The Greenbelt consists of two million acres of protected land, providing clean air, fresh water and climate resilience to the region. Its protection has extended to 21 major urban river valleys and seven coastal wetlands across the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including Mississauga’s Credit River.
The Credit River is one of only a few urban river valleys in the area, making its addition to the greenbelt especially significant for the Mississauga and Port Credit communities. Brightwater, located along the Port Credit waterfront, is one such community which welcomed the news by inviting government officials and other developers to tour the site.
Flowing 90 kms from Orangeville to Port Credit in Mississauga, the Credit and other river valleys run through cities and towns and act as gateways to the Greenbelt. There is also talk of extending the Greenbelt to encompass more urban river valleys and the Paris-Galt Moraine, a rock formation that stretches across the northwestern Greater Toronto Area. If the plans were to go forward, it would be the largest expansion of the Greenbelt since it was originally created in 2005.
Credit Valley Conservation releases a report every five years to assess the state of the Credit River Watershed. Such reports generally illustrate decline due to reduced natural vegetation and increases in hard surfaces – such as roads and roofs – making protection of the urban river valleys vital to the health of the surrounding communities.
The Credit River is particularly vulnerable because:
– urbanization and population growth is putting stress on the river’s natural features and functions, which will worsen as the number of residents in the Region of Peel increases from 1.4 million in 2016 to 1.8 million by 2031;
– the river’s chloride concentration can reach levels as high as that in a saltwater ocean, which can be detrimental to freshwater plants and animals. This salt can even build up in groundwater, causing year-round water contamination;
– groundwater is a source of drinking water for over 100,000 people in the Credit River Watershed, and its quality ranges from good to very poor;
– ensuring consistent forest cover is crucial, as forests clean the air, store carbon and moderate temperatures. But forest cover is very poor in the southern part of the watershed.
In addition to Credit Valley Conservation’s reports, the Ontario government received 5,500 submissions in support of adding urban river valleys to the Greenbelt.
The Greenbelt Foundation
The Greenbelt Foundation is the only charitable organization devoted strictly to protecting the Greenbelt through research, grants, partnerships, education and investments in its natural, agricultural and economic systems.
An independent charitable organization, the Greenbelt Foundation receives funding from public and private investments. Since inception, it has amassed more than $47 million through investments in farming, environmental protection and tourism.
The foundation’s goal is to create a vibrant, healthy Greenbelt with a protected and restored natural environment, a thriving economy, opportunities for outdoor recreation and urban settlement supporting the integrity of the Greenbelt.
“As climate change becomes a greater reality, our region is expected to experience more frequent and severe major storm events, more extreme heat, periods of prolonged drought, and an irreplaceable loss of biodiversity,” the Greenbelt Foundation stated in a release. “The addition of these waterways to the Greenbelt is an important recognition of the vital role the Greenbelt plays in protecting the hydrological features we rely on for clean drinking water, flood protection and healthy ecosystems.
The foundation noted over nine million people live within 20 kms of the Greenbelt, and in the next 25 years that population is expected to grow to 13.5 million. “The prosperity and livability of the region will be determined to a significant degree by how we utilize natural assets to combat the effects of climate change, protect farmland, support smart community development, ensure critical water supplies and enhance population health.”
The foundation helps build climate resilience throughout the Greenbelt by:
– restoring and enhancing natural systems to improve their ability to withstand and recover from severe weather;
– incorporating green infrastructure to mitigate negative impacts of development on water management, natural heritage and agricultural systems;
– increasing the Greenbelt’s ability to assist in managing storm water runoff, prevent flooding and reduce costs.
Winner of the BILD Pinnacle Award for Best New Community — Planned/Under Development — Brightwater Developments is a 72-acre master-planned community being developed in Port Credit, at the southern edge of the Credit River, which flows through the development into Lake Ontario.
Brightwater hopes to benefit from its proximity to the river, boasting “lakeside tranquility and the calm lapping of water against the shoreline.” The community also includes over 18 acres of public park and open space, as well as trails connected to Lake Ontario, the Waterfront Trail, shops, restaurants, and more.
The Port Credit West Village Partners — consisting of Kilmer Group, DiamondCorp, Dream Unlimited and FRAM + Slokker — are the development team behind the Brightwater community. The group recognized the importance of revitalizing the Credit River and waterfront from the outset, to improve access and recreation opportunities for residents and visitors, while also increasing housing supply.