Tree-seed collection going to private sector, Anne Learn Sharpe

September 25, 2017

Another forestry cultural jewel is being closed down.

The Barrie Examiner
September 22, 2017

Tree-seed collection going to private sector
Anne Learn Sharpe
Opinion

After 94 years, our provincial government is closing the doors of the Ontario Tree Seed Facility. Why now?

When the Tree Seed Plant was opened in 1923, it was a key part of an ambitious reforestation project in Ontario. The 19th-century lumber industry left acres of stumps and slash that farmers burned to plant crops. With the trees gone, water sources disappeared, soil turned to blow-sand, easily eroded by wind and rain.

A group of far-sighted foresters, politicians, civil servants and farmers pushed forward a long-term tree planting agenda that repaired the devastation and resulted in the Ontario Tree Seed Plant, the Midhurst Tree Nursery, Simcoe County Forests and the planting of two billion trees in Ontario. That’s quite a legacy.

But the challenges that faced those conservationists are still with us. Deforestation continues, due to development pressures and some agricultural practices. Climate change is escalating. With their capacity to store carbon as well as water and to moderate temperature, trees and forests are essential mitigators of climate change.

In 2018, the Ontario government plans to leave tree-seed collection to the private sector. If there is a business plan in place for this transfer, it hasn’t yet been made public.

Tree-seed collection is not a high-profit enterprise. A network of collectors from across the province must be trained to find quality seeds from healthy trees. At the Ontario Tree Seed Facility, exact temperature, humidity and timing must be maintained in each of the stages of processing seeds. Some of the equipment is industrial seed processing machinery and some has been adapted by longtime employees over many years.

This kind of experience can’t be transferred in a year.

Local tree nurseries are concerned about the continuity and quality of their seed supply and storage capacity to compensate for lean years. They have good reason. Will the private sector be able to provide the same consistent and professional service? Is that possible in a for-profit scenario?

Municipal officials were surprised by the closure announcement; the community and stakeholders were not consulted.

Have the impacts been assessed and a transition plan formulated? Have expanded uses for the facility been explored? And what will happen to the beautiful grounds planted with specimen native trees and shrubs?

The Ontario Tree Seed Facility is a positive legacy from politicians who acted for the long-term public good. Its closure would mark an abandonment of those principles.

Anne Learn Sharpe

Is there any provincial politician with ties to Simcoe County that cares two-hoots about trees?

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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.


Who is Alex Nuttall’s right hand man in Midhurst?

December 9, 2013

From this picture at least, it is David Strachan, president of the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association.

Strachan Nuttall

David Strachan, Alex Nuttall, Sandy Buxton and Aidan Grove-White (left to right)

Other individuals quoted in AWARE Simcoe’s coverage, Growth will Really Pay for Growth: Nuttall,  were:

  • Mr. Jack Hanna, current Ward 5 councillor (Midhurst), Township of Springwater,
  • Mr. Aidan Grove-White, Environmental Defence Canada,
  • Ms. Sandy Buxton, Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association, and
  • Mr. Patrick Brown MP Barrie.

Organizations who attended: North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance, Angus Ratepayers’ Association and Nottawasaga Steelheaders.

Cross-posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca.


Are the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association and Environmental Defence either incompetent or co-opted financially as activists?

December 7, 2013

Was today’s event a bought-and-paid-for publicity stunt to increase the next Conservative candidate’s profile in new Barrie-Oro-Springwater (Midhurst) riding with the first federal election being in Oct 2015?

MRA Nuttall Strachan1

Did money donated to the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association, MRA and Environmental Defence Canada, EDC go toward the cost of this event or was the money from another source? Are either or both of them shills for a political party that represents pro-development or can any interest group buy their brand?

I recall the MRA accusing the Township of Springwater for calling  short notice and scheduling information sessions at unbelievably difficult times for citizens to attend. They then said their were “extensive good faith consultations”. I wonder who paid for the show today because my impression from the MRA was that was never enough money to do even a half-assed defence of Midhurst.

1. Extremely Short Notice: I received the bulk email from the MRA last night 11:18 pm (Dec 6th). That would have given me 13 hours to re-arrange my Saturday afternoon. Oddly, the  EDC media advisory also had a very short media fuse as well: out  Dec 6th.

And, to boot, the ED communique mentioned a federal MP (Mr. Patrick Brown Barrie) would be attending although(1) Midhurst is in the Simcoe-Grey riding (Hon. Dr. Kellie Leitch MP) and (2) growth and sprawl are a provincial not a federal jurisdiction. Shouldn’t Jim Wilson MPP Simcoe-Grey who is the 2nd most powerful Conservative in the Hudak caucus (or even Rod Jackson), be explaining growth issues to his own constituents?

I would have gone to it because I would have loved to ask some questions of David Strachan, president of the Midhurst Ratepayers’, Alex Nuttall, City of Barrie Ward 10 councillor (farthest south and east ward in Barrie, rumoured MP hopeful) and EDC. I believe I am a member in good standing and have contributed financially to both the MRA and EDC.

2. Missing Article: In fact, I wrote the only article about the Midhurst Secondary Plan for EDC at the request of their Claire Malcolmson. It was called Midhurst Secondary Plan: Village to grow 10 times? and was published on their weblog on February 13, 2012. When I tried clicking through on the URL that I had listed as a pdf this is the image that came up:

ED Search1

So as an author I no longer have access to the article? I also tried searching ED’s blog with the title and my name, but no luck.

Click here for a pdf copy of the article or here for a post that I wrote called: Land speculation and other confidence games have always relied on human weakness., iLoveMidhurst.ca, February 14, 2012.

David Donnelly

3. ED’s legal counsel is listed as David Donnelly.

He was Executive Director of Environmental Defence Canada from 1988 to 1996 in addition to having been  very involved in the Big Bay Point SLAPP situation as well as many ongoing First Nations issues.

The only federal issue that I am aware of that links Mrs. Brown, Strachan and Donnelly are the ladies at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi

Cross-posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca.


Who is responsible for the sandblasting, damage and repair of the circa 1929 Vespra Boys cenotaph at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi?

October 15, 2013

I took these photographs on Friday October 11, 2013. This monument had never been sand blasted in its 84 year history.

Back 34 cropped

Note the broken corner of the cairn main pedestal at the front right.

The Vespra Boys is made up of three very different materials: granite field stones, concrete mortar and marble.

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Another view with the broken urn base at the left back. The MNR-owned heritage-designated building in the back is the original park office.

Each material has it’s own much different properties such as porosity, hardness, strength, etc.

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Detail of broken urn base.

One of the key heritage preservation principles is to try to do no harm. Start with the mildest, least destructive means to the stated, justifiable end.

Back marble sign

Note how the years of patina soak so deeply in the mortar. To get a consistent “new look” the mortar would have to be blasted up to one inch deep.

I was told that the Ministry of Natural Resources considers any of their buildings that are over 50 years old to be “heritage” and extreme caution must be taken. I do not know if those standards apply to community cultural assets that they have legal stewardship for.

Face marble no relief

Front: The softest material (white marble) is easily destroyed with silica sand. The text is almost unreadable now. The contrast between the 3 media is lost. Many of the stones have horizontal etch marks now. Note how the light orange, protective patina has been destroyed. When marble is polished it changes the physical properties of its surface. By sand lasting the raised and relief areas, the contrast is lost. The sharpness of the relief lettering is much less.

Over the years, objects as well as people acquire character. Patina is a much-valued characteristic by many people that appreciate things that have endured. In stone, sand blasting destroys this highly-prized protective layer; the earned look and feel of a well-worn artifact. The cold-hard facts are that etched monuments will likely have more structural problems in the future than if it were more gently treated. The Ontario Heritage Trust talks of The Conservation Cycle.

NICMM 3

The before picture: In 2013, Major John R. Fisher took these photographs in support of the registration to the Department of Defence of the Vespra Boys cairn. There are less than 6,700 of these nationally-registered war memorials in Canada in 2013. It’s magnificent as it was and precisely how the builders envisioned it in 1929, I believe. Note the irregular patina that is appropriate for its age and nature and the sharpness of the relief edges.

Sand blasting is known to radically alter the appearance, life and strength of materials. it is the most aggressive form of abrasive cleaning and is usually the last method used.

Front cross

The after picture: The field stone/mortar joints have been opened up for water to freeze and thaw. There are only surface cracks evident over the whole monument. There is no safety issue. The symbol may indicate the builders’ were concerned in pleasing an entity other then their own ego.

Silica sand appears to be the material used against the Vespra Boys centotaph. There are chips of mortar and stone all over the grass.

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There are different grades of silica sand available. The most destructive are the cheapest. There are bits and pieces of stones, mortar and sand 2 to 3 metres away from the cairn.

Sand blasting is classified as a form of abrasive blasting.

Abrasive blasting is the operation of forcibly propelling a stream of abrasive material against a surface under high pressure to smooth a rough surface, roughen a smooth surface, shape a surface, or remove surface contaminants. A pressurized fluid, typically air, or a centrifugal wheel is used to propel the blasting material (often called the media). The first abrasive blasting process was patented by Benjamin Chew Tilghman on 18 October 1870.

There are several variants of the process, such as bead blasting, sand blasting, sodablasting, and shot blasting.

Background: At a meeting at the site arranged by Ontario Parks Zone Manager Mr. Ken Lacroix this summer, I opposed the use of chemicals being applied and then having it power blasted with high pressure water. This elicited a very strong reaction by a representative of Ian Taylor’s, Friends of Springwater Park. I was not informed of any plans to alter the monument although I take Minister David Orazietti at his word when he said he appreciates my interest in the park.

Mr. Taylor appears to be taking credit for this “restoration” project on his Facebook page (see Sept 29th). He also thanks his good friends Patrick Brown Barrie MP, Ms. Nancy Bigelow, Ken Lacroix, Park Superintendent Scott Thomas,  Monument Restoration Ltd., Barrie Legion 147 and Elmvale Legion 262.

CFB Borden, the Department of National Defence, Springwater Township and City Barrie Heritage Committees, Camp Nibi grandmothers/occupiers or the families of the 18 WWI dead appear not to have been consulted, accommodated or included in his thanks.

I have asked the Ministry of Natural Resources to secure the site and not allow any further work until more is known about some may consider a pre-meditated assault on heritage on what is claimed to be protected Ontario land.


An Anishinaabe tipi now graces Springwater Park – Camp Nibi in Midhurst.

August 6, 2013

A beautiful addition to the abandoned Ontario Parks lands was built on August 4, 2013.

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A perfect compliment to the existing spiritual practices dwellings:  (l to r) sweat lodge and teaching lodge.

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Nestled just past the Vespra Boys cenotaph.

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Straight through the cathedral of pines, at the bottom of the hill entrance.

Tipi through trees nibi

Come and have your children or grandchildren’s photograph taken at this special place. Lots of families did just that this weekend!

Also, feel free to express your opinion about why aboriginal treaty rights to practice their spiritual practices should not be interfered with or bitched about.

  1. Premier of Ontario,
  2. MNR Minister and staff,
  3. County Provincial Members of Parliament,
  4. Mr. Patrick Brown and Hon. Kellie Leitch, MP, and
  5. Mr. Ian Taylor 

FYI: To see Mr. Ian Taylor‘s response to this post, click here and go to Comment 9 or see below:

“I hope an environmental assesment was made before any of these structures where built! it’s called respect for Mother Earth and is the law!
Thank you.”


Who are the high-profile supporters of Ian Taylor and his Friends of Springwater Park group?

August 2, 2013

Raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in money requires very heavy support from friends in high places.

Ian Brown Nuttall

Patrick Brown, MP Barrie, Mr. Taylor and Alex Nuttall, Barrie Councillor

Ian  Brown Nuttall

Mr. Taylor, Patrick Brown, MP Barrie, Jack Garner and Alex Nuttall, Barrie Councillor

Let Brown FOSP

Patrick Brown, MPP Barrie, Letter of support

Ian Jackson

Rod Jackson, MPP Barrie

Award Jackson FOSP

Rod Jackson, MPP Barrie, Commendation for fundraising excellence

Ian Lehman

Jeff Lehman, Mayor Barrie

Ian Wilson

Jim Wilson, MPP Simcoe-Grey

Jack Garner

Jack Garner, retired businessperson and politician.

Programs

Mr. Taylor’s most recent program to raise money.

Images supplied by Save our Springwater Provincial Park Facebook page.

rcmp-logo

Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Watch out for Charity Scams

This is just the first bit of advice from the RCMP on the white-collar crime subcategory called charity fraud:

  •  Be wary of appeals that tug at your heart strings, especially pleas involving current events.

Experienced public officials are aware their offices can be used to create criminogenic environments.


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