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).



Bacher knows his trees, says Elder Danny Beaton, Turtle Clan, Mohawk Nation

April 15, 2017

Dr. John Bacher is an award-winning environmental author, speaker and consultant.

Life long resident and environmentalist Dr. John Bacher investigates the deforestation devastation, which occurred in Centennial Park, St. Catherines, Ontario. Photo credit: Daniel Nardone

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.

Dr. John Bacher (r) received the Ontario Professional Foresters Association’s Edmund Zavitz Award “in recognition of significant contribution to forest conservation in Ontario”, from Executive Director, David Milton, May 2014.

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.


A petition to assist Elder Danny Beaton, Mohawk Turtle Clan

April 5, 2017

For over 3 decades, an outstanding award-winning environmentalist.

If you’d like to help a key person in the successes of Site 41, MegaQuarry and Springwater Park,

please sign the petition here.

Elder Danny Beaton brings teachings and goodwill to Ontario Lieutenant Governor General’s reception.

March 30, 2017

A Queen’s Park reception was held on February 27, 2017 to honour the great work that the Rotary HIP (Honouring Indigenous People)  Program does.

Ontario Lieutenant Governor General Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Elder Danny Beaton Mohawk Turtle Clan

HIP is a charity that educates Canadians about indigenous issues and assists schools in First Nations communities.

Elder Danny Beaton.


Chief Leo Friday of Kashechewan First Nation.


Garry Glowacki, director of The Bridge Prison Ministry, LGG Dowdeswell, Elder Beaton, Chief Friday, John Andras HIP board and Gerald Lue HIP.


Elder Danny Beaton.

Photos by Michael Hudson

Respected first nations elder evicted from home and office after 28 years of Toronto residency

February 26, 2017

Thirty day, only 30 days notice given to internationally-honoured Mohawk elder, Danny Beaton to vacate his home.


Elder Danny Beaton (r) with author

The eviction notice:


A troubling eviction process which raises the issue of race.

Danny’s awards:


Elder Beaton continues to be a valued advisor to the Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition.


February 6, 2017


Latest First Nations Drum article:

Children of Attawapiskat, Elder Danny Beaton
In Memory of Alicja Rozanska

Photographs from the Sacred Fire, Parliament of the World’s Religions, October 15 – 19

October 30, 2015

Parliament of World’s Religions, Salt Lake City, Utah, October 15 – 19, 2015

Steve Rohrbach 1

Danny Beaton Mohawk Turtle Clan, was invited to help with the Sacred Fire.

Steve Rohrbach 2

Images graciously shared by Steve Rohrbach.

Steve Rohrbach 3

A focus on Mother Earth and her protection.

Steve Rohrbach 4

Representatives from over 500 countries.

Steve Rohrbach 5

An honour to assist.

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