When I invited all our politicians out to the park with our fried Dale Goldhawk, only Jim answered the call in the summer of 2013.
Always there for us.
All the best from my family to Jim’s.
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)
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.”
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.”
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.
Dr. John Bacher is an award-winning environmental author, speaker and consultant.
Elder Beaton says he should be listened to about unnecessary deforestation in parks.
St. Catharines Standard
April 12, 2017
Bacher knows his trees
Letters to the editor
Danny Beaton, Turtle Clan Mohawk Nation
I’ve been Dr John Bacher’s friend and co-worker for 30 years promoting environmental education and environmental protection.
We were honoured in June 2016 when Bacher was asked by Huron County to serve as an expert in a clear-cutting case and the county’s tree-protection bylaw. Bacher is also known throughout Simcoe and Dufferin counties by farmers and environmentalists for his knowledge. He is respected throughout Ontario by Maude Barlow and Elizabeth May, leaders of Council of Canadians and the Green Party of Canada for his wisdom and endless work for Mother Earth.
Bacher has been a leader for Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society for 30 years or longer. The list goes on and on for his love and energy in defending Niagara from misguided developers.
His book Two Billion Trees and Counting: The Legacy of Edmund Zavitz — Zavitz held the position of chief forester of Ontario, deputy minister of forests and director of reforestation — is a masterpiece.
When Standard reporter Karena Walter wrote her recent story regarding Centennial Park tree-cutting, quoting Bacher as saying the trees were native species, were not invasive and were a mix of ages including some very young trees, he should be listened to.
Some of the trees were providing shade for an intermittent stream. He said the trees in Centennial Park are in forested parkland which is large enough to provide habitat for wildlife like wild turkeys and the great blue heron.
The city should leave part of the park as a natural forest. The Manitoba maples, willows and poplars are being cut down as a preventive measure.
Who do you believe when Bacher says this is wrong as the animals, birds, insects and plants need this forest?
Please help Bacher protect the farmland and forests before all are killed.
Download a pdf here.
Singing in the rain, The Barrie Examiner, April 3, 2017
Stephanie Williams, who is part of the Enviro Venture Outdoor Education Leadership class at Nantyr Shores Secondary School in Innisfil, teaches a bench full of attentive young children during the Singing in the Rain outdoor learning and teaching workshop at Springwater Provincial Park in Midhurst on Saturday.
The event featured hands-on workshops and presentations exploring topics such as school gardens, mindfulness, inquiry in the outdoors and literacy and math in the outdoors for kindergarten to Grade 8 teachers.
Based on what Mayor Hughes disclosed, the majority of Simoce County councillors seem to share that view.
An article on AWARE News Network called Simcoe County wants $5,000 from AWARE Simcoe:
Simcoe County Council voted overwhelmingly today to recover $5,000 in court costs from AWARE Simcoe.
The case involved an application by the citizens’ group for a judicial review of a County decision to allow a developer to clearcut a portion of Beeton Woods. A judge awarded the costs after refusing to grant an injunction to prevent the cutting until the judicial review was heard. AWARE Simcoe then withdrew from the judicial review.
New Tecumseth Mayor Rick Milne told council that developer Tecumseth Estates is not planning to pursue the $27,000 in costs it was awarded against AWARE. The group has no money, he said. “Are we going to spend staff time and legal costs? I think we should just write it off.”
Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes disagreed. “AWARE’s integrity is at stake,” he said. “We should not be letting them off the hook.”
Upon receipt, the county plans to donate the funds to the South Simcoe Streams Network for the planting of trees.
AWARE Simcoe spokesperson Sandy Agnew said members are disappointed in the county’s decision.
“AWARE Simcoe is working hard to protect the environment and natural heritage in Simcoe County and the value of that work seems to be lost on most of county council,” he said.
“AWARE Simcoe members spend their own personal money on our work, while the county spends our tax dollars fighting AWARE Simcoe, instead of getting the process right – as pointed out by the judge.”
Allowing the cutting of the Beeton Woods under the false pretence of agriculture was an abdication of political responsibility by county councillors, Agnew said.
“AWARE Simcoe’s cause was just, but we were out-gunned in court by high paid lawyers who bamboozled the judge. The idea of replacing a mature stand of trees with seedlings planted elsewhere is ludicrous.”
Agnew said AWARE Simcoe’s Vision is for a Healthy Environment, Agricultural Prosperity, Development that is a Net Benefit to the Community, Complete Communities, Reliable Sustainable Energy, Awareness of the Need for Sustainability, and Healthy Lifestyles.
“AWARE Simcoe will continue to fight for our Vision,” he said.
Disclosure: My family has been in Midhurst since 1960, been a member of AWARE Simcoe for 4 years and my son currently serves on their board. In my opinion, saving Springwater Park would have been impossible without their active involvement while Mayor Hughes was indifferent at best.
My family or I are NOT involved in any potential or actual legal action with AWARE Simcoe or any of their Board members.
Is it material if Mayor Hughes failed to disclose any past or present litigation he has personally against AWARE Simcoe of their members to his fellow Simcoe County councillors, before they voted?
Was Mayor Hughes in a conflict of interest?