Sacred Farmland/Aquifers article: The Midhurst Secondary Plan = monstrous developers’ greed + ecocidal idiocy

June 3, 2017

Part 1 AND 2 of a devastating critique of this grotesque sprawl proposal in Simcoe County.

Danny Beaton John Bacher Niagara

An excellent summary published by the Springwater News (p. 6) of the lunacy of the Midhurst Secondary Plan: a desecration of Mother Earth and her creation. Click here for a free pdf download.

Sacred Farmland/Aquifers

Elder Danny Beaton and Dr. John Bacher

Few Canadians know or appreciate the watershed of Midhurst’s Willow Creek, which while marvelous in itself as a wildlife migration corridor and a template for wise ecological recovery, is even more important for its downstream outlet, the Minesing Wetlands. The Minesing Wetlands provides a sense of the beauty and sacredness of an environment guarded by native peoples since the retreat of glaciers over 10,000 years ago. This wonder, however, is now at risk from the massive urban sprawl blessed by the monstrosity called the Midhurst Secondary Plan. The Willow Creek watershed is on the eve of becoming the focal point for bitter battles over subdivision proposals at the Ontario Municipal Board. (OMB)

The Minesing Wetlands which Willow Creek feeds is Ontario’s Lost World. The famous fictional book and movie, which imagined explorers deep in the Amazon discovering giant species from a distant past, approximates the reality of this 6,000 hectare refuge for native species. It gives a glimpse of what Ontario was like before the ecocidal invasion of what is now our province by Euro-Canadians.

The word Minesing in Ojibway language means island. This illustrates how it is a haven for wildlife in a denuded and biologically sterile environment, at risk of being washed over by shock waves of urban sprawl unleashed by a storm of developers’ greed.

Minesing is the last home for entire ecological communities in Ontario, such as the Burr Oak and Hackberry swamp forests. Such ecosystems are a refuge for rare plants as the Beaked Spice-Bush and the Eastern Prairie and White Fingered Orchids. Minesing has southern Ontario’s largest Fen, providing refuge for the rare Least Bittern. Its large expanse of forest makes it a breeding home for the Threatened Cerulean Warbler. Careful documentation has found that 135 species of birds nest in the Minesing Wetlands.

The Minesing Wetlands provides nesting places for some of the most spectacular birds to be found in Ontario, such as the Bald Eagle, Trumpeter Swan and Sandhill Crane. The two heronies of this refuge are the oldest documented breeding grounds for the Great Blue Heron in Ontario. Minesing has a breeding colony for the threatened Black Tern. One of the biggest and most threatened fish in Ontario, the Lake Sturgeon, swims through the wetlands. While the Snapping and Painted Turtle are abundant here, it is also a refuge for threatened Wood, Map and Blanding’s Turtle. It is a staging post for the return of the river otter to southern Ontario. It mingles with another restored shaper of wetlands, the beaver, and the muskrat.

While the big birds, fish, reptiles and mammals of the Lost World of Minesing are impressive, the glory of the wildlife refuge is its being a haven for threatened insects. The wetland is so vast and formidable that it was never burnt out and subsequently farmed, like the ecologically restored, but originally once desertified landscape of Willow Creek around Midhurst. Now insects are threatened by agricultural pesticides. These are not used in a refuge which is controlled by public agencies and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Minesing is haven for the rare Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. It is the largest Butterfly that lives in Canada. It is most significant for being the only place in Canada where an Endangered Species, Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly lives. It was thought to have been extirpated from Canada, but was discovered here in 2007 and listed as Threatened in 2012. It is also Endangered in the United States. The nearest population of this species is 180 kilometres away in Michigan.

Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly endangered status in both the United States and Canada is illustrative of the idiocy of European colonization and exploitation. This did not take place through the rigours of contemporary environmental reviews. It survived in Minesing since the tough wetland was too difficult and wet to be burned away, like the surrounding source contributor of Willow Creek. Its forest were burned away for ashes to make soap. The species has quite exacting needs for its survival. These were only discovered in recent decades by scientists working to rescue the shining emerald green dragonfly from extinction.

Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly is what scientists in the last forty years have become to appreciate as a vernal pool obligate species. Vernal pools are specialized environments that dry up usually by August. They provide habitat for tree frog species, such as Wood and Spring Peeper Frogs, which in the early spring, turn Minesing into an astonishing symphony of musical calls. During the late summer when the pools usually dry up, Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly survives by crawling into damp excavations made by crayfish.

The Willow Creek watershed that pours its flow into Minesing, had its population of Hine’s Emerald dragonfly wiped out by Euro-Canadian invaders. By 1900 most of the land here had been stripped of forests and degraded to marching sand dunes that threatened to bury Barrie, as they had done to an earlier seat of Simcoe County, Angus. However, through determined political leadership, guided by expert scientific advice. this was reversed. The lessons of history are now being ignored however. The watershed of Willow Creek, once buried by sand from burning trees, is now at risk of being covered
over by the cement of sprawl.

In October of 1905 the future Premier of Ontario, Ernest Drury, and the future Chief Forester of Ontario, Edmund Zavitz, went on a tour of the sand dunes of Simcoe County. While walking through the desert they came upon an important contributor to Willow Creek, a bubbling spring. With an abundant aquifer of pure clean water, similar to that which spawned the struggle to stop Dump Site 41, lead by Danny Beaton, (Mohawk Turtle Clan) Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, Stephen Odgen and Elizabeth May, they decided that the spring provided an excellent place for a tree nursery to reforest the spreading desert. This nursery eventually become the 192 hectare Springwater Provincial Park. The park became a staging place for the reintroduction of the Trumpter Swan and Beaver, which now restored, thrive in nearby Minesing.

The battle to rescue Springwater Provincial Park from closure is illustrative of the difficult struggle ahead to stop sprawl in Midhurst. Following closure a year round Objiway struggle led by Beth Elson of occupation followed. It eventually, successfully resulted in the park being reopened under an arrangement between the provincial government and the Beausoleil First Nation.

Springwater Park is only one example of how Willow Creek watershed has benefitted from one of the most massive efforts at ecological restoration in Ontario. It has 21 Simcoe County Forests, which restored 2,039 hectares of blow sand wastes. The forested corridor along Willow Creek is substantial enough to provide a migration corridor for daring bear and moose to enter Minesing. This corridor could expand if it was properly protected from sprawl. The landscape is now an excellent example of how nature and agriculture can co-exist well, with an astonishing mosaic of Class One farmland and interconnected and slowly growing forests. The forests are especially thick in protecting Willow Creek and its tributaries.

The wonders of the struggles of ecological protection and restoration of the past are now threatened by the sinister prescriptions of the Midhurst Secondary Plan. As it stands currently, the plan calls for the construction of 10,000 housing units enough for 30,000 people, on +1,000 acres of the Class One and Two farmlands in the Willow Creek watershed. This will have an enormous environmental impact. Storm water will be dumped, laced with road salt, oil and other toxins into Willow Creek and eventually into Minesing. Building on top of the aquifer that provides recharge water discharged into the Minesing wetland, will also help to dry it up.

The struggle that stopped Dump Site 41 gives an appreciation of the magnitude of the effort to rescue Willow Creek and Minesing. The public servants who attempt to guide the provincial politicians with ecological folly know that it is folly to permit sprawl in Midhurst. The Growth Plan that is supposed to
guide land use planning in the most rapidly growing part of southern Ontario, originally attempted to confine urban growth in the Simcoe County region to the current municipal borders of Barrie. This would have kept sewage pollution out of the Minesing wetland.

The Growth Plan’s provisions were not changed on any rational basis, but simply to bow to potential developers. An aroused Ontario public would convince provincial politicians to listen to their land use planning advisors to impose a Ministerial Zoning Order under the Planning Act, to stop sprawl in Midhurst.

Part 1 and 2, published on June 1st and 15th.

Elder Danny Beaton, Mohawk Turtle Clan is an internationally recognized protector of Mother Earth. Dr. John Bacher is a researcher for the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society (PALS). Danny and John were central in the successful defense of Dump Site 41 and the Mega-Quarry in Melancthon, ON and denying the residential development of Springwater Provincial Park. They continue as important members of the Advisory Council of the Midhurst-based Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition.

Originally posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca.


How frequently has SpringwaterParkcc.org been viewed since October 2012?

September 24, 2015

In total, 60,924 times, 1,647 monthly, or 54.9 views per day.

20150926 Traffic spcc

The 10 most viewed posts in 2015 are:

  1. Barrie Pow Wow at Springwater Park, June 13 and 14th
  2. The Fraud Triangle by Dr. David Cressey
  3. Mel Howell led by example.
  4. Cat’s-paw: a pawn or dupe
  5. Are the 31,000 acres of Simcoe County Forest really The Lungs of Barrie?
  6. My memories from the Waawaase’Aagaming (Lake Simcoe) Water Walk 2015
  7. Ontario parks have been severely underfunded for decades
  8. The Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp occupation of Awenda Provincial Park continues
  9. Grand re-opening of Springwater Park tomorrow!
  10. Corruption in local government: 5 Types

Cross-published by Les Stewart on iLoveMidhurst.ca.


Saving Springwater Park is a provincially-significant, “remarkable environmental victory”.

July 29, 2015

A Dr. John Bacher article published on Sierra Club Ontario’s weblog.

John Bacher

Springwater Victory

Ontario’s environmental movement should be celebrating a remarkable victory won by a two year struggle for the re-opening of Springwater Provincial Park in Midhurst, 10 kilometres north of Barrie. Springwater is a 193 hectare forested park, with picnic grounds and 13 kilometres of hiking trails.

Springwater Park was created through afforestation in the 1920s as a demonstration project of conquering spreading desert sands by planting trees. These sand piles emerged through the burning off of woodlands for agricultural clearance.

white_pine_planted_1924_sign

Springwater Park is named after the gushing springs of pure water that made it an appropriate site for the launching of one of the province’s first reforestation stations. Its powerful pure waters nourish the adjacent Minesing Wetlands, themselves now threatened by urban sprawl. Spring fed ponds in the park helped create habitat used by the province in the past to restore populations of the once endangered Trumpeter Swan.

On July 3, 2015 the Chief of the Beausoleil First Nation Roland Monague, signed a five year agreement with representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests. The agreement is for a five year management of the park for day use by the Beausoleil First Nation. Under this the native community will assume responsibility for staffing, maintenance and operation. It will be assisted financially for three years by the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs through an economic development program.

native_occupation

The agreement was the happy conclusion of a long occupation by women of the Beausoleil First Nation, led by Beth Elson. It began on April 1, 2013 when the park was designated “non-operational.” The occupation was doggedly supported by Midhurst environmentalist, Les Stewart, a dedicated blogger.

honour_treaties_park_occupation

Elson is a veteran of campaigns against both Dump Site 41, which protected the underground aquifer and the Dufferin mega-quarry. She named the occupation, Camp Nibi, which in Ojibway means “uncompromised water.”

The rescue of Springwater Park is an important battle in protecting the ecologically restored landscape of Midhurst from urban sprawl in defiance of the norms of Ontario’s Growth Plan. One of the most disturbing evidences of this was its approval just before the occupation of a development on privately afforested lands directly across from Springwater Park, the Black Creek Estates of Snow Valley. Until an official plan and zoning amendments approved after the passage of the Growth Plan, the land had been zoned as designated as Environmental Protection.

Photo Credits (All taken by Les Stewart)

  • Header Photo — Springwater Park across road from new development Black Creek Estates
  • Photo 1 — White Pine planted in 1924 sign
  • Photo 2 — Native Occupation
  • Photo 3 — Honour Treaties Park Occupation

The Forest Rangers was a big hit on CBC TV when I was a kid.

February 12, 2015

I dreamed of having that type of extended family.

Forest rangers

The Forest Rangers, 1963

Forest rangers 40

The Forest Rangers, 2004

Opening credits video.


Does Perry Bellegarde, the new AFN national chief, deserve our support in his change mandate?

December 14, 2014

Is it possible for everyone in Canada to return to our nations-building time, when we “ate from the same bowl”?

Perry Belgarde

Can we do this in our own communities? In our own park?

A good article in the Globe and Mail by Ken Coates called Canada’s stake in Perry Bellegarde:

There may be no tougher political job in Canada than that just assumed by Perry Bellegarde, newly elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

What is needed?

What we need is a meeting of the minds.

Beyond the tensions within First Nations, non-aboriginal critics complain about First Nations holding the economy ransom over development projects, and lob indiscriminate accusations of corruption at First Nations governments. At the same time, some First Nations leaders insist they can shut down pipeline construction, reassert full control of traditional territories and extract more money from government. Mr. Bellegarde has to bridge this formidable divide. The national interest has to be brought into line with First Nations rights and aboriginal aspirations.

And what can “Allies” (non-aboriginal, non-government: “just us” types) do to help?

Outside of government, it is vital that non-aboriginal Canadians reach out to Mr. Bellegarde and the AFN. From provincial and territorial governments through the churches, the private sector and organizations of new Canadians, we must extend hands of friendship and reconciliation. ‎To a degree that too few Canadians realize, the nation’s future requires a constructive and honest relationship with First Nations.

 

 


Hello newly-elected municipal leaders: John Ralston Saul says aboriginal rights are a “simple matter of rights denied”.

October 29, 2014

How about every level of government (starting with municipalities) simply following the law, human rights and the direction of the Supreme Court when it comes to First Nations’ relationships?
john ralston saul toronto star

Who is afraid of a little “meaningful consultation and accommodation” about land use?

An interesting article by Jim Coyle of the Toronto Star, about allowing justice (not bequeathing charity) when first nations are concerned:

“What we face is a simple matter of rights — of citizens’ rights that are still being denied to indigenous peoples. It is a matter of rebuilding relationships central to the creation of Canada and, equally important, to its continued existence.”

The stakes are that high, he says. And — given history, the power of demographics and the rise of an educated aboriginal class — the issue is not going away.

“Enormous efforts are being made to stop it, to sideline it, or to slow it down,” he says. “It cannot be done.”

Saul’s message to newly-elected municipal officials?:

He leaves no easy out for guilty liberals merely satisfied to have their hearts in the right place. “We — you and I — have not elected or defeated people on this basis.

“That’s what we need to do now. We need to be saying to people who want to be our representatives: ‘I will vote for you or against you depending on your willingness to come full front on this issue, spend the money, act with respect, listen to the courts,’ ”

And since we are all Treaty People (aboriginal and non-aboriginals) we have 2 things to do:

“We must reinstall a national narrative built on the centrality of the aboriginal peoples’ past, present and future. And the policies of the country must reflect that centrality, both conceptually and financially.”

Protecting legal rights not giving bleeding-heart charity, begins at home.


John Ralston Saul’s new book is very good news for those wanting to understand the future of Springwater Park.

October 26, 2014

To explain Canada’s fundamental Métis  past, read Sauls’ A Fair Country.

Penguin JRS1

I suggest his The Comeback will go a long way to explaining our future and how Springwater Park fits within this important national dialogue.

Posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca.


%d bloggers like this: