Greenbelt designation unnecessary in Waterloo Region, home builders association says

Kevin Fergin, the incoming president of the Waterloo Region Home Builders’ Association, says the region has done an excellent job of protecting sensitive lands. "In effect, we have a greenbelt already."

Developers would want to be part of any conversation considering extending provincial designation

Kevin Fergin, the incoming president of the Waterloo Region Home Builders’ Association, says his organization would want a seat at the table if there was any discussion of bringing the Greenbelt to this area. (CBC)

The local home builders' association says it would want to be part of any discussions about bringing the Greenbelt designation to Waterloo Region.

"I think in Waterloo Region, we've done an excellent job by already protecting sensitive greenspace and landscape," said Kevin Fergin, the incoming president of the Waterloo Region Home Builders' Association. "In effect, we have a greenbelt already."

On Tuesday, the provincial government announced proposed changes to four plans that outline how land can be used in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area.

That prompted the group Smart Growth Waterloo Region to issue a statement that, while the move is a good one, they would have liked to have the Greenbelt designation extended to this area.

"The province has missed another opportunity to announce an expansion here when all the work's already been done on the ground," the group's co-founder Kate Daley told CBC News in an interview.

Builders support protecting sensitive lands

The region and local groups have petitioned to be part of the Greenbelt when it was first introduced in 2004 and several times since.

There are no current plans by the province to extend the Greenbelt to Waterloo region.

Advocates say the Greenbelt designation – which is a provincial one and would cross municipal boundaries – would add a layer of protection to sensitive greenspaces and farmland.

But Fergin said before that happens in Waterloo Region, they would want science-based information that it's actually necessary.

"We would support, and have supported, any sort of protections that reflect that, science-based. But to do a broad-based blanket of a greenbelt without that kind of back-up would be concerning because essentially what you would be doing is, inadvertently or artificially, reducing the land supply. And of course that just increases costs for everyone, but particularly the new home buyer," Fergin said.

"It's always about having the conversation and having the opportunity to have a well-rounded conversation with all parties at the table presenting their points of view."

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