Canada’s Largest First Nations newspaper and the Midhurst sprawl plan’s “junk science”.

June 20, 2017

Ontario continues to encourage Simcoe County as the “wild west of development/sprawl”.

Free download here.

First Nations Drum
April 1, 2017

 

Ontario Planner Struggles to Save Huron-Wyandot Homeland

By Dr. John Bacher (PhD) & Danny Beaton (Mohawk, Turtle Clan)

Opinion

The Turtle Island region of Huronia – otherwise known by its archaic colonial name of Simcoe County – is under environmental assault by urban sprawl. A blockade to stop Dump Site 41, the occupation of Springwater Provincial Park, and sacred water walks along the shores of Lake Simcoe are tactics being used to rescue the traditional territories of the Huron-Wyandot.

Victor Doyle is a senior planner with the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, (OMMAH) and is inspired by the earth-respecting spiritual actions of various Ojibway communities and their many Mohawks allies. Doyle has been with OMMAH for three decades and is at the epicenter of ongoing battles to protect this sacred land with his fighting for provincially-directed land use planning to rescue wildlife, farms, forests and water from human greed.

Doyle’s most avid opponents are twofold – corporations, and the powerful minions of developers who run Simcoe County (politicians). Doyle’s determination to stand up against their pressure has earned him their enmity. One such politician is former Mayor Doug White of West Gwillimbury, who as far back as 2010 dismissed Doyle’s defense of Ontario’s land use policies as the mere rantings of “one unelected provincial bureaucrat.”

Waawaasaegaaming (Lake Simcoe) Water Walk 2015, The Narrows, Orillia, ON. Photo by Les Stewart

Chief Planner of Toronto, Jennifer Keesmaat, has made Doyle the public voice on the issue, commanding media attention on the research of agronomists, foresters, conservation biologists, land use planners, hydrologists and municipally-controlled conservation authorities. Though no official title accompanies Doyle’s point-man position, his stature and prominence should be effective in forestalling or preventing further encroachment.

Two brave conservationists, Wayne Wilson and Patti Young, are no longer with the Nottawasaga Conservation Authority due to their opposition to urban sprawl from the booming City of Barrie spilling over into its watershed and into the community of Midhurst in Springwater Township. In 2014, both Wilson and Young departed under the guise of an NVCA “efficiency audit.” Young vacated her position first with Wilson following suit.

While such relatively obscure figures cannot get the media’s attention, Doyle’s warnings about violations of provincial land use policy ravaging Huronia have been published in two of Canada’s leading newspapers, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. Doyle’s first warnings about Huronia appeared in the December 12, 2009 edition of the Toronto Star. The newspaper characterized his warnings as “a damming memo from Ontario’s senior planner” that paints “a stark picture of unsustainable sprawl, congestion and skyrocketing infrastructure costs if the province proceeds with a controversial strategy to urbanize large swaths of Simcoe County north of the Greenbelt.”

Waawaasaegaaming (Lake Simcoe) Water Walk 2015, Tudhope Park, Orillia, ON. Photo by Les Stewart

When penning his 2009 warnings, Doyle worried about schemes promoted by corporations to turn the small hamlet of Bond Head, a village of 500 people served by septic tanks, into a city of 114,000 persons. This threat still endures, although now in a more modest scale of a 30,000 hectare proposal. A new danger emerging is the construction of 10,000 housing units in Midhurst. The biggest problem posed by this development is the polluted runoff spilling into Willow Creek, which is a major source of water flowing into the Minesing Wetlands. The wetlands are an important refuge for rare, endangered and ecologically significant wildlife including the endangered Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly, Sturgeon, Bald Eagle, Trumpeter Swan, Sandhill Crane, Blue Winged Warbler, and various turtles.

As Doyle took to writing his second citizen report this spring, Ontario’s land use planning system’s “Co-ordinated Review” appeared to be on the brink of collapse. A freeze on urban boundary expansions – a key principle of both the Greenbelt and the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan – was under attack by media, developers and municipalities.

The Toronto Globe and Mail provided a link to Doyle’s full 27 page report titled “The Growth Plan and the Greenbelt Plan: Settling the Record Straight” where he vigorously defends urban boundaries. This led to a modest expansion of the Greenbelt on urban river valleys and on grape and fruit tree growing lands in Grimsby. While “Setting the Record Straight” saved the Greenbelt, it has not yet rescued Huronia. The warnings in the report do show why Midhurst, Bond Head and all of its remaining rural land need the protection of the Greenbelt.

Nonsense used to justify the urbanization of Willow Creek, such as the claim urbanization does not harm streams, is junk science, and has been refuted by Doyle using data from the watershed report cards assembled by conservation authorities. Using a study by the Credit River Conservation Authority, Doyle demonstrates how surface water in urbanized areas is always rated, “Very Poor” or “Poor” and explains that damaged watersheds are without any native fish, turtles or frogs.

Doyle said the main threat posed to Minesing Wetlands wildlife refuge from urban sprawl is “the major issue of habitat loss, which, in turn, is the key loss of bio-diversity.” Doyle warns refusal to extend the Greenbelt into Simcoe County is causing a mass sale of farms purchased by land speculators. His report states, “development interests continue to be speculatively buying or securing huge land assemblies tens of thousands of acres beyond the green belt.” The speculation in Simcoe County has led to farmland to commonly sell for $54,000 dollars an acre. In contrast, in the better regulated Waterloo region, farmland cost $14,000 an acre.

Doyle’s report illustrates the necessity of the struggle to protect Huronia inside the Greenbelt – a struggle made more difficult by the hostility we received while walking around Lake Simcoe with Ojibway environmental leaders in the “Walk for the Water.” My experience includes a driver of an animal control vehicle angrily scowling at us for taking a rest near a bicycle trail.

Those in Huronia that care for the earth should not be treated with contempt, but with the honor given to one standing-up for the sake of the entire community and the life web supporting it. The province must rescue Huronia by extending the Greenbelt.

The province must rescue Huronia by extending the Greenbelt.

Dr. Bacher and Elder Beaton continue on our Advisory Council.

Originally re-posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca.


“Mum’s the word” from the Mega developers, OMB and County of Simcoe about expanding Greenbelt environmental protection.

November 20, 2015

So we’re supposed to rest easy with the OMB-approved county Official Plan on the way? Right??

greenbelt-expanded

The Oak Ridges Moraine Partnership and the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance have proposed Ontario’s Greenbelt expand to include almost 300,000 hectares in Simcoe County. The proposed area is shown in dark green and includes Lake Simcoe, the Oro Moraine, the Nottawasaga River Watershed and the Minesing Wetlands. SUBMITTED PHOTO

An interesting Barrie Advance article by Sara Carson called Groups ask province to expand Ontario’s Greenbelt (curiously not online but available in pdf)

When you drink tap water, take a shower and swim in a local lake, you want that water to be clean and safe.

This is why the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition is asking the province to expand Ontario’s Greenbelt in our area.

“People get behind the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. This is just the next logical step,” said coalition co-chair-person Margaret Prophet.

Ontario’s Greenbelt is a 1.8-million-acre parcel of protected farmland, wetland and forest stretching from the Greater Toronto Area north to Tobermory. In Simcoe County, the Greenbelt covers Holland Marsh crop areas in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil as well as portions of Adjala-Tosorontio and New Tecumseth.

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing spokesperson Conrad Spezowka said the province is committed to growing the Greenbelt. In the spring, the ministry completed a series of public consultations to review four provincial growth plans and to consider Greenbelt expansion.

“Municipal interest to date has been on adding urban river valleys within existing urban areas. This builds on the Greenbelt Plan amendment, which recognizes urban river valleys as important connections to the Great Lakes and will help municipalities in identifying possible areas for Greenbelt expansion,” Spezowska said

Proposed amendments will come forward in the winter of 2016, he added.

More than 100 community groups, including the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition and Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, have asked the province to nearly double the size of the Greenbelt to add 1.5 million acres of land containing vital water resources. In Simcoe County this includes almost 300,000 hectares of land covering the Lake Simcoe watershed, the Oro Moraine, the Nottawasaga River Wetlands, which supply and purify clean drinking water for most resident of the county, Prophet said.

“We’re hoping at the lest the vulnerable water areas of Simcoe County would be protected,” she added. “Only a portion of the Lake Simcoe watershed is protected.”

Cheryl Shindruk, a member of the Midhurst Landowners Group, declined comment on the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition’s plan to grow the greenbelt. The landowners group is made up of five development companies.

“When the Crombie report is made public, we will consider its recommendations and make comment if necessary, but we will not be commenting on any individual submissions from any group to the Crombie panel,” Shindruk said.

David Crombie chairs the six-member provincial growth plan review panel.

The Barrie Advance requested an interview with a County of Simcoe representative regarding the greenbelt expansion. In a prepared statement, Warden Gerry Marshall said the county does not comment on matters between the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition and the province. He provided a stateme4nt about the county’s planning policies.

