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.,, 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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


Nestled just past the Vespra Boys cenotaph.


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.


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

Images supplied by Save our Springwater Provincial Park Facebook page.


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.

National headline reads: Ojibway elder Beth Elson Leads in Defending Springwater Provincial Park

July 4, 2013

Springwater Park – Camp Nibi is the current cover story for a national newspaper called First Nations Drum.

Beth Krys les FF

Elizabeth is from Beausoleil First Nations near Midland, ON and a Director of AWARE Simoce. She was instrumental in stopping Dump Site 41 and the Mega Quarry. Author and photographer Danny Beaton has been on the SPCC advisory council from the beginning.

  • First Nations Drum is distributed at no charge into the + 650 bands across Canada each month.


Beth Elson Speaks out
We are strong minded women who are here to establish a place to come together to make our nations stronger by providing spiritual guidance and traditional role modeling to benefit all nations. The occupation is going great and the Ministry needs to open the gates and allow the disabled and our elders access to this place as well. We have been requesting the gates be opened for ceremonies and they refuse to open them. We are building a lodge later this week and putting a call out for fire keepers and campers.

We call the place-Springwater Park-Camp Nibi. We have taken over the lands of Springwater Provincial Park which was previously cared for by the Ministry of Natural Resources. It was a financial burden to the Provincial Government which no longer could afford to assume the responsibility for the park. Our objectives are to maintain the park and create a business for the First Nations and employment for our people. The First Nations has many unique and diverse programs that will be of benefit to the surrounding communities. Our unique connection to the land leads the way to inventive programs to inform and establish connection to the wildlife, forest, lands, water, and air. Our traditions and culture are to be shared and our knowledge is to be passed on so people can relate to Mother Earth and gain connection and respect. Our education and the education of the communities surrounding our territories will be enhanced by the unique relationship we have to discover in one another.

For a pdf copy of the entire article, click here.

Beth FND

Physical copies available (while they last) at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi or any native band office across Canada.

Copies hand-delivered to the offices of:

  • Mr. Patrick Brown MP Barrie,
  • Mr. Rod Jackson MPP Barrie,
  • Mr. Jeff Lehman Mayor, City of Barrie,
  • Mr. Jim Wilson, MPP Simcoe-Grey,
  • Hon. Dr. Kellie Leitch, MP Simcoe Grey,
  • Mr. Cal Patterson Warden, Simcoe County,
  • Ms. Linda Collins Mayor, Springwater Township,
  • Ms. Sandy McConkey Councillor, Springwater Township,
  • Mr. Jack Hanna Councillor, Springwater Township, and
  • Mr. Alex Nuttall Councillor, City of Barrie

And still not $1.00 of public money budgeted to support the best chance to keep Springwater Park out of the hands of developers.

A situation after 9 months that you would expect if regional politics serves only commercial interests. For details see George Stigler,  Regulatory capture. Crony capitalism, Family Compact.

Where did the money go that you donated to Ian Taylor’s group to “Save our Springwater” park?

May 12, 2013

From what I understand, the money collected to “Save Springwater Park” at places like Zehrs on Bayfield Street in Barrie…

fosp zehrs

…was deposited in a for-profit entity called Friends of Springwater Provincial Park.

No talk of amounts taken from take for expenses, that I can recall.

This is NOT a certified “Friends of Provincial Park” group like the Friends of Algonquin or Friends of Awenda are (see here). Presumably the Ministry of Natural Resources approves of Mr. Taylor’s use of the park’s name and Ontario Parks program to fund raise over these past +7 months or so.

FOSP logo

And then all of part of those funds are moved into another legal entity called “People for Parks Environmental Initiative” which is said to be not-for profit.

people for parksRod Jackson, MPP Barrie awarded Mr. Taylor a certificate of appreciation, specifically, for his fundraising acumen.

