Canada’s Largest First Nations newspaper and the Midhurst sprawl plan’s “junk science”.

June 19, 2017

Ontario continues to encourage Simcoe County as the “wild west of development/sprawl”.

Free download here.

First Nations Drum
April 1, 2017

 

Ontario Planner Struggles to Save Huron-Wyandot Homeland

By Dr. John Bacher (PhD) & Danny Beaton (Mohawk, Turtle Clan)

Opinion

The Turtle Island region of Huronia – otherwise known by its archaic colonial name of Simcoe County – is under environmental assault by urban sprawl. A blockade to stop Dump Site 41, the occupation of Springwater Provincial Park, and sacred water walks along the shores of Lake Simcoe are tactics being used to rescue the traditional territories of the Huron-Wyandot.

Victor Doyle is a senior planner with the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, (OMMAH) and is inspired by the earth-respecting spiritual actions of various Ojibway communities and their many Mohawks allies. Doyle has been with OMMAH for three decades and is at the epicenter of ongoing battles to protect this sacred land with his fighting for provincially-directed land use planning to rescue wildlife, farms, forests and water from human greed.

Doyle’s most avid opponents are twofold – corporations, and the powerful minions of developers who run Simcoe County (politicians). Doyle’s determination to stand up against their pressure has earned him their enmity. One such politician is former Mayor Doug White of West Gwillimbury, who as far back as 2010 dismissed Doyle’s defense of Ontario’s land use policies as the mere rantings of “one unelected provincial bureaucrat.”


Waawaasaegaaming (Lake Simcoe) Water Walk 2015, The Narrows, Orillia, ON. Photo by Les Stewart

Chief Planner of Toronto, Jennifer Keesmaat, has made Doyle the public voice on the issue, commanding media attention on the research of agronomists, foresters, conservation biologists, land use planners, hydrologists and municipally-controlled conservation authorities. Though no official title accompanies Doyle’s point-man position, his stature and prominence should be effective in forestalling or preventing further encroachment.

Two brave conservationists, Wayne Wilson and Patti Young, are no longer with the Nottawasaga Conservation Authority due to their opposition to urban sprawl from the booming City of Barrie spilling over into its watershed and into the community of Midhurst in Springwater Township. In 2014, both Wilson and Young departed under the guise of an NVCA “efficiency audit.” Young vacated her position first with Wilson following suit.

While such relatively obscure figures cannot get the media’s attention, Doyle’s warnings about violations of provincial land use policy ravaging Huronia have been published in two of Canada’s leading newspapers, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. Doyle’s first warnings about Huronia appeared in the December 12, 2009 edition of the Toronto Star. The newspaper characterized his warnings as “a damming memo from Ontario’s senior planner” that paints “a stark picture of unsustainable sprawl, congestion and skyrocketing infrastructure costs if the province proceeds with a controversial strategy to urbanize large swaths of Simcoe County north of the Greenbelt.”


Waawaasaegaaming (Lake Simcoe) Water Walk 2015, Tudhope Park, Orillia, ON. Photo by Les Stewart

When penning his 2009 warnings, Doyle worried about schemes promoted by corporations to turn the small hamlet of Bond Head, a village of 500 people served by septic tanks, into a city of 114,000 persons. This threat still endures, although now in a more modest scale of a 30,000 hectare proposal. A new danger emerging is the construction of 10,000 housing units in Midhurst. The biggest problem posed by this development is the polluted runoff spilling into Willow Creek, which is a major source of water flowing into the Minesing Wetlands. The wetlands are an important refuge for rare, endangered and ecologically significant wildlife including the endangered Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly, Sturgeon, Bald Eagle, Trumpeter Swan, Sandhill Crane, Blue Winged Warbler, and various turtles.

As Doyle took to writing his second citizen report this spring, Ontario’s land use planning system’s “Co-ordinated Review” appeared to be on the brink of collapse. A freeze on urban boundary expansions – a key principle of both the Greenbelt and the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan – was under attack by media, developers and municipalities.

