Province Proposes to Rescue Huronia Through Greenbelt Expansion article by Dr. John Bacher and Sierra Club Ontario

January 4, 2018

Another in a series of interesting article written by Dr. John Bacher. Note the implications of a greenbelt for the Nottawasaga River.

Sierra Club Ontario
January 3, 2018

Province Proposes to Rescue Huronia Through Greenbelt Expansion
Yvonne Ho’s blog

20180103 map“Protecting Water for Future Generations” warns that increased storm water discharges created by urbanization “adds sediment to streams that can negatively impact fish and other aquatic species” and also “increase water temperature, affecting the survival of fish species such as brook trout that need cold water”. It stresses that Brook Trout will not survive in warmer water created through the ecological degradation associated with urbanization.

Fighting hard to protect local waters
The Mohawk elder of the Turtle Clan Danny Beaton has spent much of his recent life in defending what he terms the Peacemaker’s World. It is the sacred landscape which nurtured the founder of the League of Peace, the Peacemaker. Usually called Huronia, in memory of the people whose remarkable leader founded the League, it is dominated by the watershed of the Nottawasaga River.

The cold water Nottawasaga fed by the aquifers that provide the world’s cleanest waters, support a thriving population of Brook Trout. It is a key ecological indicator species for most of southern Ontario. This species vanishes when watersheds become subjected to urbanization. The Nottawasaga future as a healthy cold water fishery may be ensured by a proposed expansion to the Greenbelt now undergoing a 90 day public consultation.

Beaton went to prison for three days as a consequence of his leadership in a nonviolent blockade that stopped an an attempt to excavate a garbage dump known as Dump Site 41 (link is external)on top of a critical aquifer from which the world’s purest water flows. The proposed dump near Elmvale, was close to the largest Huron settlement recorded by archaeologists.

Beaton also played a significant role in a year long occupation of Springwater Provincial Park (link is external), a former tree nursery, which was a cradle for ecological restoration in Huronia. Its surging spring waters in the past provided an important staging area for the recovery of a once endangered species, the Trumpeter Swan.

20180103 swannPhoto of Trumpeter Swan

We were able to view some of the spectacular nature of the threatened landscape following the end of a five day march from Toronto to the site of the proposed Dufferin County mega quarry. (link is external) A leader called Smiling Yogi, took us to a White Cedar shaded Brook Trout stream through which was threatened with de-watering by the quarry. We were awed to see Brook Trout leap through the stream’s sparkling fast running cold waters, laced with riffles, runs and pools.

New Greenbelt policy proposal: “Protecting Water for Future Generations”
Protecting these waters is the key focus of a discussion document by the provincial government. It is termed “Protecting water for future generations (link is external).” As summarized by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Honourable Bill Mauro, the discussion paper provides “scientific, technical and land use planning analysis” of the “greatest concentration of water features associated with urban growth.”

“Protecting Water for Future Generations” has a good summary of how sprawl threatens southern Ontario waters. It notes that, “Urbanization threatens the longtime health of hydrological systems throughout the region. Urban development impacts water resources in several ways. Water cannot flow through hard and impermeable surfaces such as roads, buildings and other paved or concrete areas and often collections as surface runoff in drains and storm sewers. As a result, more water flows directly into streams and lakes, and less water seeps into the soil to recharge aquifers for drinking water and support ecological processes.”

One of the important ecological processes are to supply the groundwater that feeds cold water streams. They frequently at seepage points, are lined with watercress. Diverse insect populations, most notably Stone flies, Walter Penny’s, Mayfly and Caddisfly, also thrive in cold water stream environments.

“Protecting Water” warns that increased storm water discharges created by urbanization “adds sediment to streams that can negatively impact fish and other aquatic species” and also “increase water temperature, affecting the survival of fish species such as brook trout that need cold water.” It stresses that Brook Trout “Will not survive in warmer water” created through the ecological degradation associated with urbanization.

Five of the seven areas proposed for Greenbelt expansion are within Huronia, in the regional governments known as Dufferin and Simcoe Counties. Two are on the fringes of Huronia. One of these, the Escarpment Area Moraines, the discussion paper explains, “provide base flow to streams flowing from the Niagara Escarpment. They are critical for groundwater that supplies communities” such as Shelburne, Organgeville, Fergus and Guelph with drinking water. Another is the Oro Moraine, located west of Orillia and Lake Couchiching. “Protecting Water” notes that it is “composed primarily of highly permeable sand and gravel and is a significant groundwater recharge area.”

Three of the proposed Greenbelt expansion areas are in the heart of Huronia. One is called the Nottawasaga River Corridor. Among the critical goals of these expansions is to protect the Minesing Wetlands, an important wildlife refuge for herons, Trumpeter Swans, Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly and the endangered Sturgeon from polluted storm water from Midhurst.

Middle Reaches of the Nottawasaga River

Middle Reaches of the Nottawasaga River

Photo of Nottawasaga River obtained from NVCA website. (link is external)

What can you do:
It is remarkably easy to read the snappy to the point discussion paper and to make comments in time for the March 7, 2018 deadline. Both the discussion paper and a feedback form are on the website of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Comments can also be made through the registry of the Environmental Bill of Rights (link is external). Comments can also be made through email to (link sends e-mail).

This article was written by Dr. John Bacher, Greenbelt Campaign leader at Sierra Club Ontario, and a member of the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society (PALS) (link is external).
Map showing geographic location of Huronia was obtained from Ontario Nature website (link is external).



“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??


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


Margaret Atwood talks about the “life-wrecking” Midhurst Secondary sprawl plan.

July 22, 2014

A question and answer video with Margaret Atwood in support of the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association.

