Did the Midhurst Secondary Plan sprawl development overrule Ontario’s own endangered species law?

November 27, 2015

Why didn’t the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry apply its own laws and protect the Minesing wetlands habitat for this at-risk species?

eco small

Will Ontario continue to only listen to mega-sprawl developers?

An important article by Sara Carson at the Barrie Advance (not online), Rare dragonfly in Minesing wetlands declared at-risk speciespdf

An endangered dragonfly could lose its only known Canadian habitat if development takes place atop the Snow Valley ski hill, says Ellen Schwartzel, acting Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO).

And she blames the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for not doing enough to protect the Hine’s emerald dragonfly and its habitat in the Minesing wetlands.

“That was a very good example of where the science says this is what’s needed and where the ministry stopped short of protecting that habitat,” Schwartzel said.

20151127 Hines

This Hine’s emerald dragonfly was spotted close to the Minesing Wetlands at North Simcoe Railtrail near Sunnidale Road. CHRIS EVANS

The ECO’s annual report released Nov. 3 and titled Small Things Matter, used the Hine’s emerald as one example of the province not following a species’ recovery strategy, prepared under the Endangered Species Act.

“The province has had the opportunity to show some on the ground successes for the Endangered Species Act, they haven’t yet done that. And that’s disappointing,” Schwartzel said.

The Hine’s emerald recovery strategy, created in 2013, recommends its protected habitat include the Snow Valley Uplands because its groundwater feeds the entire wetland. Schwartzel is calling on the ministry to take recommendations in the recovery strategy seriously because the area is under development pressure.

“Given the specificity of this recommendation in the recovery strategy, and with no explanation of the ministry’s decisions provided, the ECO concludes that the MNRF opted to favour development, rather than to prioritize the protection of this species at risk habitat,” the ECO’s annual report states.

The habitat regulation for Hine’s emerald includes a 500-metre area around the habitat used by the species. Ministry spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski said this area protects the flow of groundwater into the wetlands, and aquatic areas used by the species. But, she added, this does not mean development outside the habitat won’t require provincial approval.

“If activities outside this area are likely to have an adverse effect on the habitat, they may still require authorization under the Endangered Species Act to consider the needs of the species,” she said.

Kowalski added the recovery strategy is one source of information used to develop habitat regulations.

“Biological consideration of the species, community knowledge, socio-economics, and public input contribute to best available information by which habitat regulations are ultimately determined,” she said.

Chris Evans said it’s unknown what level of human disturbance this dragonfly can tolerate. BRERETON FIELD NATURALISTS’ CLUB PHOTO

Chris Evans, president of the Brereton Field Naturalists’ Club, discovered the Hine’s emerald here in 20074. It is also found in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Missouri. He said it’s unknown what level of human disturbance this dragonfly can tolerate.

“Perhaps its extirpation from other areas of Ontario indicates that we are damaging our aquifers and water supplies in ways we do not yet understand. Why not identify and protect all known and potential Hine’s emerald habitats from human development until we know the safe limits of our impacts?” he said.

Water levels are very important to the Hine’s emerald because these dragonflies reproduce and live as larvae in crayfish burrows that are very sensitive to disturbance, said local naturalist Bob Bowles. He takes part in the annual dragonfly count in the Minesing wetlands.

“Any development of the area would impact greatly on the Hine’s emerald,” Bowles said.

To read the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s report visit: http://eco.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/2014_2015-AR.pdf

To learn more about the Hine’s Emerald and to see its recovery strategy, visit ontario.ca/page/hines-emerald.


Save French’s Hill Forest article by Dr. John Bacher and Danny Beaton

October 1, 2015

Is a Waverley Mega Quarry in Tiny Township, Simcoe County worth this threat to the Alliston Aquifer…again?

20150926 321

An original article from Dr. John Bacher:

Save French’s Hill Forest

Tiny Township is blessed to have some of the rarest and largest old growth forests in southern Ontario south of the Canadian Shield, an ecosystem known as the Mixed Woods Plains. It is tragic that one of the best examples of this precious and threatened relic of Turtle Island before the impact of Euro-Canadian colonization, is now threatened by a proposed zoning amendment. It would change the zoning of lands now protected as Rural and Agricultural and designated as Significant Forest by Tiny Township, to permit the expansion of the existing Beamish quarry.

In addition to devastating forests the Beamish quarry expansion proposal is an attack on the world’s purest water, the same important source for the Alliston Aquifer that was battled over in the long struggle against Dump Site 41. Elaine Stephenson a champion of the French’s Hill Forest, has explained how she appreciated from childhood how the purity of her well water from this unusual geological feature. On this basis the quarry scheme was denounced by a leading foe of Dump Site 41, Stephen Odgen, at a October 13, 2009 meeting of the Tiny Township Council.

Part of the opposition that the Beamish scheme encountered when it was put forward at two meeting of Tiny Township Council in the winter of 2015 was that the pit proposal should not go forward until the work of he Severn Sound Environmental Association on the natural heritage of Tiny Township is properly reflected in its land use planning and zoning documents. This is an excellent critique since current land use planning both in Tiny Township and throughout Simcoe County does not make the best use of scientific studies of wildlife habitat, forest cover and old growth.

The critique of residents who have mobilized themselves into a Save the Waverly Uplands alliance is bolstered by the background environmental research that has been done into the provincially significant woodlands that surround the existing Beamish quarry. The work of the Severn Sound group builds on an earlier study, which in a tragically slow way, is shaping environmental planning in Simcoe County. This is report on “The Development of a Natural Heritage System for Simcoe County.” It was prepared by the Gartner Lee engineering firm for the Simcoe County Council in 1996.

The Gartner Lee report, now almost two decades old, provides a reasonable way in which to protect Simcoe County’s forests. It called for the protection of large blocks of forests of around 40 hectares in size, which is responsible for the current mapping of French’s Hill as a provincially significant woodland. Such woodlands straddle both sides of the border between Tiny and Tay townships.

The slowness in the adaption of the Garner Lee report into the Simcoe County official plan is one of the reasons the municipality has been ridiculed by the respected Neptis Foundation as the “Wild West” of urban sprawl.

The Gartner Lee study recognizes that, “The extensive tracts of forests” that are found in Tiny Township “are important habitat for a number of forest interior species as well as for mammals such as Black Bear, Martin and Fisher which have large home ranges.”

The Gartner Lee report recognizes the value of the large tracts of forests that endure in Tiny Township that are old growth as surrounds the Beamish quarry. It expressed amazement that here there are still “vast tracts of forest” in predominately hardwood old growth conditions. They are it stressed, a vivid contrast to the coniferous plantations established in other parts of Simcoe County to rescue it from desertification.

The old growth forests of Tiny Township Garner Lee stressed “represent the last vestiges of what southern-Ontario looked like in pre-settlement times. Unlike much of southern Ontario, where the original woodlands have become highly fragmented” these forest remain in “unbroken forest blocks.” Such conditions it found are important for wildlife as “refuges from predation” for “foraging habitat” and to secure “diversity in the landscape.”

The insights of the Gartner Lee report in protecting the old growth forests of southern Ontario are reflected in the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Natural Heritage Manual. They stress that old growth forests “are particularly valuable for several reasons, including their contributions of species genetics and ecosystem diversity.” One obvious example of this is that their survival allow winds and birds to transfer native hardwood species to managed plantation forests.

The MNR manual provides a careful definition of what constitutes an old growth forest. This is done through hitting any of three measures, age (around 100 years), basal area or diameter width. One basic approach is 10 or more trees at least 50 cm in diameter per hectare, or 8 trees of the same area of 40 cm.

When I saw tree cutting recently at French’s Hill I was horrified to see an old growth forest slashed for no apparent reason than to downgrade its rating in the MNR manual. The forest was of predominately giant sugar maples, regenerating in a healthy fashion with a blanket of seedlings. However, the quite recently stumps seemed to offer proofs that many giants had been cut with the deliberate purpose of reducing the density per hectare required to be considered an old growth forest.

Danny Beaton a Mohawk of the Turtle Clan has viewed the destruction of the French’s Hill Forest. On it he notes, that “The Nanfan Treaty states that the Iroquois Confederacy have a right to hunt and fish on our shared territories with the Ojibway, Huron and Wendat Nations in Georgian Bay. Why do corporations continuing to rape and pillage our forests, wetlands and water ways in Georgian Bay? Why do company’s continue to stake claim to the last endangered trees and forests with immunity from County of Simcoe Governance.? Why are citizens being ignored in county meetings that are set up for citizen participation and shared authority over land rights and development.? Are the lawyers, architects and engineers who support developers, the real threat to Mother Earth? Through unity and focus then can we organize our self for change and environmental protection through peaceful building and organizing our self. During Site 41 a unity of citizens, farmers and Torontonians emerged to defend and protect the Alliston Aquifer. Then the mega quarry was denounced by citizens, farmers, and native and good lawyers. We as citizens of Ontario must unite with the Conservation Authority, Environmental Organizations, Farmers, Native Nations and Good Minds with Good Hearted People before everything is cut down or polluted. Mother Earth is being raped on the French Hill in Waverly. The developer will say he bought the land which is old growth Sugar Maples and other hard wood trees so that all should be clear cut for a quarry As a Mohawk man with grade 6 education I can tell you from our Traditional Culture no one has the right to destroy this large unique incredibly beautiful healing place full of creation for our children’s children.”
20150926 470
Posted on JohnBacherPhD.ca and iLoveMidhurst.ca.

Previous posts on the Waverley Mega Quarry;


How much cash does a corporation get when they cut down old-growth maple trees in Simcoe County?

September 30, 2015

Immediately and in preparation for a clear-cut (gravel pit expansion)?

20150425 Bleeding tree ...

Surely the net proceeds are less if you cut them down in the middle of the night?

Waverley Clearcut 3

Maybe higher In the middle of the 2015 winter (April 2015: Photos by Les Stewart)?

20150926 450

I wonder if it was a licensed or non-licensed action against the old-growth maple canopy (September 2015, same)?

P1090554

Or thinning to show the “watchdog” authorities that the forest was worth less (worthless or degraded) and, therefore, should get the go ahead to clear-cut for aggregate expansion on top of the Alliston aquifer.

P1100381

See previous post on iLoveMidhurst.ca: A 600 acre Waverley Mega Quarry in the making?

Waverley Mega-Quarry


Self-interest: A good enough reason to bring and use a 2 metre dog leash at Springwater Park?

April 1, 2015

Everyone’s very happy that Kona was found last week. Many thanks to those that helped out.

Found

But 2 to 3 nights of sleepless nights as your lost puppy fends for himself in the wild?

coywolf

See coyote + wolf = coywolf.

Found and leash

Nobody wants to lose a loved family member to a four- or two-legged predator.

Found leash large

The signs are there for very sound reasons.

Dog

For everyone’s sake, to sleep soundly with your pooch, please leash fido securely.

It’s the fair thing to do.


“If I had a $100-million”, I’d buy Springwater Township to save the Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly & Friends.

April 23, 2014

How much is  the destruction of the natural heritage of a several thousand year old rural “community of communities” worth?

I’d buy you a Minesing Wetlands.

Hines entertain3

 

Click here for the complete, sublime deputation presentation Mr. Chris Evans made by to Springwater Township on April 22, 2014.

Posted on iLoveMidhurst and voteLesStewart.ca.


Premier Kathleen Wynne suggests native education centre at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi is reasonable.

August 10, 2013

The need for sustainability is essential, but Premier Wynne wants the door kept open for Camp Nibi land use.

Kathleen Wynne2


Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne sat down with the Examiner’s Cheryl Browne during her visit to our region, Friday. MARK WANZEL PHOTO

A very good article from The Barrie Examiner’s Cheryl Browne, Premier sheds light on issues during Barrie visitpdf download

A summary of important local concerns (agri-food, Local Food Act, growth), and then for the last part, Springwater Provincial Park. The Premier’s brief speech later in the evening’s BBQ,  focused on education, youth unemployment and infrastructure. Her Grade 4 teacher even showed up for support!

Excerpt:

Just to the north of Barrie, Wynne said she’s been kept abreast of the current occupation of Springwater Provincial Park by the Beausoleil Island First Nations women.

The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) changed the park’s status to non-operational at the end of March and moved almost 30 once-orphaned animals to other sanctuaries around the county. Several First Nation women have been camping in the park since April 1 and Wynne said she has heard of their hopes for a native education centre at the park.

“I don’t think it’s unrealistic. I think it’s a matter of how we would do that, where the funding would come from and it would be sustainable. I don’t think its an unrealistic suggestion, as long as those other factors can be put in place.”

Welcomed news for all past, present and future lovers of the park lands.

Cross-posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca.


Midhurst 1 Boy Scouts, Springwater Park and the Vespra Boys cenotaph

August 2, 2013

I was there at the cenotaph on several Remembrance Days as a boy.

1st Midurst

I was there because of Bob and Ruth Byers.

Excerpt:

Springwater News
Fall 2012

Remembering Springwater Park
Heritage Matters
Ruth Byers

Springwater Park will be no longer be a provincial park by spring.

This sad news for the thousands of our township residents, and generations of families, who have enjoyed this park, and still do.

And the memories:
…the days when there was no charge to enter the park. Local kids just biked in, spent some carefree summer holiday time, and biked home, tired but happy.

…the picnics, school picnics, church picnics, family picnics, picnics for social groups, ball teams, and companies. And picnics for just two, holding hands, enjoying summer afternoon, then coming back years later with their kids.

…the animals and birds, staring at the owl as it stared back, waiting for the peacock to open his tail, watching the busy beavers doing their thing, while the majestic swans glided across the pond.

…marvelling at the engineering of the waterways through dams and sluices and climbing the stairs through the miniature village.

…buying a treat at the refreshment booth run by Miss Wattie.

…attending Remembrance Day services at the war memorial as a kid, and years later coming with the cub pack and scout troop.

…school trips. I first visited the park in 1949 when a student at Cundles School. I last attended the park on a school trip in 1971 when I was a parent volunteer with my son’s class from Forest Hill School in Midhurst.

…sadness when the water tower disappeared.

…more sadness when the sign at the highway entrance was ‘updated’. We like the old one.

…and the games; the ball games, three-legged races, horseshoes, even a quiet game of chess.

Springwater park invokes many happy memories. Not just part of Springwater Township’s history, but part of our heritage.


%d bloggers like this: