Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ontario Trails - Greenbelt to curb traffic congestion, Vaughan Toronto

COLUMN: Ontario Greenbelt one of best assets Vaughan has to curb traffic congestion

Vaughan Citizen
Did you know the Greenbelt helps keep your property taxes low? Did you also know that the Greenbelt keeps traffic congestion from increasing? The Ontario Greenbelt is one of the best assets we have in our ongoing fight to curb traffic congestion and keep taxes in line because it keeps sprawl in check.
I can tell you wonderful things as to why the Greenbelt is important to protect for your children’s future; for farmland, natural habitat and green space. If you’re a home-owning citizen in Vaughan with a mortgage, university-aged children and aging parents to care for, you’re probably more concerned about traffic congestion and property taxes. This is precisely why you should care about the Greenbelt.
Without the Greenbelt, the City of Vaughan and York Region would happily keep growing the city northward, creating more car-dependent, low-rise neighbourhoods that are difficult and expensive to service with public transit and storm water infrastructure.
What would eliminating or opening up parts of the Greenbelt for development mean for you? If you think your drive is difficult now or that your property taxes are too high, both these would increase substantially without the Greenbelt in place.
When cities sprawl, they spread out development farther at lower densities, disconnected from public transit. This results in the creation of car-dependent neighbourhoods, in which everyone drives.
This is the very reason we have traffic congestion issues in Vaughan today. Developing the Greenbelt will only exacerbate this problem.
The Greenbelt also plays an important role helping to retain and filter an enormous amount of storm water. Because of this, Vaughan doesn’t need as much expensive storm water infrastructure.
In fact, it's been estimated by the David Suzuki Foundation that the entire Greenbelt provides $1 billion of watershed services a year, without the costly repair and maintenance your tax dollars are needed for.
Sprawl helps two entities in Vaughan. It helps York Region receive money in the form of development levies and, of course, it helps developers earn enormous profits.
It’s no secret that York Region is not a supporter of the Greenbelt.
The region has accumulated more than $2 billion in debt.
The Region’s solution to their debt problems has always been to recuperate money from development levies on new, sprawling development over the foreseeable future.
It’s also no surprise that the development industry would like to open up more lands within the Greenbelt on which to develop.
In addition to this, the province is planning a six-lane highway through Vaughan, bisecting one of the largest portions of the Greenbelt we have here.
You, ultimately, pay for sprawl while developers and the York Region government walk away with large amounts of money.
The best way to keep taxes low and traffic congestion in check is to protect the Greenbelt.
The province is now conducting a review of the legislation that created the Greenbelt. This is your chance to speak in support of one of the most important pieces of infrastructure in the city.