Former Niagara Regional Chair To Be Honoured With Ontario Greenbelt Award

Debbie Zimmerman To Receive Award This March 2018 At Queen’s Park

A News Brief by Doug Draper

Posted February 8th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Debbie Zimmerman, a former chair of Niagara’s regional council who also once served as a regional council representative for Grimsby and continues to serve as CEO for the Grape Growers of Ontario, will be among five other Ontario citizens this March to receive a 2017 Friend of the Greenbelt Award at Queen’s Park,

Former Niagara regional chair Debbie Zimmerman speaking recently at a public meeting hosted by a group called A Better Niagara, which is working for positive change in the make-up of municipal government in Niagara this coming October’s municipal elections. Photo by Emily Beth

The award will be presented to Zimmerman and the others, including former Toronto mayor David Crombie, Keith Currie, Rae Horst, John MacKenzie and Leith Moore, on behalf of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation by Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell for their work as the Advisory Panel for the province’s 2015 Coordinated Land Use Planning Review.

“The Panel’s historic work was critical to enhancing the protection of the Greenbelt as well as growing the Greenbelt to protect urban river valleys and coastal wetlands,” said Edward McDonnell, the Greenbelt Foundation’s CEO in a recently circulated statement about the upcoming award presentations.

“The Panel’s report,”  McDonnel continued, “has helped to protect Ontario’s future by defining plans to manage growth, protect and enhance greenspace, protect watersheds, and focus on climate change, while helping ensure agricultural and rural vitality.

Zimmerman, who served as Niagara Region’s chair from 1997 to 2003 and continued to represent Grimsby on the regional council until she left elected politics in 2014, has been an ongoing advocate for efforts to build a regional transit system and curb low density urban sprawl into Niagara’s countryside.

In one interview she did with Niagara At Large more two years ago when the Advisory Panel’s report was tabled, Zimmerman  stressed that “it is time for Niagara’s local municipalities and regional government to get their act together on public transit.”

Debbie Zimmerman. Photo by Emily Beth

The need for a full-fledged regional transit system was raised again by Zimmerman as recently as this January when, as a member of Niagara Women in Politics, a group dedicated to encouraging more women to run for public office, she spoke at a public meeting in St. Catharines hosted by A Better Niagara, another non-partisan citizens group working for positive change in this coming October’s municipal elections.

Ontario’s Greenbelt totals more than a million acres of rural lands, including much of what is left of the best grape and tender fruit growing lands in the province, in Niagara and around Lake Ontario in the Hamilton and Greater Toronto areas.

Zimmerman and the other Advisory Panel members will receive the Greenbelt Award on Tuesday, March 20th in the Lieutenant Governor’s Suite at Queen’s Park.

To learn more about the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and its work to protect more than a million acres of green lands in and around the Niagara, Hamilton and Toronto areas, click on – .

To read a piece posted in Niagara At Large when the Ontario advisory panel Debbie Zimmerman tabbled its report in 2015, click on – .

To read the executive summary of the advisory panel’s report click on – .

To download the full report with a warning that it may take time for your computer to cope with the size of it, you can click on

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders


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