“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.

 

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For whose greater good is the County of Simcoe serving when the try to “SLAPP” AWARE Simcoe into silence?

October 10, 2015

The citizens of Simcoe County or other interests?

Simcoe logo

An original article from Dr. John Bacher pdf

A New “White Savagery” Assault on  Ontario’s Restored Forests: SLAPP lawsuits and “Award of Costs”

Dr. John Bacher

Bacher Beeton

Dr. Bacher addresses the Simcoe County council in support of Stop Work Order, Beeton Woods clear cut.

In 19th century Ontario when forests were reduced to ashes to make cheap soap creating as a result deserts that threatened to bury the province in sand, forest burners used fairly crude tactics against their opponents.  The one figure who attempted to stand up to these assaults, the Mohawk Iroquois Confederacy Chief George Johnson, had three assassination attempts on his life for enforcing the Six Nation’s forest protection laws.

Johnson  was beaten and left to dead by his assailants, one time surviving only because a bullet intended to kill him, got stuck in a heavy waist coat for a patrol on a chilly autumn night.   A friend, the anthropologist Horatio Hale,  called this evil assault “white savagery.”

Johnson certainly knew how to use what his fellow Confederacy elders called “the good mind” against his opponents. Helped by the literary and musical talents of his family, which included his English born wife, Emily and performance daughter artist  Pauline, he lured the intellectual elite of Ontario to his home Chiefswood.

At Chiefswood helped by the magnificence of the towering trees protected by the Mohawks, Johnson explained to his guests  that forests were too valuable to be burnt up for play. Eventually public opinion changed resulting in the tripling of forest cover in Ontario under the direction of its Chief Forester, Edmund Zavitz.

What is astonishing today is that we see a new assault on the restored forest Johnson conceived and Zavitz planted. This is a new form of what Hale termed.  “white savagery”. It  involves more refined and  subtle methods than the past gunfire and beatings.

Rather than attempt as in the corrupt Gilded Age to silence conservationists through crude shootings, the preferred method of intimidation today  has become the “cost award” and “SLAPP” suit (Strategic lawsuit against public participation).  What is sought however, is the same: to try to intimidate people who love forests to get out of the way of their destruction.

Within the week we have seen two attempts by environmentalists to rescue forests restored through Zavitz’s forest conservation efforts from development corporations be the targets of a renewed savagery against their defenders. Both of these forests were created as a result of Zavitz’s forest conservation efforts.

The David Dunlap Forest planted between 1938 and 1980 helped rescue Toronto from flooding on the Don River and the march of sand from the once treeless Oak Ridges Moraine. Forests in the Simcoe County Township of New Tecumseh in the village of Beeton were created for their role in protecting drinking water. The Premier of Ontario, E. C. Drury, who bolstered Zavitz’s conservation efforts, praised Beeton for increasing its “water supply by judicious reforestation.”

20151009 Chiefswood 3

Mary Lou Jorgensen Bacher at Mohawk Chief George Johnson’s home, “Chiefswood”

The Richmond Hill Naturalists attempted to save about half (43 acres) of the David Dunlap Forest from proposed residential development. After losing a re-zoning decision at the OMB, which subsequently caused close to fifty acres of forests to be clear cut,  it was hit by the granting of a $100,000 award of costs requested by the developer, Metrus. AWARE Simcoe is now struggling to protect 30 acres of a Beeton forest from a development company that is pretending to be an agricultural operation. Although the forest is still intact, Simcoe County granted a “Special Permit”, which exempts the forest from provisions against tree cutting in its tree by-law.  It is seeking court injunction to revoke the “Special Permit” and for this reason has been hit by a request for up to +$63,000 in court costs.

What is most bizarre about this new round of “white savagery” against forest defenders is a common attempt by developers and their minions to deny that environmental protection groups represent the public interest. Lawyer for Simcoe County Marshall Green articulated this view in his court submission against AWARE Simcoe. He takes the view that it is nothing than a “corporate lobby group.” In this regards Green echoes the OMB’s condemnation of the Richmond Hill Naturalists, which also challenged their status as public interest defenders. This was expressed in a ruling before the cost award granted by OMB  hearing officer, Joseph Sniezek in a preliminary procedure before the merits of the re-zoning of the Dunlap Forest was considered. This was based on a previous OMB decision, Zellers versus Leamington. The OMB ruled that efforts to save 43 acres of forests from residential development by a long established environmental group, had the same corporate self-interested status as a discount chain store struggling to delay the establishment of a new shopping mall.

In condemning the Richmond Hill Naturalists, hearing officer Sniezek claimed that they had no substantive evidence. This is based on his belief that in the zoning decision he adjudicated he was bound to not depart from an earlier official plan amendment heard by OMB Vice-Chair, Karlene J. Hussey.

