Why a Durham Councillor thinks we must grow the Greenbelt

Councillor Jordan's Story | BY: Erica Woods, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation

Protecting the environment, preserving the beauty of the waterfront, and preparing for the impacts of climate change have motivated Councillor Colleen Jordan since she was first elected as a Regional Councillor for Ajax Wards 3 & 4 in 2003. As a long-serving board member of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), Colleen has been an outspoken advocate for protecting water resources and is aware of the work that still needs to be done.

“The waterfront is Ajax’s crown jewel, and residents want to see initiatives in place to protect it,” says Colleen. The town of Ajax has responded, with an Official Plan recognized by the TRCA as an environmental leader and water quality initiatives in place for Lake Ontario.

Now, as the Province has come forward with recommendations to grow the Greenbelt to include urban river valleys and coastal wetlands, the Councillor is pushing the Province to finish the job by protecting vulnerable water supplies, including recharge areas in the whitebelt like the Carruther’s Creek headwaters. The expert panel guiding the Province, led by David Crombie, recommended that there is a strong case to be made for including vulnerable water resources into the Greenbelt with the legislation.

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Picture on the left: Colleen Jordan. Picture on the top right courtesy of Sierra Club: Carruthers Creek.
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Concerns Raised 

“I am deeply concerned that the headwaters weren’t included in the initial recommendation,” says Colleen. “The headwaters are the most sensitive water resources, and the most worthy of protection. Ajax is downstream. Anything that happens upstream affects us. For example, if the headwaters of Carruthers Creek aren’t protected, we will be at higher risk of flooding and erosion, and water quality will suffer.”

In 2003, the TRCA raised a red flag in a report that the Carruthers Creek watershed is very sensitive and needs a precautionary approach. Thirteen years later, the community in Ajax are still waiting for the protections the Greenbelt can provide.

Ajax Council unanimously endorsed growing the Greenbelt to include these headwaters - “donut holes” that have been left out. After a floodplain boundary exercise in southeast Ajax, residents are well aware that their homes and community are at risk of flooding and development in the headwaters would exacerbate these risks.

Looking to the future

Facing resistance from area municipalities, Colleen is determined to keep pushing to stop urban sprawl in its tracks. “We don’t need to develop over top of our rich agricultural lands,” says Colleen. She’s talking to residents and encouraging them to learn more and spread the word among their neighbours. Residents who want to help out can start by visiting the #GrowOurGB campaign website and signing the letter to Minister Mauro and share information with family and friends.

The motivation for Colleen is personal. “My father was born in 1905 and lived near the beach in Toronto. He spent endless time in the water swimming. Nobody worried about water quality then,” she recalls. “I have grandchildren. What kind of legacy are we going to leave them? Are they going to be able to enjoy the same things my father did? Will we leave them worried about water quality and floods?”

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Take Action

Do your part and visit www.growourgreenbelt.ca to join Colleen and the residents across Peel, York and Durham working to preserve a legacy for the next generation by protecting the watersheds we rely on.

Take Acton Button

 

Click the tweets below to share your support online:

 

I'm taking action to #GrowOurGB because I believe in protecting vital water sources. Join me! | growourgreenbelt.ca/action 

Proposal to #GrowOurGB would protect our essential water sources from threat of urban sprawl. | growourgreenbelt.ca 

Let's #GrowOurGB to include vital water sources left out of current #LandUseON Plan! @BillMauroMPP | growourgreenbelt.ca 

Want to learn more?

Use Neptis Geoweb interactive mapping feature to explore the headwaters in your area: