Dr. John Bacher writes: Retired Provincial Planner Victor Doyle Wins Victory at Crucial Time

November 13, 2018

An important article for several Simcoe County issues.

JohnBacherPhD.ca
November 12, 2019

Retired Provincial Planner Victor Doyle Wins Victory at Crucial Time
Dr. John Bacher

At a crucial time when the land use planning policies he forged under three different parties over 25 years are under attack by the newly elected government of Premier Doug Ford, veteran land use planner Victor Doyle won a major victory. It is of great significance which may help in reversing a planned assault on Sothern fragile ecosystems. They are imperilled from a proposed loosening of land use planning regulations. This threat was announced with great fanfare at a November 8, 2018 meeting at Toronto’s MacDonald block, which was supposedly on the Ontario Growth Plan.

On October 27th, 2018, the Public Service Grievance Board of Ontario, ruled in Doyle’s favour in response to a grievance he had filed with it in response to his dramatic demotion. Doyle went from effectively directing land use planning in Ontario to studying the cars of the distant future. The Grievance Board ruled that that this action by the provincial government was a breach of “duty of procedural fairness.”

Doyle spoke out to the Globe and Mail in May 2017, when the Cabinet, responding to what Doyle found were inaccurate claims by developers, was debating land use policy changes. Developers’ apologists claimed that the province’s policies were creating a residential land shortage and driving up housing prices. Such rhetoric, although at odds with reality, was building up pressure to gut land use planning controls. Doyle responded using a barrage of well documented facts to show there was a massive oversupply of such lands. He warned the province to appease developers was risking “unsustainable sprawl, congestion and skyrocketing infrastructure costs.”

Although in the end the Cabinet did not back down, Doyle was punished for speaking out. He was sealed away in a manner to reduce his influence on the public service. Doyle was put alone on a floor in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) Bay Street building. He was denied access to normal digital information sources available to public servants. No other Ministry employees were given offices on his floor. Several months before his scheduled retirement he was told to confine his duties to research driverless cars.

Part of Doyle’s effectiveness is that he would work closely with respected native elders, notably the Mohawk of the Turtle Clan, Danny Beaton, with whom he met in a Toronto gym. Beaton gave him sacred teachings on natural law, such as the need to respect water from the abuses of the earth. One such meeting followed Beaton’s shocking encounter with a cruel slashing of an old growth forest at French’s Hill/Waverley Uplands.

Mohawk Elder Danny Beaton: the scale of the original maples at Waverley Uplands, Apr 2015.

The French’s Hill Forest of great Sugar Maples is on top of an aquifer which contains the world’s purest water. Following Beaton’s traumatic encounter with destruction, Doyle lectured Simcoe County officials over their dangerous contempt for the sacredness of the natural world.

Working with Beaton, Doyle emerged as the guardian of what the Mohawk elder called the Peacemaker’s World. Doyle stood up to powerful corporations such as the Geranium, with its plans to dangerously ring the Minesing Wetlands with 10,000 new homes in Midhurst. This threatens to unleash a flood of polluted storm water onto a wetland which is a refuge for rare wild species. These include Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly, the Sturgeon, the Trumpeter Swan, Sandhill Crane, Bald Eagle, and several turtle species, now all designated as species at risk.

Doyle’s warnings of an assault on threatened wildlife from sprawl are especially relevant in the context of the supposed consultation now underway on the Growth Plan. At the MacDonald Block Forum a disturbing proposal was made by developers’ agents. This was that a large area of Class One and Two farmland between the Green Belt and the urban zoning boundary of Greater Toronto have a change in designation. All references to agricultural value would be swept away and the area designated under the Growth Plan as an “Urban Reserve.”

Doyle’s warnings to the press sounded an alarm against the proposed rapid urbanization of what planners call the White Belt. Doyle warned that water quality in streams in this area was at risk of contamination which would kill wildlife such as fish, turtles and frogs.

What makes Doyle’s courage in standing up so heartening today is the way the October 8th Macdonald Block Forum was packaged. The facilitator appeared to be the auctioneer at a fire sale of land use planning policies, rather than part of the public service. She indicated that all of the facilitators were members of the Ontario Public Service, OPS. There were at least 23 such OPS facilitators in the Room, since my own designated Table was Number 23.


(l) Author Dr. John Bacher and Mohawk Elder Danny Beaton at Waverley Uplands clear-cut. Sept 2015.

Considering the ecocidal reputation of Sir John A. MacDonald it was appropriate that the Growth Plan consultation should be held in government building named for him. The worst of the formal government proposals actually had nothing to do with the Growth Plan. They have to do with the proposed abolition of the requirement in the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) under the Planning Act that urban boundary expansions only be permitted every five years under a comprehensive municipal review.

The whole premise of the MacDonald Block circus was residential land shortages which Doyle’s writings carefully denied. The ten- second pleas to the Minister of MMAH had little to do with the Growth Plan. One plea was to abolish the Niagara Escarpment Commission, a backbone of the Greenbelt. Another was to abolish the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal. Thrown into the toxic mess was a call to have wetland offsetting, opening up for destruction some of the most important habitats for vanishing wildlife species in southern Ontario.

The backward thinking of the MacDonald Block Growth Plan Forum coming from a building named after a Prime Minister who arrested and hanged Cree chiefs and elders should be a warning signal to those in the OPS who care about ecosystems and wildlife threatened by sprawl. Let us hope that more follow Doyle’s path and work with native spiritual leaders and speak out in defense of Mother Earth.

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Sunday November 11: Remembrance Day at Springwater Park, by AWARE SIMCOE

November 7, 2018

By Aware SIMCOE and Ontario Parks.

Ontario Parks is honoured to have this WW1 cenotaph in Springwater.

Originally erected in honour of “The Vespra Boys” from Vespra Township who sacrificed so much in the First World War.

Springwater Park was the location of Remembrance Day ceremonies from the 1920’s to the 1950’s.

In 2012 community volunteer groups came forward in a significant way.

Wayne Cameron organized the first Remembrance Day ceremony in the park in over 50 years and continues to do so annually.

Remembrance Day Ceremony – All Welcome!

Sunday – November 11

This year is the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and signing of the Armistice on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour.

Springwater Provincial Park provides the most peaceful, serene, and natural backdrop for a solemn ceremony of this kind.

No parking admission required.

Assembling at 10:00 a.m.

We welcome veterans and community groups or individuals to join us as we honour the Springwater Park Cenotaph for the Vespra Boys.

Please contact MC Wayne Cameron at 416-948-5637 or wl.cameron@sympatico.ca if you would like to play a role in the day.


The latest rumour of Barrie’s “friendly” annexation of Midhurst and other northern lands.

May 19, 2018

This history of Barrie is gobbling up their neighbours’ land. Please see this map from 1881.

Courtesy of the Simcoe County Archives.

Barrie’s reputation for fiscal mismanagement and sprawl is equally well-known across the province.

Courtesy of the Simcoe County Archives.

Map of the former Vespra Township, around 1922.

See the green area? Barrie will take all of it except the area west of George Johnston Road: west from Highway 90 to Horseshoe Valley Road (Simcoe County Road 22).

Courtesy of the Simcoe County Archives.

See the orange area? Barrie will take all of it except the area west of George Johnston Road: west from Highway 90 to Horseshoe Valley Road (Simcoe County Road 22).

Barrie was and is a near-northern lumber town.

Midhurst was primarily a farming community.

 


Canada’s Catholic community has an enormous role to play in the work of reconciliation. Apologies matter, says Charlie Angus.

April 19, 2018

Charlie Angus is the NDP MP for Timmins—James Bay.

 

The Toronto Star
April 14, 2018

Pope should apologize for Catholic church’s role in residential school system
“All but one of the Christian denominations involved in the crimes of the residential schools have taken part in the process of reparations and reconciliation. Yet the Catholic Church, which played the largest role in this evil system, has been the most recalcitrant when it comes to repentance,” writes Charlie Angus.
Opinion

Pope Francis should apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system, writes Charlie Angus. (ANDREW MEDICHINI / AP)

Apologies matter. I was taught this from my earliest years in Catholic schools and from the pulpit. The power of the apology is so central to the notion of healing and reconciliation in the Catholic tradition that it is given sacramental form in the rites of confession and penance.

It was Jesuit priests who taught me that the acts of apology and forgiveness cannot simply be personal. They must be systemic. This is how we make a broken world whole. The Church has a vital role to play by being rooted in justice through solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed.

And so I was shocked by the comments of Pope Francis — the first Jesuit Pope — that he is unwilling to make a public apology for the Church’s role in the horrors of the residential school system. The call for a formal apology from the Pope is one of the key calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report. And yet, following discussions with the Canadian bishops, Pope Francis has said that the Church is not ready to take this step.

All but one of the Christian denominations involved in the crimes of the residential schools have taken part in the process of reparations and reconciliation. Yet the Catholic Church, which played the largest role in this evil system, has been the most recalcitrant when it comes to repentance.

In 2015, the Catholic bishops used a legal loophole to walk away from their legal obligation to pay $25 million in compensation to support survivors of horrific physical and sexual abuse in Church-run schools. The various Catholic orders involved in this abuse have also proved to be unwilling partners for reconciliation when it comes to turning over documents and evidence relating to the crimes committed in these institutions. Traditionally, it is a country’s bishops — in Canada, assembled in the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops — who must undertake the process of inviting the Pope to apologize on behalf of the Church. They have decided against this.

I have enormous faith in Pope Francis’ vision of a church that is actively engaged in the work of justice and healing. There are numerous precedents, such as when the Church apologized for systemic child abuse in Ireland, Pope Francis’ apology to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, and the apology for the Church’s role in the stolen generation of Indigenous children in Australia. So why are Canadian bishops refusing to take this step in Canada?

In this coming week, my colleague Romeo Saganash will introduce a parliamentary motion calling on the Catholic bishops to recognize their obligation to begin the process for a formal papal apology.

Having Parliament publicly call on the bishops is not a step we take lightly. There is no legal lever to compel them to act. Some have pointed out that there is a longstanding tradition of the separation church and state in Canadian political life. That may be, but it was the deliberate blurring of church and state interests that allowed criminal actions in schools like St. Anne’s Indian Residential School in Fort Albany, Ont., to be carried out for decades.

Parliament needs to make itself heard because there is a moral urgency to the issue of reconciliation. There is no moving forward as a nation until all the parties to the brutalities of the residential schools come forward in a spirit of contrition and awareness for the damage done.

One of my proudest moments as a parliamentarian and Canadian was hearing Prime Minister Stephen Harper make Canada’s official apology for the horrors of the residential school system. I talked to survivors in my region following that apology and one couple told me they wept for days because they never dreamed that anyone would stand up and take responsibility for the crimes committed against them at St. Anne’s.

Canada’s Catholic community has an enormous role to play in the work of reconciliation. The Church in Canada has a long and proud tradition of justice and service. It is time for the bishops to step forward and do what we were all taught to do in Catholic schools from a young age: to apologize, and to promise an appropriate penance to restore what has been broken. Apologies matter.

Charlie Angus is the NDP MP for Timmins—James Bay.

Link to the article.


Danny Beaton is now focused on protecting the Nottawasaga River and the Minesing Wetlands from the polluted storm water that is set to flow from the Midhurst Secondary Plan.

February 5, 2018

Danny Beaton, Dr. John Bacher on Simcoe County’s inevitable Greenbelt.

First Nations Drum
January 2018

For Danny Beaton, Greenbelt celebrates Mother Earth
Dr. John Bacher (PhD)

Harold and Ann Boker and Danny in Art Parnel’s clover field, Simcoe County
Photo Courtesy of J.E. Simpson, 2009

In Memory of Alicja Rozanska

Now in a ponderous and tentative way the Ontario government is engaged in a consultation to expand the Greenbelt into the sacred heartland of Huronia. It is the core of the civilization that produced the prophetic figure, the Peacemaker.

Technocratic words about wetlands, cold temperature water, moraines, aquifers, base flow and the key indicator species, the Brook Trout are the language of the long overdue exercise to expand the Greenbelt. They have little resonance however, compared to those expressed by Danny Beaton’s, passion for Mother Earth.

In contrast to official jargon, Beaton explains that, “under the Nanfan Treaty the Mohawk nation has the Right to water and wood from Six Nations to Georgian Bay as long as the grass grows and the sun shines…therefore as a Mohawk man I have a right to protect our sacred waters, sacred farm land and our spiritual animals.”

Beaton, a Mohawk of the Turtle Clan, took his great stand in the defense of Mother Earth in the campaign to defend the world’s purest source of drinking water. It was located near Elmvale, where the greatest settlement of the people of the Peacemaker was located.

Beaton has termed The Peacemaker’s World, “The Healing Place.” He finds its “probably one of the most beautiful places that I have been to in my entire life. The waters are everywhere. The forests are everywhere. We pick the berries.” Here he eats the fish and gathers cedar on a regular basis.

There was a 22 year struggle that sought to protect the world’s cleanest water from becoming a garbage Dump. It was called based on an engineering report, Dump Site 41. Beaton played a major role in stopping the dump from receiving garbage.

Beaton first organized an eight day walk from where Dump Site 41 would be built to Queen’s Park. It was called The Walk for Water. He saw the trek as bringing “attention to the Sacred Waters of the Alliston Aquifer and the tributaries that run into Georgian Bay.”

Following the Walk Water Beaton organized an occupation of the site. It blockaded excavation machines from digging up the Sacred Mother Earth of the Peacemaker’s World.

What made Beaton’s passion so powerful is that he knew how to be arrested with dignity and power. It was a majestic dignity that the Peacemaker’s words of “Peace, Power and Righteousness” resounded from the ancient times from of his ancestors.

Beaton was arrested on the blockade line by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers. At the time of his arrest he was submitting his photographs of the struggle to First Nations Drum and News From Indian Country. At the time he was using an upright log for his desk and sitting on a lawn chair. After being put into handcuffs he was taken to the OPP Midland Detachment Center.