In her decision however, Hussey clearly indicated that she believed that efforts to protect forests were a legitimate matter for the subsequent zoning hearing. In response to an effort by the Mississaugas of the New Credit to obtain a delay in the official plan hearing, she ruled that they should “participate in the public process associated with the zoning by-law amendment necessary to implement the development.” In response to the Richmond Hill Naturalists concerns over the loss of “key hydrological features, including seepage areas and springs”, Hussey likewise directed them to the zoning process. Most significantly she ruled that the view of the Naturalists’ expert witness in Aboriculture, Jack Radecki that the threatened for should be kept in its “entirety” was a legitimate matter for the zoning process to consider.

At this time southern Ontario’s restored forests are facing numerous threats in addition to the savagery of the cost award and SLAPP suit.  While swamps, wet forests are for now protected by provincial policy, it is undergoing a review. (Both the Dunlap and Beeton forests are dry and therefore vulnerable to development.) This strong protection for swamp forests  could be weakened by proposals for what is termed bio-diversity offsetting.

Danny Beaton a Mohawk of the Turtle Clan spoke about the looming threats to our region’s forests at meeting in Newmarket. Here Beaton pleaded, “Without Mother Earth, we cannot survive. We all need fresh water, fresh food, fresh air. People have forgotten to think of the Earth as their mother. This is what life is based on. ..The Earth is losing because we aren’t working together. When these proposals come forward to destroy habitat with new development, we need to put our energy together to find solutions. We can mobilize scientists and bring teachers and doctors and elders and farmers together.”

John Bacher PhD is an environmental writer, researcher and consultant, JohnBacherPhD.ca. He works with the Sierra Club of Canada on Greenbelt issues. Danny Beaton is a Mohawk elder who protects Mother Earth,  DannyBeaton.ca. Originally published on DemocracyWatchSimcoe.ca with photo by Dr. Bacher.

Simcoe County council will be discussing whether your politicians want to press for court awards against AWARE Simcoe on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, at 9 am in Midhurst administration centre (agenda, Google map)

Disclosure: My family is a member of  AWARE Simcoe and my son sits on their Board of Directors. Membership.

Originally posted on DemocracyWatchSimcoe.ca.


Midhurst sprawl: What is the weakest response a developer could make when Ontario Nature calls about their plan?

June 19, 2014

Why did Geranium Corp. appear to effectively say “no comment” if this scheme is such a done deal?

20140601 Midhurst residents 3

Threatened: Proposed development could adversely affect Minesing Wetlands.

 An interesting article in the summer edition of Ontario Nature‘s newsletter, ON Nature, called: Midhurst residents oppose development: pdf

 …In 2012, the Ontario minister of infrastructure granted MLG a “special rule” allowing the developer group to proceed with planning the first 300 hectares of the project.

Geranium Corp., the largest member in the MLG consortium, is no stranger to controversial projects. The developer is also behind the Big Bay Point Marina development on Lake Simcoe, which received approval despite concerns over the environmental impact of adding 1,600 timeshare units and a 1,000-slip marina to the already taxed watershed. “They’re extremely good at marketing their proposals to government and, more often than not, they’re successful,” says Strachan. “It’s amazing to me how gullible the government has been.” (At press time, calls to Geranium Corp. for comment had not been returned.)

While 4/7ths of the current Springwater Township continues to strike a truly ostrich assume-the-position, position, the winds of change are bringing in some very heavy-weight opponents of the Midhurst Secondary Plan.

While Springwater Township has warned that any attempt to stop the development in Midhurst would result in lawsuits, Strachan and others are not willing to give up the fight. A number of high-profile artists and politicians, including Margaret Atwood, Maude Barlow, MPP Jim Wilson and MP Patrick Brown, publicly support the campaign. More information is available on Stop Springwater Sprawl (stopspringwatersprawl.com).

Don’t forget to come to the MRA’s event this Sunday: Celebration of Rural Living with Margaret Atwood.

Margaret Atwood poster

Cross-posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca and voteLesStewart.ca.


Why are the Midhurst sprawl-miesters running scared by doing an “end run” to get their re-zoning orders?

March 24, 2014

The poor boys thought scoring was a “Done Deal” but others and the law appear to disagree.

Demanding the Ontario Municipal Board, OMB give them their precious re-zoning orders “RFN” (full 10,000 houses):
  • before the environmental assessments are done (a no-n0, especially see RAMSAR certified Minesing Wetlands),
  • before the  current house negro township Council majority gets their increasingly-apparent doofus rubber-stamp on the crucial re-zoning orders,
  • before Margaret Atwood  and Friends (Michael  Ondaatje, Joseph Boyden, Maude Barlow, Neil & Pegi Young, and John Ralston Saul) show up at Nursery Road and Springwater Park-Camp Nibi,
  • before  the township’s Oct 27th township election allows democracy to do its purging work again,
  • before a new Minister (Linda Jeffrey quits Ontario cabinet to run for Brampton mayor) is appointed,
  • before a former Kingston municipal politician retires and passes Ontario’s 1st anti-SLAPP law, and
  • before Premier Wynne calls a spring provincial election, which would give her ….

