Norm Sterling named as Chair of Greenbelt Council; was a former Minister of Environment

News 100 green By Staff

April 29th 2021



The Ontario government has appointed Norm Sterling as Chair of the Greenbelt Council. The former minister of environment, and founding member of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, will help guide the province as it undertakes what could result in the largest expansion of the Greenbelt since its creation in 2005.

Norm Sterling

Norm Sterling, former Minister of Environment named as Chair of the Greenbelt Council.

“Mr. Sterling brings important experience to the Greenbelt Council, and I am confident that under his leadership there will be incredible work done to support growing the Greenbelt,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “As a fellow grandparent, we understand the importance of leaving all of our grandchildren, and great grandchildren, with an enhanced version of the gem that is the Greater Golden Horseshoe.”

The Greenbelt Council was created to provide advice to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on land use matters related to the Greenbelt, including education and outreach to promote the goals of the Greenbelt Plan.

In December, six members of Ontario’s Greenbelt Council stepped down — joining David Crombie, the council’s chair — to protest proposed government rules they say would gut environmental protections in the province.

Crombie DAvid

David Crombie, served as the Chair of the Greenbelt Council – resigned in protest.

Crombie, a former Progressive Conservative federal cabinet minister and Toronto mayor, says his resignation, which takes effect immediately, comes in response to measures contained in an omnibus budget bill tabled last month by the provincial government.

Sterling, doing his best to fill the Crombie shoes said: “It is an honour to serve as Chair of the Council as we work towards growing the Greenbelt. I will leverage my experience to work collaboratively with our council to ensure that we are working toward protecting and growing the Greenbelt.”

NEC mapOntario’s Greenbelt protects farmland, communities, forests, wetlands and watersheds. It also preserves cultural heritage and supports recreation and tourism in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe.

• Established under the Greenbelt Act, 2005, the Greenbelt is a broad band of protected land that currently includes over 800,000 hectares of land in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

• The Greenbelt currently contains 21 urban river valleys and associated wetlands. These are the valleys of rivers that pass-through cities or towns and act as urban gateways to the Greenbelt.

• The term of Mr. Sterling’s appointment is for three years.

• All Greenbelt Council Members receive a per diem for attending meetings.

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2 comments to Norm Sterling named as Chair of Greenbelt Council; was a former Minister of Environment

  • Blair Smith

    Interesting – I tend to share Andrew’s lack of enthusiasm with this appointment. Norm Sterling has been nothing but a Tory hack from the time he was fortunate enough to win a Nepean seat in the provincial legislature. The first thing that he will tell you is that he is both an engineer and a lawyer. Not entirely sure what this is intended to mean but it is Sterling’s standard intro. In 1981, he was the Justice Secretary and responsible for the Tory Government’s response to the Williams and Krever Commissions (Freedom of Information and the Protection of Privacy). He posited the notion of Ministerial Accountability (MA) as a viable alternative to the proposed separate, independent judicial review of access disputes. Not the most popular or cogent alternative. He made a stump speech at some Tory fundraiser and when MA was questioned in the Legislature Question Period he freely admitted that “he didn’t understand the concept either” (check Hansard). He cried when the Queen’s Counsel designation was eliminated in 1981 and has hung around the fringes of the party for over 40 years. This is an absolutely terrible and disheartening appointment and patronage at its absolute worst. Time for this man to retire.

  • Andrew Drummond

    It is worth noting that Mr. Sterling has consistently been an opponent of the Greenbelt’s existence. His appointment in response to a political resignation is not a good sign for the future of protected land anywhere in Ontario.

    A couple of quotes from Mr. Sterling:

    “The other part of the legislation I read that is troubling is a clause in here that says, if there is amendment after the plan is put down, the total area can’t reduce in size. When you’re painting such a wide swath of land, quite frankly, the loss of a couple of thousand hectares is not that significant.” – Nov. 16, 2004

    “I really feel this Greenbelt legislation is insensitive to the public in terms of their ability to challenge whatever ‘science’ may be put forward here, or not….This is a failed policy in this government at this time.” – Feb. 25, 2005