Marshall said the county’s updated official plan, under review at the Ontario Municipal Board, would expand the amount of protected green lands, significantly increase protection of wetland areas and protect farmland.

“The county is setting density targets with fixed boundaries for all settlement areas,” he added.

“Once approved, Simcoe County would have some of the most stringent land use protection policies and designations in the province. These are very strong planning policies that provide a responsible balance to protect our lands and resources, while fostering growth by creating new regional transportation options, supporting economic prosperity and encouraging healthy, vibrant communities,” Marshall said.

During the next 26 years, the county’s population will expand by 164,703 residents and the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition questions what this means for our water supply. Prophet said greenbelt protection would ensure the water remains healthy throughout development.

“If we really want Simcoe County to grow in a sensible way, to make sure what we have now is preserved for future generations or even healthier than what we have, then now is the time to stand behind our water because once it’s compromised it’s compromised,” she said.

20151119 Margaret Prophet

Margaret Prophet, co-chair of the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition. SUBMITTED PHOTO

It said they would “not be able to handle much more effluent without he water quality being compromised and that was back nine years ago,” she said.

And we already see evidence the county’s water quality and supply is declining with summer water restrictions and beach closures, she added.

“Those things have started to impact our daily life and those are indicators that the water isn’t plentiful, or necessarily healthy in our area.”

Water restrictions have been commonplace in Barrie, Springwater and Orillia. This past summer, Thornton issued a water ban when water supply reached critical levels, Prophet noted.

Note: The public record shows the connections between the Midhurst Secondary Plan, Midhurst Landowners’ Group, Geranium Corporation and Ms. Shindruk. There are some related articles here about these relationships.

Originally published on DemocracyWatchSimcoe.ca.

 


Will the Greenbelt panel headed by former Toronto Mayor David Crombie “mean business” by stopping sprawl?

November 11, 2015

An article by Dr. John Bacher called Ontario May Finally Be Getting Serious About Stopping Urban Sprawl:

During the Second World War, one of the great intellectuals of our time, George Orwell, penned an essay about what the course of action for a Labour Party government he hoped for would be following a victorious peace. He contemplated what such a government would do if it were serious and “meant business.”

As it turned out, Orwell was quite prophetic in anticipating what a Labour Party government would do. It did truly “mean business.”

Major greenbelts were established around growing cities such as London. They have become so effective that the rate of loss of rural land after Labour’s landslide victory in 1945 became minuscule compared to the impacts of urban sprawl after the First World War.

20151111 John bacherOntario may be ready to spare more green places like the one on the left from what became of it on the right.

Here in Ontario, with the exception of protecting Niagara’s unique fruit lands, the designation in 2005 of a Greenbelt in Niagara and other parts of the Golden Horseshoe, was not a sign that the province “meant business” about stopping urban sprawl. This was because virtually everywhere else in the province, there was a gap in between the actual urban zoning boundary and the borders of the Greenbelt.

The agricultural and environmental protection zoned lands left out of the Greenbelt were given to expressive names. One was the “White Belt”, reflecting the colour on maps in between the Greenbelt and the grey urban boundary. An environmental protection group the Neptis Foundation came up with a more mocking phrase, inverting a planning designation of the Greenbelt Plan. This was to call the “White Belt”, “the Unprotected Countryside.”

In a 2005 study, released shortly before the passage of the Greenbelt legislation, Neptis calculated that the “Unprotected Countryside”, would create a land use planning disaster.

The “Unprotected Countryside” put 146,700 hectares of rural land at risk for sprawl. It found that even if the Greenbelt borders were extended right up to the actual urban zoning limits, densities would still be too low to efficiently encourage a high level of service for transit.

Neptis’ fears have come true in a most disturbing way. Through isolated hearings of the Ontario Municipal Board, (OMB), chunks of the Unprotected Countryside have passed from agricultural to urban zoning. Some 17,500 hectares of formerly agriculturally zoned land are now in urban land use designations, shrinking the White Belt to 129,500 hectares. One of the worst consequences of this sprawl will be its eventual consequences, once the land is actually built upon, on the ability of watersheds to support life.

White Belt sprawl hits lands that are very ecologically sensitive, impacting some of the province’s most vulnerable watersheds, lakes and streams.

In Hamilton, OMB hearings have led to the urbanization of hundreds of hectares of White Belt lands. This has impacted the headwaters of Twenty Mile Creek, which is already dry for most of the year, except for isolated ponds where fish such as the Northern Pike struggle to survive in the summer.

In 2005, there was a Lake Simcoe White Belt in Newmarket and Aurora. All these formerly agriculturally zoned lands are now in urban designations. To accommodate the anticipate flush of storm water, a new sewage treatment plant will have to be built at Holland Landing. This threatens the precarious Lake Trout and Whitefish populations of Lake Simcoe with a toxic tide of phosphorous loadings.

John Bacher SpringwaterThreatened landscape in Midhurst near Springwater Provincial Park north of Toronto. Land on left is in park and immediately to right is threatened by urban sprawl.

A provincially endowed but independent think tank, the Greenbelt Foundation, recently issued a study that hopefully is a sign that the province is getting ready to mean business in tackling sprawl. It is appropriately titled, “Growing the Greenbelt to Protect Vulnerable Water Resources in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region.”

Hopefully the release of “Growing the Greenbelt” is a sign that the province is preparing to cut back the bloated White Belt to protect our precious watersheds. It proposes to do this in three areas that encompass all headwaters of significant streams.

Two areas are part of the Oak Ridges Moraine in the Humber and Rouge watersheds. The third is a fragile stream with a more vulnerable headwaters area, Carruthers Creek in Pickering.

The “Growing the Greenbelt” report notes that 1,500 hectares of the Carruthers Creek headwaters area is threatened by urbanization supported by Durham Region. It notes that, “An Environmental Assessment produced by Ajax found that upstream development of the headwaters would increase downstream flooding in Ajax, directly impacting more than 1,000 residents, and causing an increase in flood speed at levels of up to 132 per cent.”

Pollution from development in the headwaters put two native cold water fish species at risk, the Mottled Scuplin and the endangered Redside Dace. It also jeopardizes a fishery of Rainbow Trout. A watershed study by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) found the threatened headwaters are important for threatened Bobolink, Meadowlark and Monarch butterflies. They are also a resting refuge for migrating birds.

“Growing the Greenbelt” documents carefully the ecological threats posed by the urbanization of the Rouge headwaters in Markham, some 2,000 hectares. It concludes that, “Enveloped on three sides by the Greenbelt, protection and enhancement of these lands can provide important natural connections to the highly fragmented watershed and help reverse a serious decline in water quality downstream.”

In addition to the cold water Mottled Sculpin and Rainbow Darter, the Rouge here provides habitat for another good ecological indicator, the Brook Lamprey. A TRCA watershed study finds that these species are all “on the threshold of decline.” It warns that urbanization would bring about consequences similar to those on the Rouge’s most degraded tributary, Beaver Creek, where there is a “higher concentration of phosphorous and E. Coli.”

A TRCA watershed study for the Humber River also notes the threats posed by expansion into the White Belt. It has identified such “harmful impacts of urbanization” on “water balance, water quality, natural cover, aquatic and terrestrial communities, cultural heritage and air quality. These effects include increased surface runoff, more water pollution, greater annual flow volume in rivers and streams, increased erosion and sedimentation, channel instability and losses of cultural heritage and biodiversity.”

In addition to greening the White Belt the “Growing the Greenbelt” report identifies the need to stop 2,000 acres of sprawl in the Midhurst area of Springwater Township, located in the headwaters of the Nottawasaga River. A two year struggle involving a native occupation was required to stop the proposed closure of Springwater Provincial Park, an important source of water for the Minesing wetland. The report stresses the need to grow the Greenbelt here to protect “large swaths of recharge lands” vital for this significant wetland complex.

The “Growing the Greenbelt” report also listened to the City Council of Thorold which for a decade has been calling for the extension of the Greenbelt around Lake Gibson. It stresses an area that “supplies drinking water to half of Niagara Region, including St. Catharines and Niagara on the Lake, with an estimated 150,000 residents dependent on these supplies. The Lake also supplies flow to coldwater streams, many with brook trout populations and provides habitat for water birds such as herons. Largely forested, the area connects Short Hills Provincial Park and the Welland Canal.”

It is to be hoped that “Growing the Greenbelt” reflects the still secret recommendations of the hearing panel on the provincial Co-ordinated Plan review, headed by former Toronto Mayor, David Crombie. If this is the case, it may be a good sign that the province is finally meaning business when it comes to protecting our watersheds.

John Bacher is a veteran conservationist in Niagara, Ontario and long-time member of the citizen group, Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society. A past contributor of posts to Niagara At Large, his most recent book is called ‘Two Billion Trees and Counting – The Legacy of Edmund Zavitz’.


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


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.


Official re-opening of Springwater Park

July 31, 2015
reopens

Beausoleil First Nation Chief Jeff Monague, Chief Glen Hare, Chief Roland Monague and Grand Chief Anishinabek Patrick Madahbee open the traditional wampum belt that is displayed at First Nation ceremonies, such as the one at the grand opening of Springwater Provincial Park which will be run by by the Beausoleil First Nation. PHOTO: CHERYL BROWNE

Cheryl Browne reports for the Barrie Examiner Springwater park reopens with ceremony:

Four chiefs carefully laid out the wampum belt on a purple cloth in the pavilion in Springwater Provincial Park on Friday.

After years of negotiating with Ontario Parks and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), the two Beausoleil First Nation chiefs and two Anishinabek regional chiefs placed the wampum in a place of honour at the front table.

“The wampum belt represents the government and us. It represents all people and it’s a reminder that, instead of fighting, let’s work together,” said Deputy Grand Chief Glen Hare, a member of the Loon Clan.

“It is part of our culture, our teachings,” he added. “A lot of these things have come back to us now.”

Hare pointed to the front of the shelter where a traditional Beausoleil First Nation staff stood in the place of honour beside the regional eagle-feather leader stand representing 39 provincial First Nation territories, beside the flag of Ontario.

After prayers were said in Anishinaabe, more than 100 people gathered to be smudged, including Springwater Mayor Bill French, Barrie MPP Ann Hoggarth, Barrie Coun. Rose Romita, several Ontario Provincial Police officers, as well as Scott Thomas of the MNRF.

Thomas worked tirelessly with the Beausoleil First Nation during the women’s occupation of the park from April 2, 2013 until December.

The women left the park once the province ensured the First Nation a deal would be worked out to share the park.

Beausoleil Chief Jeff Monague welcomed the visitors to what is now a partnership between the Beausoleil First Nation and Ontario Parks until 2019.

“We are now going forward, walking that path together for the first time in many, many years,” Monague said. “We want to build a better place for everyone in Ontario, where rights are given to indigenous people across the province.”

The five-year deal will allow Beausoleil staff to run the day-park under funding from the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, with hopes of using the 12 kilometres of hiking trails, picnic facilities and playing fields to teach aboriginal ways.

When the MNRF closed the park gates in 2013, Springwater was home to 29 orphaned animals which were moved to an assortment of wildlife sanctuaries across Canada.

Of the other 10 parks the ministry changed to non-operational status — including Caliper Lake in Nestor Falls, Fushimi Lake in Hearst, Greenwater in Cochrane, Ivanhoe Lake in Foleyet, Mississagi in Elliot Lake, Obatanga near Wawa, Rene Brunelle in Kapuskasing, Tidewater in Moosonee and The Shoals in Chapleau — three parks were kept open by their municipalities, including Ivanhoe, Rene Brunelle and Fushimi.

French, who initially inherited the non-operational park when he became mayor, said he’s delighted to hear of the agreement.

“Welcome everyone to this sacred and precious land in the middle of our wonderful township,” French said.

After winning the mayoral seat last October, French became involved with park, insisting township staff plow the roads during winter and cut the grass in time for a recent powwow.

“I think, as a township, we should have taken more of a co-ordinating role in the discussions, but we didn’t,” he said. “But we will now.”

The Misty River drummers, six men in all, played the traditional, rhythmic flag song on a communal drum, singing in many voices which echoed across the park resounding above the loud thumps of the single drum.

Large tables were heaped with food for the reception following the grand opening, with plenty of food and room at the pavilion tables for all who attended.

cheryl.browne@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/cherylbrowne1


With serious social justice causes, I write on the internet to influence the powerful stakeholders.

February 20, 2015

My Midhurst neighbours may think I am writing about Springwater Park at SpringwaterParkcc.org for the “average Joe”.

Traffic SpringwaterParkcc

I don’t mind anyone reading what I write but my primary literary target has always been the Province of Ontario.

I told the rest of the members of the Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition that I would quit as their president after 6 months. My job was to identify, scan, and get the legitimate, constitutional powers at the same table which (I hoped) would result in keeping Springwater Park green for the next seven generations and more.

I started doing the research in Oct 2012, and then the nine-month long First Nations occupation started April 1, 2013.

Any resolution will be based on a nation-to-nation negotiation based on Canadian LEGAL realities not some white-mans’ guilt or charity or political correctness. That we’ve come this far is a great testament to the maturity, grace and intelligence of those working together to keep this land sacred.

It’s a great story; a story that our grand kids will re-tell with justifiable pride.

 


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