….the pretense for a ministerial order overthrowing 100% of the financially reckless, environmentally-catastrophic Midhurst Secondary Plan.

With the stroke of a pen.

End Run Analogy: Colloquially, it has come to mean an attempt to avoid a difficult situation by dodging it without confronting it directly, or to attempt to circumvent someone’s authority by appealing to a different authority. Wikipedia

Come out to Council meeting tonight at 5:30 pm or the county museum tomorrow night to smell the fear and loathing.

Posted on voteLesStewart.ca and iLoveMidhurst.ca.


Will there be a “reform” Ward 5 (Midhurst) candidate for councillor in Springwater Township in the next municipal election on Oct 27, 2014?

December 5, 2013

History suggests that this perception is useful for the 1 per cent.

Springwater ward 5a

Relatively few people will make hundreds of millions of $ because of the presently defined and future sprawl resulting from the Midhurst Secondary Plan and annexation stays as a “Done Deal”.

  • One family stands to lose $4,000,000  if it is defeated.

If the economic/political elite act as gatekeepers primarily for their self-interest as some have written,  Does township chief magistrate history suggest the next very, very charming Midhurst councillor will be able to deliver the Necessary Illusion of the trying to defeat the Midhurst Secondary Plan?

Last 4 mayors of Springwater Township (present to 1994).

Linda Collins mayor

Linda Collins

Tony Guergis

Tony Guergis *

John Brown

John Brown *

helen coutts

Helen Coutts *

An asterick (*) means they also served as Warden at the County of Simcoe.

Source

Cross posted on  and iLoveMidhurst.ca and voteLesStewart.ca .


Is it fair to keep a gun to Springwater Provincial Park’s head for another 12 months?

February 28, 2013

The record indicates that the decision to close the park was made and implemented in bad faith from October 2012 to now (5 months).

Shoot this park dog

Keeping a gun to the community’s head for another 12 months simply compounds the contempt shown the commoners (ie. non-elite, the taxpayers).

Time may show this to be a necessary desperate tactic to salvage a mega-, mega- real estate deal.

Adverse Inference: The County of Simcoe, Township of Springwater, and the Ministry of Natural Resources, MNR consciously chose to freeze-out all community groups since December 6, 2012. It would have taken me 2 minutes to ask for details about the $1 million capital “excuse”. I was a financial analyst for five years but I guess that type of preliminary due diligence eluded all township and county politicians. CAOs and financial officers.

Record

  1. Springwater Park has existed for 107 years and has been a provincial park since 1958.
  2. Parks Ontario is a division of the MNR which operates over 300 provincial parks, and controls 10% of all Ontario land. Their mandate is to maintain a permanent system of parks and to consult with the public.
  3. The MNR’s mandate is to sell 87% of all Ontario land. The current provincial government has close to $12 billion deficit problem to deal with.
  4. The MNR can sell at least 1,087 acres of crown land in Springwater Township.  The County of Simoce can sell at least 2,289.7 acres of Simcoe Forests in Springwater Township (source). Springwater Township rezoned land within Springwater Park to Administration/Government the latest 2008 (source).
  5. The MNR says that Springwater Park’s usage is half of what it was 10 years ago (No wonder with the main gate being broken, fences were down or non-existent, staff not working on weekend, no ticketing of free riders).
  6. The MNR says the park loses $100,000 per year (used to be $60,000, logging revenue used to count but doesn’t now).
  7. The Ministry of Natural Resources says that the County of Simcoe must invest $1,000,000 for capital improvements. However, when a County councillor  asked for details at today’s Council meetings, the Warden and Mayor admitted, after several meetings, telephone calls,  that they still have zero details). Originally, we were told the washroom needed to be renovated and that would cost $1 million.

So what do you think the Springwater Park deal is:

  1. a multi-million $ real estate deal which benefits several levels of government which is falling apart like a cheap suit or
  2. the province is honestly addressing a $12,000,000,000 deficit, in $60,000 “chunks” at a time?

Delay, of  course, fatigues ethical community groups and risks the co-opting of others; dampens public emotion; decreases government transparency and allows ample time for SLAPP lawsuits to be filed.

Bearing in mind recent history with those in authority:

Do you think a 12 month moratorium would produce any additional benefits for either the (1) voters or (2) non-local corporate interests?

 


McDonald’s invented modern business format franchising via contract law

December 2, 2012

McDonald’s innovated in the use of litigation, also.

Excerpt:

Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation, SLAPP
…a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

See also

Source

McLibel case, McLibel website

Other industry thought-leaders have learned these lessons and adapted.

SLAPPed: How lawsuits hurt the environment in Big Bay Point, Ontario, Environmental Defence, July 2012.


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