Beaton distinguished himself by refusing to sign a release form. By doing so he would have pledged never to enter the dump site again. He later explained how, “I felt someone had to show the world that
this was all crazy”.

Beaton told the Justice of the Peace at his trial that “somebody had to stop the rape of Mother Earth.” At this point, he later recalled, “I felt like crying because of all the chaos that was happening but no justice for Mother Earth.”

In refusing to sign the form Beaton’s words were simple but eloquent. He told reporters, “Who Will Speak to the Water?” These were his last words to the press before spending three days in prison, before his bail hearing.

Beaton’s words of the need to speak for the water came at the right time to stop Dump Site 41. This is because when he went to prison the nonviolent struggle of peaceful resistance to save the world’s purest water had taken on the form of a great scientific experiment. It exposed the lies of the engineering professionals that had been used to deceive the voting public of Simcoe County.

When the resisters held the line against the bulldozers the water that flowed out of the Dump Site 41 site remained pure. As soon as the blockade was breached by the force of the OPP the water that flowed out became dirty.

The stain on the water became a dirty mark upon the politicians who backed Dump Site 41. If so much damage could be caused by simply digging a pit, what people reasoned, would be caused by dumping garbage into it?

During Beaton’s three days in prison where his biggest complaint was the impurity of the water, an outraged public opinion caused everything to change. Incensed citizens mobilized and phoned their councilors, denouncing them for believing the lies of the engineers.

When Beaton arrived in the Barrie Simcoe County court house, everything had changed. He was released in the knowledge that work on Dump Site 41 had been halted.

The excavations were healed by restorative work. Eventually easements were put on the land by the Ontario Farmland Trust, to ensure that this prime Class One soil would remain in agricultural use forever.

Beaton a few years later came to the rescue to another threat to the cold pure waters that feed the cold water trout streams that flow into lower Georgian Bay. This new threat was termed the Dufferin County mega quarry.

Much like Dump Site 41 before Beaton’s involvement, opponents of a mega mile quarry on Canada’s best potato growing land had been getting nowhere. Farm houses and buildings were burned down. Their debris clogged local dumps. Forests were clear cut in violation of tree protection by laws. Fence rows were ripped up.

Beaton met with the organizers of opposition in a corporate law office on Bay Street. He told them, literally, to “Take a Hike.”

By suggesting they take a hike Beaton meant they should follow the example the stopped Dump Site 41. He called for a procession from Queen’s Park, the seat of political power which could kill the Mega Quarry, to the site of the proposed giant pit. The march was held and captured the public’s imagination. This sparked by death of the scheme through the unusual imposition of an Environmental Assessment.

After the end of the five day trek Beaton and I were led by one of the organizers Smiling Yogi to a place where he promised we would appreciated what the hike was all about. He took us to one of the magnificent cold water streams of Huronia.

Yogi took us to a White Cedar Brook Trout stream which is an important tributary for the cold water Nottawasaga River flowing into Georgian Bay. Here Brook Trout leaped through its sparkling fast running waters, laced with riffles, runs and pools. It was lined with verdant green watercress.

Beaton is now focused on protecting the Nottawasaga River and the Minesing Wetlands from the polluted storm water that is set to flow from urban expansion in Midhurst. His passion for Mother Earth gives substance to the call of the public consultation document for the expansion of the Greenbelt in Huronia called appropriately, “Protecting Water.” The document exposes how urban sprawl is a threat to the wetlands and trout streams that nourish Georgian Bay. But he expresses it was through the wisdom of native people who see sacred waters as Mother Earth’s blood.

Click here for a pdf copy of the article.


“We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population.”

January 30, 2018

January 27th honours the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles of racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it.

Martin Luther King Jr.

From a Truthdig article written by Sarah Sunshine Manning called Remember the Bear River Massacre, Climax of the American Holocaust


Growing the Greenbelt into Simcoe County — Barrie consultation meeting, Jan 31st

January 10, 2018

You might consider showing up.

Becky Big Canoe of Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation

Here is list of dates, locations and venues for the consultation meetings. Please pass it along.

January 25 – Stakeholder Meeting
Toronto
MORN (9:30 -11:30 am)
Ramada Plaza

January 31- Open House
Barrie
5:30-8:00pm
Southshore Community Centre

February 6 – Open House
Guelph
5:30-8:00pm
Italian Canadian Club

February 8 – Open House
Orangeville
5:30-8:00pm
Tony Rose Memorial Sports Centre

February 15 – Open House
Alliston
5:30-8:00pm
Alliston Memorial Arena
February 20 – Open House

Brantford
6:00-8:30pm
Branlyn Community Centre

February 22 – Open House
Kitchener
5:30-8:00pm
Tannery Event Centre


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