Simcoe County’s farmland and forests MUST be included within Greenbelt protection.

April 30, 2015

Dr. John Bacher issues a blunt warning to Simcoe County.

John Bacher Coronation ParkFate of Dunlap Forest Warning to Simcoe County

Dr. John Bacher

From late February to early May of 2015 bulldozers, chain saws and chipping machines waged a brutal war on the David Dunlap Forest, removing fifty acres from the heart of what had been a 125 acre forest tract in the heart of Richmond Hill. This Richmond Hill chain saw massacre was a vivid warning to Simcoe County, of the need to place of its its identified agriculturally zoned lands and significant forests within the protection of the Greenbelt. The blight of forest destruction without such protection may come to Simcoe County soon.

The David Dunlap Forest like those of Simcoe County was created by the reforestation movement sparked by Edmund Zavitz. It was planted from 1939 to 1980 to counter the threats posed by spreading sands of desertification and the threats of flooding to Toronto from deforestation. At the same time the forest provided light pollution protection for the David Dunlap Observatory. It until seven years it was operated by the University of Toronto and was the location for major scientific breakthroughs, notably the discovery of black holes in distant galaxies.

The University of Toronto sold the Observatory to the Metrus development company. Metrus then went through a long process of official plan and zoning changes, to allow it to construct expensive homes next to a shrunken forest. This process was completed on January 16th, 2015, whereupon a plague of giant machines smashed up the trees, turning them into sawdust.

A very dedicated 60 year old ecological group, the Richmond Hill Naturalists, attempted to defend the David Dunlap Forest. It is considered Provincially Significant, since it is the only large upland forest between the Oak Ridges Moraine and the City of Toronto. However, such protection means that officious experts can testify at the Ontario Municipal Board, (OMB), that the destruction of forest can be justified if it is shown not to impact any “ecological function.”

The naturalists spent $500,000 in three hearings and one court case in their efforts to defend the David Dunlap Forest. Despite numerous experts on their behalf who explained that the cutting of almost half of a 125 acre forest block reduces such ecological functions as bird nesting and deer habitat, they lost every time. Now the naturalists are subject of a motion at the OMB that they must pay $200,000 for the expenses of the experts who justified the destruction of the David Dunlap Forest. They efforts to protect a provincially significant forest were disparaged at the OMB as being the basis of a “banana” or “ideological” appeal.

The chewing up of the David Dunlap Forest shows the need for the inclusion of all of the Provincially Significant Forests in Ontario, especially those of Simcoe County under extreme development pressure to be protected by the Greenbelt. The key provision is Policy 3.2.4. This states that for lands “within a key natural heritage feature” (ie. significant forest)…”Development or site alteration is not permitted.” Only such strong language can protect forests from assault by the absurd studies of supposed experts.

Like the lands of the Oak Ridges Moraine near the David Dunlap Forest, those of Simcoe County were ecologically restored. Unless put into the Greenbelt, they await a fate similar to the devastation of the Richmond Hill chipping massacre.

Dr. John Bacher, author of Two Billion Trees and Counting: The Legacy of Edmund Zavitz.

Danny Beaton John Bacher Stephen OgdenSite 41: Danny Beaton, Steve Ogden and John Bacher


First Nations stewards will have solved the Dump Site 41, Mega Quarry and now Springwater Park foolishness. It’s only a matter of time.

April 17, 2013

The Anishinabe mothers took action on April 1st to save the animals and land from exploitation. The MNR had been very clearly warned months previously this would happen if they continued to not consult First Nations on the use of this treaty disputed land.

We are the stewards of the land

Ask anyone involved in Dump Site 41 and the Mega Quarry who broke the issue. Ask especially the 18 retired farmers, Sunday school teachers and butter tart makers who were arrested on the most bogus of charges.

An early and interesting article by Erich Jacoby-Hawkins called First Nations protest can only help park situation draws the need for green space in the midst of what seems to be unchecked sprawl in Simcoe County:

This park is a unique gem where people can see the native wildlife living near or sometimes in our sprawling communities. With this area targeted for heavy growth in coming decades, that valuable link with nature only becomes more important.

Not particularly loving some of the paternalism but Erich’s heart is in the right place when he correctly points out the racism and lack of correct institutional response.

Now, once again, our downtrodden First Nations people are putting their own lives on hold to protect what is of value to us all. Park occupation may finally force the government to give a meaningful response to our community’s concerns.

I commend these bold women, because not only do I think they face arrest and conviction, they now must withstand the racist backlash I already see on news comment pages. No Johnny-come-latelies, Idle No More has enjoined this struggle from the start, hosting teach-ins and protests, and its members have now put forward their bodies as a last resort where sensible words have failed.

I hope that with the Site 41 and mega-quarry victories already on the board, together we can help nature score a hat trick.

