CEO, Greenbelt Foundation
CEO, Waterfront Regeneration Trust
Adventure awaits in Ontario’s Greenbelt, a refuge of heritage and natural splendour that’s a stone’s throw from southern Ontario’s bustling cities.
Southern Ontario is the most densely populated region in Canada. From a vantage point of the big economic hubs, it can seem like the concrete stretches in every direction without end. And yet, from the majestic cliffs and rustic wineries of the Niagara Escarpment to the rolling hills and lush farmlands of the Oak Ridges Moraine, our urban environments are surrounded by a Greenbelt that’s rich in nature and steeped in heritage, reminding us of why millions of residents have settled here in the first place.
In the face of pressures like climate change and growing populations, our connection to what the Greenbelt provides in terms of nature, water, and agriculture is only becoming more important.Edward McDonnell, Greenbelt Foundation CEO
“Despite all the urbanization, southern Ontario still remains one of the most biodiverse places in Canada,” says Edward McDonnell, CEO of the Greenbelt Foundation. “There’s a reason why people have been settling in this area for thousands of years. In the face of pressures like climate change and growing populations, our connection to what the Greenbelt provides in terms of nature, water, and agriculture is only becoming more important.”
A Legacy to Conserve and Preserve
Since 2005, the protection of the Greenbelt has enabled a world-leading approach to nature conservation, development of recreational trails and facilities, and economic invigoration for the rural communities across this landscape. Numerous new projects and partnerships have been undertaken and preexisting efforts like the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail have been expanded as environmental tourism has become more deeply integrated into the communities.
Every year, cyclists, hikers and motorist flock to Greenbelt trails for a journey of environmental and cultural discovery, and to experience the fresh air, incredible biodiversity and rich legacy of the towns and villages that have been feeding Ontario for centuries. The people who call the Greenbelt home know that the more residents and visitors immerse themselves in this landscape, the more eager they become to preserve it. The explorers and tourists are also welcome patrons to the many small businesses, from breweries and wineries to art shops and cafes, that make up the commercial diversity of the region. This influx of customers has been a huge boon for rural economies as they recover from the economic downturn during the pandemic.
“Cyclists particularly love to support the businesses and communities they ride through,” says Marlaine Koehler, CEO of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust. “On a bike, you get a stronger sense of connection to the land and to the people. You enjoy the smiles, and you experience more of their hospitality than you do when driving. You realize that this isn’t just a place of natural beauty, it’s also a way of life that is important to our survival.”
Getting Out is Going Home
When the Greenbelt thrives, we all prosper. So, when the streets and towers of the city seem endless, remember that something entirely different, something timeless, is closer than you might think. By bike, foot or car, there are adventures available in all sizes – many curated and maintained by the Greenbelt Foundation and their partners, others tucked away for the more intrepid explorer.
“The Greenbelt is two million acres stretching from Niagara all the way to Rice Lake, full of year-round experiences,” says McDonnell. “There’s something for everyone. You can pick your own adventure.” However you do it, getting out into the Greenbelt not only expands your horizons and enriches your life, it also makes you a part of the essential interconnection and fellowship that keeps Ontario vibrant and strong.
Choose your adventure at greenbelt.ca/explore