Canada’s Capital is rich today because of bold and courageous decisions made by those who
came before. Natural treasures such as our publicly owned shorelines, Gatineau Park and
the Greenbelt are part of the unique identity of Canada’s Capital and are undeniable pillars
of the Capital's cultural and natural heritage.
The Greenbelt, introduced over 60 years ago to shape the character and beauty of the
National Capital, is now part of the region’s vast network of natural spaces. It is a place of
sensitive natural areas, healthy local food, agriculture, research, forests, water and play,
symbolic of the vast and diverse landscapes of Canada. Covering almost five percent of
Canada’s Capital Region, the Greenbelt is significant because of its location, size and role in
providing a place for residents and visitors to experience nature and a breath of fresh air.
However, the Greenbelt faces many challenges. It is expected to respond to diverse and at
times conflicting needs, and attracts considerable scrutiny due to the strict planning controls
which govern land use and the urban pressures confronting it.
The previous and first Master Plan (1996), established land use strategies to provide
recreation and attractive landscapes, to improve damaged and abandoned lands, to secure
natural spaces and to support agriculture and forestry. This Plan takes into account the
extent to which the Greenbelt is presently meeting these objectives and looks ahead to
where the Greenbelt could be in 2067. The Plan renews and expands upon the original vision
for the Greenbelt so that future generations of Canadians can continue to enjoy a superior
quality of life in Canada’s Capital.
Canada’s Capital Greenbelt has strongly influenced - and continues to shape - the overall
character of the Capital Region. The Greenbelt encircles much of the oldest urban City of
Ottawa communities1. Its size of 20,600 hectares (206 square kilometres) is equal to the
urbanized area of Ottawa that it surrounds. In 2011, approximately half a million people
lived within the inner urban area surrounded by the Greenbelt2, representing only a slightly
larger population than that of 1996. Another approximately half million people live within
the City of Ottawa outside of the Greenbelt. Ranging in width from two to ten kilometres,
the Greenbelt lies within eight kilometres of Parliament Hill and the heart of the Capital.