Dump Site 41. Mega Quarry. Springwater Park.

  • You can count on it because they only get involved when they know they’ll win.

The penalties for losing for them are just too severe.

Thoughtful Ontarians trust Dale Goldhawk and Dale backs the Springwater Park aboriginal protest

April 5, 2013

Canada’s wealth comes from the land. Degrading the land’s ancient stewards, poisons everyone’s future.


Cheryl Browne writes in today’s Barrie Examiner. Dale Goldhawk backs Springwater Park protestpdf

Two First Nations women moved into the log cabin nestled amongst the pines five days ago and have settled in comfortably for the time being.

“We’re not leaving until this is done,” said Patricia Watts, sitting in a chair beside the warm wood stove.

“Until there is some form of memorandum of understanding with our leaders, we’ll stay,” echoed her roommate, Elizabeth Brass Elson.

Camping out as a peaceful but powerful means of insisting on treaty rights.

On Wednesday, the women welcomed an old ally, Dale Goldhawk of AM740 Zoomer Radio, who protested alongside Watts and Brass Elson in 2009 during their fight to save the natural aquifer under the proposed Site 41 landfill.

They recorded a quiet interview for his Goldhawk Fights Back radio show, and further taping of the episode will continue at the park between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday.

“He’s got such a big following – so many people listen to him – we need to hear their voices now,” said Brass Elson.

And about the politicians that Dale would like to talk to?:

Sitting in the log cabin with the women on Friday, Les Stewart of Springwater Park Citizen’s Coalition said he’s invited all local politicians.

“(Simcoe-Grey MPP) Jim Wilson said he’s coming, but I’m not sure who else is going to come,” Stewart said.

Brass Elson added, “They should come and listen to the people who are paying their salaries.”

See you on Saturday.

Stopping Dump Site 41 should be commemorated officially and permanently by our governments

March 8, 2013

Springwater Park would be an excellent location if the County of Simcoe continues to refuse to recognize the value of volunteerism.

Danny Beaton John Bacher

Danny Beaton, Steve Ogden, John Bacher in Bradford. (l to r)

In this April 10, 2010 Bradford Time article by Miriam King, Danny Beaton’s contribution is singled out: Danny Beaton recognized for role in protecting water

Back in 2008, Danny Beaton, a Turtle Clan Mohawk of Grand River, came to Bradford. He and 2 companions were walking from Tiny Township to Queen’s Park, to draw attention to a proposed dumpsite, “Site 41.”

There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

The Site 41 Landfill caught the attention of the country, and environmentalists everywhere, and the protest grew. Beaton was one of the citizens involved in a peaceful blockade of the site – and was arrested, and briefly, jailed for his protest.

That protest, and those arrests, turned the tide at the County of Simcoe – and last year, County Councillors voted to abandon plans to construct a landfill site on the land.

Now Beaton has been honoured for his 2008 “Walk for Water.” He was one of 14 Canadians recognized at the 17th annual National Aboriginal Achievement Awards on March 26 in Regina, receiving an Environment & Natural Resources award for more than 20 years of “defending and protecting Mother Earth from environmental destruction.”

Beaton has a long history of working to protect aboriginal communities from environmental destruction. In 1992, he received the Governor General’s Medal for his efforts, which including defending the caribou herds in Alaska, the sacred lands of the Seminole in Florida, and working with indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest.

These matters unfold on their own timetable.

Goldhawk Fights Back radio recording about the Springwater Park closing, Feb 25th

February 25, 2013

Goldhawk Fights Back

For those that missed the live radio broadcast this Monday in the GTA, southwestern and central Ontario, here it is.

Goldhawk podcast 1

Click here to go to the page and CLICK on the left of little bar.


Right here: click on the triangle to play the radio recording.

Goldhawk podcast triangleTranscript Index

Time (minute:second) & Issue

  • 01:02 close Springwater Park, public consultations?
  • 01:30 message to Dale from Simcoe County, operating park, minor expense in comparision
  • 02:45 $1 million capital, a bitter pill to swallow, little community input
  • 04:53 caller: many people use Springwater Park
  • 06:35: 107 years old, last animal sanctuary in park system, animals taken care of since 1930s
  • 08:18 province trying to become barrier-free by 2025 versus no snow removal means no one in a wheelchair can visit park
  • 09:10 61% of parks are non-operating, only 0.6% parks are in the south (Springwater very rare)
  • 09:40 mega-developments, 1,100 acres of provincial crown land, wastewater treatment plant 300 metres south of park, effluent discharged into Minesing Wetlands (internationally recognized wetland)
  • 13:40 Lee-Anne from Minesing: park constantly busy, seems operated to fail, haven’t seen anything done to turnaround the park, safe, peaceful
  • 17:20 no volunteer or auxiliary group to help park, public had no idea park was in trouble
  • 18:19 Lisa from Barrie: capital for animal enclosures ?
  • 21:07 Sandy from Barrie: Barrie is rapidly growing but no park promotion seen, need to increase awareness
  • 23:02 George from Orangeville: park should stay, progressive politicians see the park as an economic development tool, the “High Park of Barrie”
  • 27:05 Romaine from Barrie: love Springwater Park, able to afford it during the Great Depression, $70,000 operating shortfall
  • 29:40 very little detail in financial results, closely held information, concerns by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario that there aren’t enough resources to manage parks properly (v. real estate value)
  • 30:50 Margot from Barrie: 3 washrooms (not 1), heard 8 years ago park was on chopping block, no advertising, no staff collecting fees (this weekend)
  • 32:45 no fines given for pass violations in 5 years
  • 33:00 Christina from Barrie: very upset, has known Springwater Park since 1976

Goldhawk Fights Back against the Springwater Provincial Park closing, Version 2

February 23, 2013

Tune in Mon February 25th, 12:15 to 12:45 and hear Les Stewart and the SPCC work with Dale Goldhawk.


Wanzel Les Stewart

Dale Goldhawk

Let’s help the Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition send a message to the Ministry of Natural Resources to save our 107 year old park and cenotaph.

Listen and call in on Monday because Goldhawk gets results!!

Call 416 360-0740 or 866 740-4740

Goldhawk Fights Back radio recording about the Springwater Provincial Park closing near Barrie, Ontario

February 1, 2013

Goldhawk Fights Back

For those that missed the live radio broadcast this Wednesday in the GTA, southwestern and central Ontario, here it is.

Goldhawk podcast 1

Click here to go to the page and CLICK on the left of little bar.

Goldhawk podcast 3

Right here: click on the triangle to play the radio recording.

Goldhawk podcast triangle

Transcript Index

Time (minute:second) & Issue

  • 00:25 Simcoe County, Dumpsite 41
  • 01:00 Springwater Park: 107 years old, last animal sanctuary in park system, nationally-registered Vespra Boys cenotaph, 13 km of cross-country ski trails, 1.5 km of show shoeing trails
  • 01:30 park is well-used (especially in winter), close to Barrie, a quickly-growing city
  • 02:27 honour system for payment does not work, automatic payment gate has been broken for 4 years
  • 03:17 consequences of closing park: trails, veterans, animals
  • 03:43 animal sanctuary: Furley the black bear, Chrissy the white wolf, enclosures could be more modern
  • 04:43 say they need $1 million in capital, MNR only spent $1,500 in 2008, designed to fail?
  • 05:45 spend pennies on outdoor activity or big $ on acute health care, duty to permanently protect the park, 3 of 10 affected parks have a deal
  • 09:13 can’t recall a provincial park being closed in 45 years of being a journalist
  • 10:12 MNR promises they won’t sell the land for development, requirement to consult with First Nations, maintain parks for future generations
  • 16:20 Springwater Township and Simcoe County: +$400 million accumulated surplus, the lungs of Ontario, could create a new “High Park”
  • 18:30 CALLER 1 is Gerry from Toronto
  • 19:40 $230 to 240,000 in total annual expenses, God is in the details
  • 20:09 CALLER 2 is Aida from Mississauga: horse riding, picnics, Mabel Wattie, too precious to lose
  • 21:45 Midhurst Forest Station established in 1922, only took 50 years to clear-cut county, turn around environmental destruction, blowsand, staffing on weekends
  • 24:19 CALLER 3 is Mel from Coldwater: since 1858, educational value, museum and park, planted trees in 1967, growth in Barrie, local wildlife education, ridiculous, county surplus
  • 26:03 Simcoe County: staff report due on Feb 14th, 31,000 acres of forests, best forestry program in Ontario
  • 27:35 Midhurst Secondary Plan: wastewater treatment plant is planned to be immediately south of park
  • 27:52 CALLER 4 is Norm from Mississauga: example of northern provincial park being converted to municipal park, Springwater was a municipal park from 1922 to 1957
  • 29:12 CALLER 5 is Diane from London: Pickering airport lands, Dr. John Bacher, Dumpsite 41, network with existing groups
  • 30.59 Ask for the Minister of Natural Resources to take a closer look at the numbers
  • 31:42 CALLER 6 is Brenda from Barrie: a travesty, fast-growing Barrie, next steps?, report research findings to community, work with groups (faith, service, etc.), set up a foundation to assist Township and County: retain, restore and renew (if given time)
  • 33:38 Dale promised to call county warden to talk about Springwater Park

Click here to download a pdf of the Transcript Index.

Thanks Dale,  Mary and AM740 Zoomer radio.

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