Kevin Thomason is an eco-warrior who has battled for years to successfully protect thousands of acres of rural countryside in Waterloo Region. Today, Kevin’s vision is to build on local protections and further protect essential resources through Greenbelt expansion. He believes this is crucial to balance future urban growth, and relieve groundwater supplies from increasing pressures.
Q: How did you get involved in Greenbelt action?
A: In 2001, I noticed too many forests and wetlands were being clear-cut and bulldozed to sustain the booming local economy in Waterloo Region. My neighbours and I set out to explore what to do to protect our natural heritage and achieve a better balance. It turned out that protecting land was far more complex than we anticipated.
Waterloo Region was excluded from the Greenbelt Plan in 2005, but still targeted in the Places to Grow Act for significant future growth, so we needed to invent our own local environmental protections. After years of effort, we developed a number of ground-breaking local protections and planning initiatives to better guide growth and protect more than 15,000 hectares of our most environmentally sensitive lands. This meant that wetlands, rivers and creeks, groundwater recharge areas, and the habitat of endangered species were protected from urban development. Our Environmentally Sensitive Landscape concept was the first of its kind in Ontario, looking at an entire ecosystem and its functions, as opposed to protecting individual environmental features or patches of forests or wetlands. We also developed other complimentary initiatives such as our Countryside Line to provide firm urban boundaries.
Now we have an opportunity to integrate and reinforce our local protections by expanding the provincial Greenbelt to permanently protect the Waterloo Moraine, the Paris Galt Moraine, and the entire Grand River Watershed.
Q: Why does water need protection in your region?
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