Do not be alarmed by simplification, complexity is often a device for claiming sophistication, or for evading simple truths.
― John Kenneth Galbraith
- Chinatown (1974 film)
Since 2000, Canada has accounted for a staggering 21% loss of the world’s forests.
Stephen Leahy writes in Canada is now the world’s leading ‘deforestation nation’:
The world’s last remaining forest wilderness is rapidly being lost — and much of this is taking place in Canada, not in Brazil or Indonesia where deforestation has so far made the headlines.
A new satellite study reveals that since 2000 more than 104 million hectares of forests — an area three times the size of Germany — have been destroyed or degraded.
“Every four seconds, an area of the size of a football (soccer) field is lost,” said Christoph Thies of Greenpeace International.
The extent of this forest loss, which is clearly visible in satellite images taken in 2000 and 2013, is “absolutely appalling” and has a global impact, Thies told IPS, because forests play a crucial in regulating the climate.
Forests are essential for our existence.
Trees, plants and all the creatures that make up a healthy forest ecosystem provide humanity with a range of vital services including storing and cleaning water, cleaning air, soaking up CO2 and producing oxygen, as well as being sources of food and wood. These “free” services are often irreplaceable and generally worth far more than the value of lumber or when converted to cattle pasture, said Sizer.
What are our municipal governments doing to maintain our forests?
Based on what Mayor Hughes disclosed, the majority of Simoce County councillors seem to share that view.
An article on AWARE News Network called Simcoe County wants $5,000 from AWARE Simcoe:
Simcoe County Council voted overwhelmingly today to recover $5,000 in court costs from AWARE Simcoe.
The case involved an application by the citizens’ group for a judicial review of a County decision to allow a developer to clearcut a portion of Beeton Woods. A judge awarded the costs after refusing to grant an injunction to prevent the cutting until the judicial review was heard. AWARE Simcoe then withdrew from the judicial review.
New Tecumseth Mayor Rick Milne told council that developer Tecumseth Estates is not planning to pursue the $27,000 in costs it was awarded against AWARE. The group has no money, he said. “Are we going to spend staff time and legal costs? I think we should just write it off.”
Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes disagreed. “AWARE’s integrity is at stake,” he said. “We should not be letting them off the hook.”
Upon receipt, the county plans to donate the funds to the South Simcoe Streams Network for the planting of trees.
AWARE Simcoe spokesperson Sandy Agnew said members are disappointed in the county’s decision.
“AWARE Simcoe is working hard to protect the environment and natural heritage in Simcoe County and the value of that work seems to be lost on most of county council,” he said.
“AWARE Simcoe members spend their own personal money on our work, while the county spends our tax dollars fighting AWARE Simcoe, instead of getting the process right – as pointed out by the judge.”
Allowing the cutting of the Beeton Woods under the false pretence of agriculture was an abdication of political responsibility by county councillors, Agnew said.
“AWARE Simcoe’s cause was just, but we were out-gunned in court by high paid lawyers who bamboozled the judge. The idea of replacing a mature stand of trees with seedlings planted elsewhere is ludicrous.”
Agnew said AWARE Simcoe’s Vision is for a Healthy Environment, Agricultural Prosperity, Development that is a Net Benefit to the Community, Complete Communities, Reliable Sustainable Energy, Awareness of the Need for Sustainability, and Healthy Lifestyles.
“AWARE Simcoe will continue to fight for our Vision,” he said.
Disclosure: My family has been in Midhurst since 1960, been a member of AWARE Simcoe for 4 years and my son currently serves on their board. In my opinion, saving Springwater Park would have been impossible without their active involvement while Mayor Hughes was indifferent at best.
My family or I are NOT involved in any potential or actual legal action with AWARE Simcoe or any of their Board members.
Is it material if Mayor Hughes failed to disclose any past or present litigation he has personally against AWARE Simcoe of their members to his fellow Simcoe County councillors, before they voted?
Was Mayor Hughes in a conflict of interest?
So we’re supposed to rest easy with the OMB-approved county Official Plan on the way? Right??
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.
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 DemocracyWatchSimcoe.ca.
Is a Waverley Mega Quarry in Tiny Township, Simcoe County worth this threat to the Alliston Aquifer…again?
An original article from Dr. John Bacher:
Save French’s Hill Forest
Tiny Township is blessed to have some of the rarest and largest old growth forests in southern Ontario south of the Canadian Shield, an ecosystem known as the Mixed Woods Plains. It is tragic that one of the best examples of this precious and threatened relic of Turtle Island before the impact of Euro-Canadian colonization, is now threatened by a proposed zoning amendment. It would change the zoning of lands now protected as Rural and Agricultural and designated as Significant Forest by Tiny Township, to permit the expansion of the existing Beamish quarry.
In addition to devastating forests the Beamish quarry expansion proposal is an attack on the world’s purest water, the same important source for the Alliston Aquifer that was battled over in the long struggle against Dump Site 41. Elaine Stephenson a champion of the French’s Hill Forest, has explained how she appreciated from childhood how the purity of her well water from this unusual geological feature. On this basis the quarry scheme was denounced by a leading foe of Dump Site 41, Stephen Odgen, at a October 13, 2009 meeting of the Tiny Township Council.
