Roadmap to Net-Zero

Our ChallengesCulture and Community


Local shops, services, and parks that are close by and easy to get to. Vibrant main streets. Clean air. Walkable neighbourhoods. Locally grown food, protected greenspace and waterways. Arts and culture. These are key parts of what make our big cities, rural areas and small communities amazing places to live.

To keep them that way, our neighbourhoods must be livable, vibrant and work for our climate. And that means resetting our course away from building sprawl that paves over the places we love.

Sprawl is the largest driver of Ontario’s climate pollution, congestion, and loss of wetlands, farmland and woodlands. Sprawl drives up taxes, through the high cost of building and maintaining new infrastructure.

Plus, we lose the urgently needed flood prevention, carbon storage and water filtration that nature does for free.

Ontario must restore good planning and city building, which have been ravaged by the Progressive Conservative government and their indiscriminate and destructive actions that destroy wetlands and worsen sprawl.

Communities can and must be connected, affordable and sustainable, featuring:

  • Municipal governments with the authority and resources to achieve net-zero community emissions by 2045.
  • Safe streets and quality, equitable public spaces.
  • Durable, resilient infrastructure.
  • Constructive sharing of knowledge, tools and public space.

Key metrics for culture and community will include:

  • The percentage of housing unit growth within urban boundaries.
  • The percentage of homes within 10 minutes’ walk of green space.
  • Active engagement by artists and cultural institutions in visualizing the green transition.

The Green Party’s key policies for achieving thriving culture and community will include:

Municipal climate leadership

  • Support municipal climate coordination groups such as the Climate Caucus and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.
  • Put a strong climate lens on all government decisions, including a $300 per tonne shadow carbon price on capital investments.
  • Require all municipalities to adopt plans for reducing corporate and community emissions as far as possible to net-zero by 2045, and give them the authority and tools to implement them, plus long-term predictable funding.
  • Support for community energy plans.
  • Reform market value property taxation to stop subsidizing sprawl and discouraging retrofits.

Green space

Access to safe, healthy greenspace has lifelong benefits to people’s physical and mental health.

Greenspace also improves resilience, provides wildlife habitat, builds a relationship with nature, cleans stormwater, and moderates extreme heat, and can be used to grow food.

Access to greenspace can be challenging, especially for vulnerable communities in urban areas. Ontario Greens will therefore:

  • Promote equitable access to public open spaces.
  • Put a strong climate lens on all government decisions, including a $300 per tonne shadow carbon price on capital investments.
  • Enhance tree canopies, giving better legal protection to urban trees.
  • Restore, enhance and expand public green space, including parks, and improve their biodiversity.
  • Support healing forests that promote reconciliation.
  • Support urban municipalities to create accessible, local, infill greenspaces so that, by 2030, there is one within a 10 minute walk of all homes.

See Public open space and Improve access to nature and greenspace.

Man With Child On Bicycle - GPO Housing Strategy Header Image

Land use

Undo all of the Conservative government’s damage to Ontario planning laws and policies:

  • Development Charges: Ensure that growth is self-sustaining and pays the complete short- and long-term costs of hard and soft infrastructure.
  • Changes to the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan and Provincial Policy Statement that turbocharged low density sprawl.
  • Retroactively invalidate all Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZO) and related approvals since June 2018 that affected provincially significant wetlands, such as Duffins Creek. Review for possible revocation of all other MZOs and similar planning measures adopted that expand sprawl or damage natural heritage areas such as wetlands.
  • Retroactively invalidate all approvals since June 2018 that Conservation Authorities were forced to issue because of Bill 229’s damage to the Planning Act and the Conservation Authorities’ Act.
  • Amend the Planning Act to restrict the use of MZOs to public projects of provincial importance and to:
    • Require that MZOs be consistent with an updated Provincial Policy Statement that protects nature.
    • Give the public notice and an opportunity to comment on proposed MZOs and a right to appeal them once they are issued.
    • Uphold the duty to consult First Nations.

Stop urban sprawl

  • Freeze urban boundaries.
  • Require that all population growth be accommodated within land that is already built up or included within existing settlement area boundaries, using infill development to drive improvements in transit, walking and cycling infrastructure, availability of affordable housing, and a diversity of uses that benefit existing neighborhoods.
  • Stop provincial funding for infrastructure that promotes sprawl, including roads, transit and water/sewer systems.
  • Assist municipalities to transition their budgets and operations to a new model of internal growth without sprawl.
  • Drop policies requiring outlying Greater Golden Horseshoe Area municipalities to facilitate low-density housing.
  • Prohibit “exclusionary zoning”.

What is Sprawl?

Sprawl is a 1950s recipe for building cities that:

  • Bulldozes large amounts of farmland and natural areas, often on the edge of towns and cities but also far removed from existing towns and cities.
  • Builds isolated homes in neighbourhoods far away from where people work and shop.
  • Forces people to drive, to get around which means owning expensive vehicles and being surrounded by large amounts of road infrastructure, highways and parking lots.
  • Allows developers to keep making profits by destroying farmland and natural areas in and around the Greenbelt instead of building sustainable communities within already developed areas that include a mix of affordable housing types.
Housing Strategy GPO - Green Housing Complex

Arts and Culture

Arts and culture play a key role in reaching people’s hearts and minds, inspiring action and building community and resilience.

Artistic and cultural endeavours create social cohesion and identity and give communities the power to shape their own narratives. Through visual art, music, theatre and so much more, we tell our stories, creating a shared history and an imagined future.

In the planetary crisis, art and culture can lead the way, helping people to:

  • Imagine, and try out, a sustainable future, where we choose a culture of stewardship instead of the culture of consumption that fossil fuels created.
  • Enjoy the green transition, e.g. by making cities more walkable and green infrastructure more beautiful.
  • Find resilience when we need it most, helping people to heal and rebuild following climate-related disasters, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

Many artists are already working at the green edge, and their leadership deserves public support. Ontario Greens will create a Creative Climate Action Fund to support artists and cultural organizations to challenge, inform and engage audiences in conversations about the planetary crisis, what makes it personal and how we respond to it.


Education plays a key role in preparing for the green transition.

Ontario Greens will:

  • Equip children and youth to thrive in the changed future we have created, by integrating environmental education and Indigenous ways of knowing throughout the curriculum.
  • Help youth to cope with climate anxiety and prepare for the green transition, e.g. through meaningful engagement and action in their communities.
  • Restore funding for eco-schools.