FOSP Rod Jackson

Mr. Taylor wrote a letter to the editor to the Barrie Examiner on April 8, 2012, called Does Closed Gates Mean Closed Minds?. Some of the 27 comments are listed below:

2. Ian Taylor
If you don’t support our group than please just go away and leave your negative comments and accusations to your self please. If you have something you wish to discuss than contact me and I would be more than happy to discuss with you what our group has done and is continuing to do.
Thank you

3. Kimberly Hopkins
When I spoke to Ken Lacroix from the MNR via email a few weeks ago to inquire about your intentions with the park, his response was, “The Friends of Springwater are not an official organized group with the Ministry – we have no agreement in place with them. There is currently no business plan in place for the Ministry to review from any organization and I am unaware of the … fundraising efforts.”If you have no affiliation with the park and there is no business plan in place for the park, where exactly is the fundraising money going? Will there be proper accounting and transparency this time (as opposed to the fundraising that you have already been doing under the table since October)? How much of this collected money will be spent on gas and windshield washer fluid, as it was last time?I would really like to support your group because I love Springwater PP, but sadly your continued lack of accountability, transparency and professionalism are a huge turn off for many.

4. Ian Taylor
I’m sorry you feel that way.

5. SM99987
That is probably why the MNR wanted nothing to do with them. Some of the Friends of Springwater Park are not so friendly.

6. Pops Eagles
*** UPDATED *** Change of Direction by this poster

Take your negativity elsewhere TROLL…

*** seems your comments sparked me to investigate further and possibly re-evaluate my opinion.

1. It is my conclusion, after asking members of FOSPP just how they plan to keep the park open, raise funds, man the gates, etc… and where is the Business Plan …. WOW, what a shock to find myself immediately REMOVED from posting. I am or WAS a supporter. The executive members of FOSPP (full of shite puppet pawns, imho) who are ruining it for the people who sincerely would like to keep the park OPEN. If by eliminating any negative comments, you IAN are saying essentially… if you disagree with us TOO BAD, give us your taxes anyway. WELL Sir, and I use that title with reserve… and SM99987, I apologize (even though I am the opposite end of the PUNK scale). Even us elderly can be blindsided by EMOTIONAL Trolls. I wish to see the park stay open BUT NEVER with this group any where near the CASH

7. SM99987
I am not intimidated by a group of uneducated punks.

8. Patrick_Doyle1

Did this group within the last week promote Patrick Brown for the FAQ MP of the year. I hope people understand that to become a non-for-profit you can’t lobby support from any politician.

I have been trying to understand this fight as the park is still a park. But I see you turned it into a political game with the recent endorsement on the facebook page for Patrick Brown.

I’m all for green space and this cause would have my full support if the province was selling the land but its not doing that. The park is still a park that everyone can now enjoy for free. As for the wildlife, this is why people walk into a park to search for them and see them in their natural habitat. So I don’t understand that fight either.

9. Ian Taylor
Friends of Springwater Provincial Park is not a non for profit!

10. Patrick_Doyle1
Here is the quote from the letter above. I’m going to guess it was you who wrote this article? If not you guys are not on the same page.

“friends of Springwater Provincial Park now have official Non for Profit
status under the name People for Parks Environmental Initiative.”

11. SM99987
They did promote Patrick Brown on their Facebook page. Then the admin of that page deleted it a few hours later.

Don’t expect an answer from these people. They don’t think they have to explain themselves to anybody.

12. Kimberly Hopkins
They delete a lot from their page. Anyone who asks too many questions or anyone who criticizes them at all will have their comments deleted. On a side note, it’s funny that now they are interested in working with other groups. They were bashing another group on facebook back in October, and when I questioned who the other group was, my comments were deleted. Ian commented on the Springwater Citizens coalition blog, attacking their involvement with Simcoe Aware and Idle No More, yet now he supports them? (He later deleted his comments of course). I guess they only want to play nice for the media.

13. Ian Taylor
I do not support Mr. Stewarts group or Idle No More I find your one sided comments insulting. Lets make sure we stay positive and move forward.
thank you

14. Patrick_Doyle1

I’m starting to see a scam here? First you say in this letter that you are now a non-for-profit , then you post to one of my post saying you are not a non-for-profit? Which one is it?

Maybe you are looking for a big pay check and see this as a way to do it? But you are not explaining yourself properly at all here on these boards. If you can’t get your facts in order between an article and the comment section how do you think you can operate a park with this type of inconsistency? Or does it come back to money again? Maybe you think you have enough support ( financially) to keep it open and have 100% volunteers to look after the park while you take home a pay check?

Sorry, I’m not seeing a guy that wants to save a park, I’m seeing a conservative who wants to have a bigger bank account.

