreme weather events which requires us to adopt more efficient standards that include life cycle assessment for infrastructure design and operation.  

Complete Communities

By building complete communities we create healthy, prosperous communities, improve air quality and reduce taxes. Renewing our communities by building within in our existing urban footprint reduces the need to extend costly infrastructure, maximizes use of our existing sewers and roads, provides access to shops and community services and increases the revenue needed for investment in transit.  

Housing Affordability and Equity

As in other thriving metropolitan regions, many communities in the GGH are facing issues of housing affordability, which are driven primarily by location preference, lack of affordable housing options, sustained population growth and interest rates. Complete communities provide for a range and mix of housing options, including more affordable second units, and rental and co-op housing options near transit stations that can accommodate a range of household sizes.

Addressing Climate Change

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing the GGH and the province as a whole. By 2050, we can expect an increase in average summer temperatures ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 degrees Celsius in southern Ontario and 1 to 4.5 degrees Celsius in Northern Ontario, depending on location. The projected change in winter temperatures is even more dramatic, increasing by 3 to 6 degrees Celsius in southern Ontario and 6 to 10 degrees Celsius in Northern Ontario, depending on location.

This will have significant impacts on our environment, economy, health and quality of life. For instance:

  • In April 2012 an estimated 80 per cent of the province’s apple crop was wiped out by a late frost. A warmer than average March pushed the growing season ahead leaving apple blossoms vulnerable to cooler weather.
  • On July 8, 2013 the GTA experienced significant flooding after 126 millimetres of rainfall was recorded, exceeding the previous record set during Hurricane Hazel in 1954.
  • In December 2013, an ice storm in southern Ontario and eastern Canada resulted in $200 million in insured losses and pushed the 2013 total insured loss from severe weather across Canada to a record of $3.2 billion.

Ensuring GGH Participation in the Emerging Green Economy

In the face of climate change, the most effective way to ensure that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are reduced is by transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The emerging low carbon economy is now a growing $600 billion/year revenue opportunity.

The GGH region is well positioned to thrive in a low-carbon context but needs to act now to maximize the potential benefits. While governments at all levels need to put in place the conditions that will stimulate innovation, mobilize investment, enhance market access, and foster talent and skills development, private interests need to drive the process, engage with governments, and play a leadership role in developing a vision for our Region’s low-carbon future.

Benefits of the Greenbelt and Growth Plan

The Greenbelt Plan and Growth Plan are the cornerstone of a provincial policy framework that supports building healthy communities. These plans set boundaries for development to stop sprawl, which contributes to our quality of life, local food economy and protects natural heritage. There is a misconception that the Greenbelt Plan affects land prices. On the contrary, land values are not affected by the Greenbelt and studies show there are many factors contributing to the high cost of housing.

Protecting Farmland, and Supporting our Local Food System

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Farms in the Greenbelt generate $35 billion in revenue for the agri-food industry, providing local food for farmers’ markets, restaurants and grocery stores. Between 1996 and 2001, 16 per cent of farmland in Ontario was lost to development. Beyond the Greenbelt, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture estimates Ontario is still losing 100 acres of farmland each day. The Greenbelt ensures Ontarians have access to fresh, local food sources.  

Connecting our Natural Heritage Systems

The Greenbelt provides $2.6 billlion annually in  ecosystem services, such as air filtration and clean water through forests, headwaters and river systems, while providing habitat for animals.

Protecting Fresh Water

The Greenbelt is the source of water for rivers, wetlands, and lakes, while providing a source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people. By protecting and expanding  the Greenbelt we improve water quality.  

Providing Green Space

The Greenbelt is a place for recreation. From hiking, to cycling, and canoeing, there is something for everyone in the Greenbelt. The Greenbelt is home to nature and close to home.  

What You Can Do

If you're running for municipal office this October, take the pledge to show your support for better communities.

You don't have to run for office to support us. See if any of your local candidates have committed their support by visiting our Leaders page. You can also contact your local candidates and encourage them to take the pledge.