Because this objective was focused on how the Greenbelt Plan, Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP) and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP) interact, it was necessary to apply a common scale for the purpose of ranking these plans in a hierarchal order. It was also necessary that each plan was studied separately, with the policies being divided into groups. These groupings were paired based on how each plan was governed and how important each policy was to its plan’s overall objective, and the overall protection of the Greenbelt.
The Greenbelt Plan works in conjunction with other provincial, federal and agency plans (Greenbelt Plan, 2017). Because of this the plan(s) where higher restrictive regulations occur took precedence over the Greenbelt Plan (Greenbelt Plan, 2017). For example, where there were areas of overlap between the Greenbelt Plan and the NEP or ORMCP, the policies in either the NEP or ORMCP acted as superior to the Greenbelt Plan because of this hierarchy. The policies in the Greenbelt Plan and how they interact with each other was another area that was addressed. The main overall objective of the Greenbelt is to protect the existing environment within its boundaries from urban expansion. Therefore, within the six policies, the Greenbelt Plan contains, the policies with most restriction regarding urban development were given priority.
The main purpose of the NEP is to maintain the Niagara Escarpment and the land within its boundaries as a ‘natural environment’ while allowing for development in such a way that does not result in negative impacts towards that ‘natural environment’ (Niagara Escarpment Plan, 2017). The NEP does not aim to reduce the capability of municipal official plans, secondary plans or by-law to set policies that may increase the restrictions of the NEP (Niagara Escarpment Plan, 2017). However, if these policies clash with the NEP, the governing body can choose to reject them (Niagara Escarpment Plan, 2017). Like the Greenbelt Plan, the NEP has seven policies that aim to protect the Niagara Escarpments ‘natural environment’. Therefore, the policies with the most restrictions regarding urban development were given priority.
The ORMCP is an ecological and hydrological-based plan (Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, 2002). The purpose of this plan is to protect the 1900 km2 of both land and water within the moraine. (Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, 2002). Like the NEP, this plan does not try to limit municipal official and by-law plans that may increase the restrictions of the ORMCP policies (Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, 2002). However, if such plans reduce the integrity of the ORMCP polices, the municipal and by-law plans will be forced to conform to the ORMCP polices (Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, 2002). With regards to how the polices interact with themselves, it was similar to both the Greenbelt and the NEP, the policies with the most restrictions regarding environment protection were given more influence.