From late 2003 through early 2005, the Ontario Government consulted on establishing a Greenbelt that would wrap around the Golden Horseshoe. The consultation involved the expert Greenbelt Task Force and Committee hearings at Queen’s Park.
The outcome was a package of results: Greenbelt legislation and regulations, the creation of a Greenbelt Advisory Council, and the creation of this Foundation. The Greenbelt Act, was passed on February 24, 2005 and the final Greenbelt Plan was released on February 28, 2005. The Foundation was announced on June 16, 2005.
The Province provided a grant of $25 million to support the Foundation’s grant-making and operational activities. The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation, with specified objects, and is a registered charity.
As a farming and environmental grant-making organization, we have granted over $16 million in innovative grants and leveraged another $60 million resulting in over $76 million for the sectors. Together with our grantees, we are successfully building sustainable food systems and economies, improving environmental farm practices, protecting essential services and resources, and encouraging local tourism and healthy outdoor activities for all Ontarians.
Some of our activities include:
- Hiking guides- An Introduction to Hiking Trails in Ontario’s Greenbelt
- A brochure that outlines the Bruce Trail, Trans Canada Trail and Oak Ridges Trail. In addition to these three main trails, are hundreds of smaller local trails criss-crossing the Greenbelt. One million copies of these guides were distributed through 225 LCBO stores.
- A web guide to eating locally and finding farmers’ markets – everything from market information, including directions on how to get there, trying delicious new recipes, events calendars, to learning more about the food we eat.
- My Local Greenbelt Guide
- A guide that lists the farms, markets, stores and restaurants that offer fresh and healthy foods harvested locally from the Greenbelt.
- Signage Project
- Greenbelt signs allow us to provide a sense of the landscape. The Foundation has installed vibrant signage along major Ontario roads and highways that identify different Greenbelt regions. Hiking signs, Greenbelt watershed signs and Greenbelt community signs have also been established throughout the region.
- Intern program
- We developed an internship program for recent university graduates with a specific interest in the environmental and non-profit sectors. Within a one-year period, our aim is to give our interns hands-on experience in every facet of the Foundation’s operations in anticipation of the bright careers that await them.
- Summer Festival Sponsorship
- The Summer Festivals program is an effective means to celebrate and inform the public of the benefit and significance of the Greenbelt for Ontarians. Between May and August 2007 and 2008, two summer students attended eighteen festivals, spoke with thousands of people and distributed publications communicating the importance of the Greenbelt.
- CHUM Greenbelt Prize
- A celebration of the Greenbelt and an exciting public awareness and engagement campaign. A contest of art, music, and other live acts performed and illustrated by artists to show their perception of the Greenbelt.
Established in 2006, The Friend of the Greenbelt Award recognizes and celebrates those individuals who have made significant contributions to Ontario’s Greenbelt, in efforts to make the Greenbelt beautiful, bountiful, and vibrant. Winners to date include:
- 2006 – Sarah Harmer
- 2007 – The Honourable William G. Davis
- 2008 – Martha Shuttleworth
- 2009 – Rob MacIsaac
- 2010 - Dixie Orchards, Gallery on the Farm, Alex Makarenko & Herman Gasko, Plan B Organic Farm and Whitty Farms Market
The Foundation not only presents awards, but has also received awards of its own. Three Wilmer Shields Rich Awards by the Council of Foundations, the global umbrella group, were awarded. Gold in 2008, Bronze in 2009 and Silver in 2010. This award recognizes and encourages excellence in communications by foundations.
Begining in 2008 the Foundation has also organized the annual Tour de Greenbelt, a family-oriented cycling event which builds appreciation and support for the Greenbelt and its continued protection. A fresh air festival on wheels explores all the Greenbelt has to offer- fresh, local food, rural hospitality and fun recreation. It showcases natural tourism and agricultural opportunities and ensures safe and sustainable cycling networks within the Greenbelt.