Published on 21 Jul 2014
Margaret Atwood speaks frankly about why supporting Midhurst is not just about ‘development’ but about taking a stand for farmland, shared water resources and keeping government accountable and transparent. “This is a life-wrecking event”.

Transcript to follow…

SourceSave Midhurst Village

How to contact Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Posted on

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 (

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 and

Margaret Atwood coming to Midhurst on Sunday June 22nd

May 24, 2014

A special visit announcement by AWARE Simcoe to draw attention to the negative affects of unchecked urban sprawl.

Dirt margaret


from the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association

Author Margaret Atwood is fulfilling her promise to come to Midhurst if the number of people signing the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Petition reaches 5,000. That happened in March and now arrangements have been finalized: Atwood will speak in Midhurst on Sunday, June 22 12-3 pm at a Celebration of Rural Living.

Tickets are on sale now for this special event coordinated by the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association that will highlight the importance of rural communities and the resources they protect (foodlands, fresh water and natural heritage).

Tickets are limited, so purchase yours now. ONLY $20! Buy tickets online

Volunteer Drive Meeting:

Sunday, May 25 – 7 pm Midhurst Community Hall (74 Doran Rd.)

The MRA needs you. On June 22nd, they require at least 30 volunteers for a variety of tasks including, but not limited to: parking attendants, BBQ attendants, greeters, cashiers. They also need volunteers to distribute posters ahead of the event. A volunteer drive is being held Sunday night – sign up, get more information about the event and engage with the MRA executive about current and future initiatives.

If you can’t attend, but would still like to volunteer, email your name and contact info and someone from their Events team will get in touch with you. Email Events Team


Speakers – Begins at 12:30

Emcee – AM 740’s Dale Goldhawk

Supporting Speakers:

  • Shirley Boxem, Food and Water First – “The Importance of Farmland Preservation”
  • David Donnelly, Donnelly Law – “Learning from Mistakes and Building a Better Future for Ontario”
  • Sandy Buxton, Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association – “The Midhurst Story”

Keynote Address: Margaret Atwood – “Why Community Matters and Her Journey into Getting Involved”

So it’s blatant open season on rural Ontario communities then?: Annexation/destruction via Midhurst Secondary Plan.

May 1, 2014

Goodbye to an independent Township of Springwater, Elmvale and the old Vespra and Flos townships. Hello to the latest Barrie land annexation because it is open season on vulnerable Ontario agricultural communities.

Annexation map 2

It’s called the Midhurst Secondary Plan but its very name is a lie.

As all the other Ontario rural municipality staff and leaders know, it’s a precedent-setting, naked shift of power from rural to urban use that makes all provincial institutional stakeholders into lapdogs.

Problems are solved at the price of independence and a rural way of life if The Regional Municipality of Barrie is formed.

Background: The Harris government amalgamated two great agricultural townships to form Springwater: Vespra in the south (Barrie to Horseshoe Valley Road) and Flos (north of Vespra to include Elmvale). These were self-sustainig and prosperous communities.

County in 1954


Barrie was a little village in 1812 when the Penetanguishene Road was surveyed.

Penetanguishene Road

The last significant northern Barrie annexation required a bald-faced, shocking display of raw political power by the Davis government (Barrie-Vespra Annexation Act).

I was wrong in April 2012 when I suggested a war was been declared on Midhurst:

the spoils of this war are 100% of the former Vespra and Flos lands.

Growth is inevitable. We know that better than anyone. But really: listening to the soulless, BMW-heavy OMB and their pharisees you’d be tricked into thinking agriculture is  a coarse, less sophisticated, stupid 2nd rate industry. That the “city mice” have pulled a fast one.

Premier Kathleen Wynne: please, we’re all adults here. I ask you to exercise your authority, stop the behind-closed-door OMB deals,  and keep the dialogue in the public sphere where it belongs. With our First Nations friends, we’ve been at this agri-business and community work for several thousands of years. We’ve not only built a community of communities but in some tough conditions, attracted and nurtured winners in every field: agronomy, law, engineering, medicine, service, etc. Everyone deserves to be respected, to engage in a vigorous, open exchange of ideas about the future of our communities, to know that the fight isn’t fixed.

Wouldn’t you agree, premier?

What? The degradation of the Minesing Wetlands will NOT be part of the Midhurst Secondary Plan environmental sprawl study?

April 15, 2014

Incredibly but nonetheless consistently, the law of gravity is being suspended to make the “Geranium Rule” whole.

Bill French, after outlining the environmental importance of the Minesing Wetlands in Minesing Wetlands: What are we thinking?, pdf goes on making more sense:

Simple question. How can any Environmental Assessment Study (EA) not include the impact on this sensitive system? Currently the Midhurst EA 3 and 4 study is to look only at the effluent discharge impact on Willow Creek. Hello! The Willow Creek drains into the Minesing Wetlands which connects to the Nottawasaga River which discharges at Wasaga Beach and into Georgian Bay. Why do these new EA studies not include everything that ultimately will be negatively affected by the discharge of two million litres a day?

And why is Springwater Township caving in to the legal bullies at the Ontario Municipal Board (ie. the developers demand zoning before the EAs are done so sue by going to OMB)?

The township is at a pivot point. Get involved and protect the natural habitat of the many species found in the Minesing Wetlands. Once it is gone, there will be no turning back. Find out who is running for the various positions on council and ask them the challenging questions. It is not too late to reverse the dangerous course that this and the last council have initiated.

The best movie I’ve ever seen about litigation is A Civil Action.

Find out which new township politicians have the knowledge, experience, and character to use it properly; to protect your “community of communities” rather than the outsiders.

“Your Honour, you are asking these people to create a fiction that will stand for the truth but won’t be the truth.”


Posted on

A major head waters of the Minesing Wetlands (see RAMSAR Conventionis in Springwater Park.

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