We strongly advocate for the extension of the Greenbelt on the west side of Lake Simcoe. The Town of Innisfil has identified some Natural Heritage areas in its Official Plan.This year, the Town also designated several hundred acres as environmentally protected. This is a good first step. Integrating the natural heritage systems mapping already identified in municipal official plans and incorporating conservation authority data layers into the final provincial map is encouraged.
Along the west side of Lake Simcoe, there are many smaller core natural areas where habitats are fragmented. The Innisfil District Association would like to see connectivity between these smaller core areas. These areas sometimes have high ecological value. Linkages between the core areas should be wide enough to better reflect the existing and potential connectivity between core areas in a fragmented natural landscape. Most linkages also include agricultural lands, where all farming activities are permitted, and some isolated natural lands. These zones must receive stronger protection in your policies to ensure they are not converted out of agriculture or natural cover. We have an opportunity to protect these areas now so they are not lost in the future.
In your “Principles,” please strongly consider taking advantage of input from local residents and their intimate knowledge of very specific characteristics of a given area. Further, we suggest that when creating maps you provide an avenue for local input.
The east side of Lake Simcoe already has strong environmental protection. Let’s ensure the west side of Lake Simcoe receives parcels of land designated as Greenbelt.
Ross Pityk, Board Director and Immediate Past President