Wynne says Liberals would expand Greenbelt if re-elected this spring

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says that if re-elected this spring, her Liberal government will expand the Greenbelt, a stretch of protected land whose future has been a political hot potato roughly a week before the province's election campaign gets underway.

Wynne pledged to extend the Greenbelt into ecologically sensitive areas such as the Orangeville and Oro moraines and the Nottawasaga River corridor, saying the areas have already been put to community consultation.

She made the announcement a day after Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford backtracked on an election promise to allow housing development in the region, a plan that first came to light in an online video unearthed by the Liberals.

After defending his proposal Monday, Ford said Tuesday that he changed course after consulting with Ontario residents and would listen to those who want the area preserved.

The Liberals, meanwhile, have accused Ford of making backroom deals with developers and said he can't be trusted to preserve protected lands.

The Greenbelt _ the world's largest permanently protected green space _is a 7,200-square-kilometre area that borders the Greater Golden Horseshoe region around Lake Ontario. It was protected from urban development by legislation in 2005.