The Toronto Globe and Mail provided a link to Doyle’s full 27 page report titled “The Growth Plan and the Greenbelt Plan: Settling the Record Straight” where he vigorously defends urban boundaries. This led to a modest expansion of the Greenbelt on urban river valleys and on grape and fruit tree growing lands in Grimsby. While “Setting the Record Straight” saved the Greenbelt, it has not yet rescued Huronia. The warnings in the report do show why Midhurst, Bond Head and all of its remaining rural land need the protection of the Greenbelt.

Nonsense used to justify the urbanization of Willow Creek, such as the claim urbanization does not harm streams, is junk science, and has been refuted by Doyle using data from the watershed report cards assembled by conservation authorities. Using a study by the Credit River Conservation Authority, Doyle demonstrates how surface water in urbanized areas is always rated, “Very Poor” or “Poor” and explains that damaged watersheds are without any native fish, turtles or frogs.

Doyle said the main threat posed to Minesing Wetlands wildlife refuge from urban sprawl is “the major issue of habitat loss, which, in turn, is the key loss of bio-diversity.” Doyle warns refusal to extend the Greenbelt into Simcoe County is causing a mass sale of farms purchased by land speculators. His report states, “development interests continue to be speculatively buying or securing huge land assemblies tens of thousands of acres beyond the green belt.” The speculation in Simcoe County has led to farmland to commonly sell for $54,000 dollars an acre. In contrast, in the better regulated Waterloo region, farmland cost $14,000 an acre.

Doyle’s report illustrates the necessity of the struggle to protect Huronia inside the Greenbelt – a struggle made more difficult by the hostility we received while walking around Lake Simcoe with Ojibway environmental leaders in the “Walk for the Water.” My experience includes a driver of an animal control vehicle angrily scowling at us for taking a rest near a bicycle trail.

Those in Huronia that care for the earth should not be treated with contempt, but with the honor given to one standing-up for the sake of the entire community and the life web supporting it. The province must rescue Huronia by extending the Greenbelt.

The province must rescue Huronia by extending the Greenbelt.

 


“Mum’s the word” from the Mega developers, OMB and County of Simcoe about expanding Greenbelt environmental protection.

November 20, 2015

So we’re supposed to rest easy with the OMB-approved county Official Plan on the way? Right??

greenbelt-expanded

The Oak Ridges Moraine Partnership and the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance have proposed Ontario’s Greenbelt expand to include almost 300,000 hectares in Simcoe County. The proposed area is shown in dark green and includes Lake Simcoe, the Oro Moraine, the Nottawasaga River Watershed and the Minesing Wetlands. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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.

20151119 Margaret Prophet

Margaret Prophet, co-chair of the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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.


The “Geranium Rule” was created by the stroke of an Ontario minister’s pen.

May 21, 2014

Over 200 hectares of farmland and Minesing Wetlands will likely be destroyed.

Protest signs

How vigorously has Springwater Township council protested to their provincial masters?

You decide.

At last night’s council meeting, Council was asked if they had at least sent a letter opposing the “Special Rule” that green lighted the massive Midhurst Secondary Plan.

  • The answer from staff: No.

A follow-up question:

  • Is the Mayor prepared to do so now considering the 2 petitions and Margaret Atwood coming to Midhurst to protect the Minesing Wetlands on June 22nd?

I took from the answer that there will not even a letter of protest from this Council.

What was offered up was a foretaste of a new township Procedural Bylaw that will rule “out of order” any such future questions.


Why are the Midhurst sprawl-miesters running scared by doing an “end run” to get their re-zoning orders?

March 24, 2014

The poor boys thought scoring was a “Done Deal” but others and the law appear to disagree.

