A broad survey by Environmental Defence of candidates competing in the fast-growing edge cities around Toronto shows wide support for progressive initiatives such as expanding and strengthening the Greenbelt.

But the data on nine issues assembled by the environmental group also reveals a major difference between incumbents and their rivals: While 54 per cent of the GTA and Simcoe County challengers responded, only 45 per cent of incumbents did.

Candidates who did respond showed strong support for green initiatives — almost 95 per cent supported building up the Greenbelt, for example.

But overall support plummeted to just 66 per cent on the question of election finance reform.

Who donates to election campaigns becomes an environmental question when much of the money comes from people who have a stake in environmental decisions, such as developers.

It’s perhaps revealing that the lowest rate of response to the survey came from high-growth municipalities such as Vaughan, Halton Hills, Brampton and Milton, where development is “leapfrogging” the protected Greenbelt.

Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence, said he was encouraged that the survey showed there is “support for green initiatives and actions that will benefit the quality of life,” such as intensified building and transit. torstar news service

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