This park is still a park whether or not its maintained by someone. I only see dollar signs from you in wanting this park to be operational.

15. Moment_In_Time
You do not support Les’s group for standing up for the same cause? Why not? You do not support Idle No More for also standing up for the same cause? Why not? You do not support or you are against? Which is it?

Now comments are closed,,, avoidance?

16. SM99987
They will tell you that you are negative and then they will tell you to “believe” haha

17. Ian Taylor
Is deleting not a good thing? If its against policy and procedure for a non for profit than we corrected the problem. We are all new to this and some things you must learn as you go. We learn from our mistakes and it makes us better at the end of the day.

18. SM99987
Friends of Springwater Park, how much money have you raised so far?

These upgrades are a significant amount of money.

20. SM99987
Where is the upfront money going to come from? You don’t think all these upgrades are going to be done for free? Are any of you in this Springwater Park group willing to put up your own houses or can you get the credit from your bank? Was this addressed in the business plan?

You are counting on volunteers to stand at a gate and run a store? How long will that last? Who is going to coordinate it? Is that person going to do it for free?

Forget the animals. It is a major cost.

If I was the MNR and you approached me with this plan, I would think you are not being realistic.

21. Ian Taylor
Please do your homework on our group before leaving such negatives comments.
Thank You.

22. Roger Duverson
sm99987 has some valid questions. Who is going to cover the up-front costs and how long will volunteers continue to run the store/gate for. This all sounds great but I don’t think its a realistic long term solution.

23. SM99987
They are legitimate questions. You have no idea who I am or who is reading here. Maybe I am related to Kathleen Wynne or maybe I am one of those at the MNR that makes recommendations whether we should even speak to you? You don’t know.

24. Ian Taylor
Exactly WE have no idea who you are so don’t expect answers to your questions. Lets try to be open, positive and honest.
That’s how you will get a response. Attacking a group is not helpful and quite frankly I have more important things to do, like fighting to keep this park operational for ALL to enjoy.
Thank You.

25. SM99987
This is not he letters to the editors. I don’t have to identify myself. Based on your answers, I have decided to lobby against your group having anything to do with running this park. You are unprofessional.

27. Roger Duverson
SM99987 is being realistic, more realistic than people who think volunteers will keep this park open to the standards we are used to.

sm99987 says “maybe I am one of those at the MNR that makes recommendations whether we should even speak to you”… if you are… I hope you decide not to speak to anyone until the occupation ceases.

FYI: To see Mr. Ian Taylor‘s response to this post, click here and go to Comment 5 or see below:

“Connect Deeply with Nature. Find Community. Know Thyself.”

NEWS ALERT – Jackson Makes Statement on Springwater Park Closure

April 11, 2013

(March 26, 2013) Today Barrie MPP Rod Jackson made a statement to the Legislature asking the Liberal Government to reconsider its decision to close Springwater Provincial Park citing its significance to the surrounding area and lack of community consultation.

Jackson called on Minister Orazietti to consult with the public and community leaders to come to a compromise that will allow the park to remain open while achieving cost-saving measures that are so desperately needed.

“There are no parks like Springwater anywhere near Barrie so it fulfills a unique niche, serving as a great wildlife education experience for children and adults alike, but also as a place for businesses to hold retreats and families to have reunions.”

Jackson emphasized the importance of the World War I cenotaph dedicated to the Vespra Boys within the park. “These local veterans fought for the rights and freedoms we enjoy today. Decisions affecting this memorial should not be made lightly.”

MPP for Simcoe-Grey, Jim Wilson, explained that countless residents and local councils are opposed to this closure and have worked tirelessly to find ways that would allow the park to remain open.

“The loss of Springwater Park means the loss of facilities; it means the loss of maintained cross country skiing and hiking trails; and it means the loss of the animal sanctuary,” added Wilson.

Jackson continued, “I was not even informed of Springwater Park’s closure until I read about it in our local newspapers. Cloak-and-dagger decision-making is endemic to this Government, and the residents in all of the surrounding communities have to live with the outcome.”

“I sincerely hope that the Minister reconsiders his decision to close Springwater Park and commits to community consultations that lead to an alternate solution,” concluded Jackson.


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