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Ontario Greenbelt Workshops

November 2023

Workshop 1: "Sustainability and You"

In November 2023, HNP Ontario hosted the "Sustainability and You" Workshop, the first in its Greenbelt series. This was an interactive virtual event where HNP Ontario invited two guest speakers to help the audience learn more about Ontario's Greenbelt. The 2 hour workshop educated the audience through an in-depth explanation of the Greenbelt while also enlightening workshop attendees on the threats Ontarios Greenbelt faces alongside solutions toward its current threats. 

What Is The Greenbelt ?

Ontario's Greenbelt is a vast area of protected green space surrounding the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Ontario, Canada. Established in 2005, it serves as a buffer zone against urban sprawl and development, aiming to preserve agricultural land.

The Greenbelt encompasses over 2 million acres of land, providing essential habitat for wildlife and contributing to clean air and water. The Greenbelt plays a crucial role in promoting long-term environmental sustainability in Ontario and Canada as a whole nation.

Workshop 2: Urban Sustainability

On November 19th, 2023, HNP Ontario hosted another exciting online workshop, the second in their Greenbelt series.  This workshop featured two guest speakers, with over 60 participants. Participants were given the chance to not only listen to the guest speakers, but also actively participate through discussion opportunities in break-out rooms.  The guest speakers educated the participants about the history of the Gerenbelt, the benefits of the Greenbelt, and the collaboration between the Greenbelt and Indigenous communities. 

Workshop Overview

The second workshop of the series covered a variety of topics that were based on the Greenbelt. The first part of the workshop, led by Professor Robert B, Gibson,  covered how the Greenbelt was created and the Greenbelt's impact on a variety of factors, including climate change, biodiversity, hydrology, and agriculture. 

Participants were then split into break out rooms to discuss topics related to the previously covered material.

The second part of the workshop, led by Rosalind Snyder, had a focus on the history of Indigenous populations as well as the positive effects of collaboration between the Greenbelt Foundation and those Indigenous populations.  The contribution of the Greenbelt's flora and fauna towards Ontario's biodiversity was also discussed. 

Thank You to Our Guest Speakers!

Franz Hartman

Chair of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance

Franz has been actively engaged in urban and environmental issues for over 33 years, with a focus on public engagement and policy advocacy. In 1998 he earned a PhD in urban environmental policy from York University and started working for City Councillor Jack Layton as his environmental advisor until 2002. From 2003-6, he worked with Jack in Ottawa leading Jack's civil society outreach. From 2007 and 2018 he was the Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.


In 2009 Franz first started working on the Greenbelt. He eventually became Chair of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance and then its Coordinator in 2020. Since then, Franz has focused on the intersection between housing, the environment, the Greenbelt and urban planning and helped found the Alliance in Liveable Ontario in early 2022.


Ian Borsuk

Climate Campaign  Coordinator at Environment Hamilton

lan currently lives in Hamilton and works at Environment Hamilton as the climate campaign coordinator where he operates as the city's only full-time transit advocate, and has helped push for climate action locally with good policy and, notably, convincing City Council to declare a climate emergency. He currently sits as the vice president of the Hamilton-Centre federal NDP riding association. He has also written for Rabble, VICE Canada, and others.


Robert B. Gibson

Professor at University of Waterloo

Robert B. Gibson is a professor in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo. He works on sustainability applications. Since 2007, shortly after the Greenbelt was established, he has been an advisor to the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Rosalind Snyder

Masters Candidate at University of Waterloo

My name is Rosalind Snyder, a current candidate for a Masters in Environmental Sciences in Socio-Ecological Sustainability, supported by my graduate advisor, Robert Gibson. My major research paper explores diverse stories of successful community sustainability initiatives within the Ontario Greenbelt region, in an effort to better understand factors that contribute to enhancing sustainability across diverse sustainability themes and communities. By amplifying these positive stories and their unique and creative approaches, the narrative of enhancing sustainability can shift from focusing on negative changes, to developing community sustainability pathways that are effective and actionable. 

The Yes In My Backyard Movement !

The Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) movement is a grassroots advocacy effort aimed at promoting the development of housing and infrastructure in urban areas. . Through community engagement the YIMBY movement strives to encourage responsible urban development that benefits residents and promotes sustainable cities.

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