Part of the opposition that the Beamish scheme encountered when it was put forward at two meeting of Tiny Township Council in the winter of 2015 was that the pit proposal should not go forward until the work of he Severn Sound Environmental Association on the natural heritage of Tiny Township is properly reflected in its land use planning and zoning documents. This is an excellent critique since current land use planning both in Tiny Township and throughout Simcoe County does not make the best use of scientific studies of wildlife habitat, forest cover and old growth.
The critique of residents who have mobilized themselves into a Save the Waverly Uplands alliance is bolstered by the background environmental research that has been done into the provincially significant woodlands that surround the existing Beamish quarry. The work of the Severn Sound group builds on an earlier study, which in a tragically slow way, is shaping environmental planning in Simcoe County. This is report on “The Development of a Natural Heritage System for Simcoe County.” It was prepared by the Gartner Lee engineering firm for the Simcoe County Council in 1996.
The Gartner Lee report, now almost two decades old, provides a reasonable way in which to protect Simcoe County’s forests. It called for the protection of large blocks of forests of around 40 hectares in size, which is responsible for the current mapping of French’s Hill as a provincially significant woodland. Such woodlands straddle both sides of the border between Tiny and Tay townships.
The slowness in the adaption of the Garner Lee report into the Simcoe County official plan is one of the reasons the municipality has been ridiculed by the respected Neptis Foundation as the “Wild West” of urban sprawl.
The Gartner Lee study recognizes that, “The extensive tracts of forests” that are found in Tiny Township “are important habitat for a number of forest interior species as well as for mammals such as Black Bear, Martin and Fisher which have large home ranges.”
The Gartner Lee report recognizes the value of the large tracts of forests that endure in Tiny Township that are old growth as surrounds the Beamish quarry. It expressed amazement that here there are still “vast tracts of forest” in predominately hardwood old growth conditions. They are it stressed, a vivid contrast to the coniferous plantations established in other parts of Simcoe County to rescue it from desertification.
The old growth forests of Tiny Township Garner Lee stressed “represent the last vestiges of what southern-Ontario looked like in pre-settlement times. Unlike much of southern Ontario, where the original woodlands have become highly fragmented” these forest remain in “unbroken forest blocks.” Such conditions it found are important for wildlife as “refuges from predation” for “foraging habitat” and to secure “diversity in the landscape.”
The insights of the Gartner Lee report in protecting the old growth forests of southern Ontario are reflected in the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Natural Heritage Manual. They stress that old growth forests “are particularly valuable for several reasons, including their contributions of species genetics and ecosystem diversity.” One obvious example of this is that their survival allow winds and birds to transfer native hardwood species to managed plantation forests.
The MNR manual provides a careful definition of what constitutes an old growth forest. This is done through hitting any of three measures, age (around 100 years), basal area or diameter width. One basic approach is 10 or more trees at least 50 cm in diameter per hectare, or 8 trees of the same area of 40 cm.
When I saw tree cutting recently at French’s Hill I was horrified to see an old growth forest slashed for no apparent reason than to downgrade its rating in the MNR manual. The forest was of predominately giant sugar maples, regenerating in a healthy fashion with a blanket of seedlings. However, the quite recently stumps seemed to offer proofs that many giants had been cut with the deliberate purpose of reducing the density per hectare required to be considered an old growth forest.
Danny Beaton a Mohawk of the Turtle Clan has viewed the destruction of the French’s Hill Forest. On it he notes, that “The Nanfan Treaty states that the Iroquois Confederacy have a right to hunt and fish on our shared territories with the Ojibway, Huron and Wendat Nations in Georgian Bay. Why do corporations continuing to rape and pillage our forests, wetlands and water ways in Georgian Bay? Why do company’s continue to stake claim to the last endangered trees and forests with immunity from County of Simcoe Governance.? Why are citizens being ignored in county meetings that are set up for citizen participation and shared authority over land rights and development.? Are the lawyers, architects and engineers who support developers, the real threat to Mother Earth? Through unity and focus then can we organize our self for change and environmental protection through peaceful building and organizing our self. During Site 41 a unity of citizens, farmers and Torontonians emerged to defend and protect the Alliston Aquifer. Then the mega quarry was denounced by citizens, farmers, and native and good lawyers. We as citizens of Ontario must unite with the Conservation Authority, Environmental Organizations, Farmers, Native Nations and Good Minds with Good Hearted People before everything is cut down or polluted. Mother Earth is being raped on the French Hill in Waverly. The developer will say he bought the land which is old growth Sugar Maples and other hard wood trees so that all should be clear cut for a quarry As a Mohawk man with grade 6 education I can tell you from our Traditional Culture no one has the right to destroy this large unique incredibly beautiful healing place full of creation for our children’s children.”
Posted on JohnBacherPhD.ca and SpringwaterParkcc.org.
Previous posts on the Waverley Mega Quarry;