Demanding the Ontario Municipal Board, OMB give them their precious re-zoning orders “RFN (full 10,000 houses):
  • before the environmental assessments are done (a no-n0, especially see RAMSAR certified Minesing Wetlands),
  • before the  current house negro township Council majority gets their increasingly-apparent doofus rubber-stamp on the crucial re-zoning orders, 
  • before Margaret Atwood and Friends (Michael  Ondaatje, Joseph Boyden, Maude Barlow, Neil & Pegi Young, and John Ralston Saul) show up at Nursery Road and Springwater Park-Camp Nibi,
  • before  the township’s Oct 27th township election allows democracy to do its purging work again,
  • before a new Minister (Linda Jeffrey quits Ontario cabinet to run for Brampton mayor) is appointed,
  • before a former Kingston municipal politician retires and passes Ontario’s 1st anti-SLAPP law, and
  • before Premier Wynne calls a spring provincial election, which would give her ….

….the pretense for a ministerial order overthrowing 100% of the financially reckless, environmentally-catastrophic Midhurst Secondary Plan.

With the stroke of a pen.

End Run Analogy: Colloquially, it has come to mean an attempt to avoid a difficult situation by dodging it without confronting it directly, or to attempt to circumvent someone’s authority by appealing to a different authority. Wikipedia

Come out to Council meeting tonight at 5:30 pm or the county museum tomorrow night to smell the fear and loathing.

Posted on voteLesStewart.ca and SpringwaterParkcc.org.


St. Margaret of Atwood says: Sign the anti-Midhurst Secondary Plan sprawl petition.

February 3, 2014

Right here. Right now.

Margaret_Atwood

Margaret Atwood stands behind the environment by opposing the Midhurst Secondary Plan.

Statement:

To:
Mayor Collins and Springwater Township Councillors, Township of Springwater
Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
Glenn Murray, Minister of Infrastructure
Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
James Bradley, Minister of Environment

Dear Mayor Collins and Springwater Council,
RE: STOP THE MIDHURST SECONDARY PLAN

I have recently signed a petition to put a stop to the Midhurst Secondary Plan (MSP). Let me explain my reasons for opposing this development.

In 2012, the Midhurst residents presented a petition against this plan with 1,456 signatures. This petition seemed to have little impact on Springwater Council. At a recent council meeting, it was clear that the local residents are still fully opposed to this plan as outlined in the Barrie Examiner. I hope that this new petition provides further evidence to Council that this issue is growing in concern.

There are several reasons why I am requesting that you repeal the MSP:

  • The MSP will cause a loss of 1,880 acres of prime farmland – enough to feed almost 2,000 people! This loss will happen at a time when we are losing farmland at an atrocious rate. With projects such as this, local food will soon no longer be an option.
  • At full build-out the MSP will dump 10.6 million litres of sewage effluent into the tiny Willow Creek and this could have a major detrimental environmental impact on the internationally recognized Minesing Wetlands. These ecosystems are fragile – the impact may be irreversible!
  • The Township has not done a comprehensive evaluation of the financial impacts of the MSP. Is this plan what is best for taxpayers? Will this plan leave the community financially stable or potentially bankrupt it? In such hard economic times, prudence is key.
  • There is little support that this plan will benefit the community. The Township has claimed that the MSP will bring jobs and stimulate the local economy but doesn’t have the facts to support this claim. It seems like these benefits are based on speculation and wishful thinking.
  • The MSP will eradicate an easy-living rural community and change it to a fast-paced, high density city. The citizens of this community are rural by choice, not urban by force.

I recognize that intelligent growth which preserves the character of Midhurst is necessary. Consequently, Midhurst village has long planned to add up to 6,500 residents by 2031; however, to quadruple the population increase for no apparent reason to potentially 30,000 people at the expense of so much does not indicate to me responsible growth planning.

I urge you to put a stop to the Midhurst Secondary Plan and find a better way to grow Springwater communities that doesn’t threaten the landscape of a small, rural community, the farms that feed us all and the fresh water that deserves our protection. I’m calling on you to do the right thing- listen to the people and represent the wishes of those who elected you. Stop the Midhurst Secondary Plan.
Sincerely,
[Your name]

AWARE Simcoe coverage.

I have signed this petition and oppose the MSP

Posted also on SpringwaterParkcc.org.


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

December 9, 2013

From this picture at least, it is Mr. 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 SpringwaterParkcc.org.


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