A recent poll conducted by Environics and commissioned by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation has found that support for Ontario's Greenbelt remains strong.
There's lots to love about Ontario's world renowned Greenbelt, the largest in the world with 1.8 million acres of protected green space, farmland, rivers, streams and environmentally-sensitive areas around the Greater Toronto Area.
In its sixth year, the annual poll has found that awareness has remained steady with nine out of 10 Ontarians agreeing that the Greenbelt is one of the most important contributions to the future of the province.
When respondents were asked what they thought were the most important benefits of the Greenbelt, 35 per cent said protecting natural water systems, 17 per cent said preserving agricultural lands, 15 per cent said ensuring local sources of food, 12 per cent said protecting wildlife habitats, 10 per cent said creation of a single, continuous beltway, seven per cent said limiting urban sprawl and two per cent said providing recreational opportunities.
The biggest bump in the 2011 poll was on the topic of local food, which is becoming an increasing hot issue in Ontario. In fact, a jump of 10 per cent was seen across all local food topics, such as agreement that locally grown foods support local farmers (96 per cent, up from 86 per cent), and that it is environmentally friendly (87 per cent, up from 72 per cent). This is likely the reason we saw so much public mobilizing around the local food procurement vote in Toronto City Council, as well as the recent success of 'Foodstock,' which was organized around the opposition to the proposed Melancthon mega-quarry.
To read more about the poll highlights, you can visit www.greenbelt.ca. When you're done that, here are some things you can do share the Greenbelt love.
• Tell a friend a Greenbelt fact. Here's a good one: each year, the Greenbelt delivers some $2.6 billion worth of ecological benefits to Ontarians. Here's another one: there are enough carrots grown in the Holland Marsh annually to supply every person in Canada with a four pound bag!
• Go for an autumn hike in the Greenbelt and see its changing colours. From Rouge Park, Bruce Trail, the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail and more, there's many to choose from. Take your pick at www.hikeontario.com.
• Bake something from the Greenbelt. It's cold out, so now is the time to bake a cake and share it with a friend. Carrots and apples are in season so why not try this recipe for harvest cake with cider-cinnamon frosting? It will be even better when you serve it with mulled Ontario wine
• Make a holiday shopping list. How cool are you if you get all your gifts from the Greenbelt? A gift of artisan cheese? Yes, please! Here's a handy guide to sourcing out great local gifts for the holidays.
• Keep abreast of what's happening in the Greenbelt and see what you can do to keep it strong and to help it grow. The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance publishes an e-newsletter each month. Sign up here.