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.

 


Environmental groups want to protect the GTA’s water sources.

November 5, 2015

By extending the Greenbelt to include much of Simcoe County: Minesing Wetlands, Nottawasaga River, Oro Moraine, Lake Simcoe.

greenbelt expanded

An interesting article in today’s Toronto Star: Environmental groups hope to nearly double size of the Greenbelt

Greenbelt, meet “Bluebelt.”

That’s the vision of a collection of environmental groups that wants to almost double the size of the protected band of land around the Golden Horseshoe to include water systems such as the Oro Moraine and the Humber River headwaters.

What impact for Simcoe County?

That would mean expanding the protective zone past Kitchener-Waterloo to include the Paris-Galt, Waterloo and Orangeville Moraines of the Grand River Watershed, and north past Barrie to Collingwood to take up the Nottawasaga and Lake Simcoe watersheds. The proposal would then add Niagara Region’s Gibson Lake and the Oak Ridges Moraine to the east along the shore of Lake Ontario. Urban river valleys such as the Don, Humber and Rouge would also be added.

And who is opposing this politically?

At Queen’s Park this week, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown [MPP Simcoe North] said that before the Greenbelt is further expanded, the government needs to look at soaring housing prices.

This reason is refuted by a 2013 Royal Bank of Canada-Pembina Institute report that concluded there is “no evidence” the Greenbelt has restricted GTA housing development and contributed to rising home prices.


So it’s blatant open season on rural Ontario communities then?: Annexation/destruction via Midhurst Secondary Plan.

May 1, 2014

Goodbye to an independent Township of Springwater, Elmvale and the old Vespra and Flos townships. Hello to the latest Barrie land annexation because it is open season on vulnerable Ontario agricultural communities.

Annexation map 2

It’s called the Midhurst Secondary Plan but its very name is a lie.

As all the other Ontario rural municipality staff and leaders know, it’s a precedent-setting, naked shift of power from rural to urban use that makes all provincial institutional stakeholders into lapdogs.

Problems are solved at the price of independence and a rural way of life if The Regional Municipality of Barrie is formed.

Background: The Harris government amalgamated two great agricultural townships to form Springwater: Vespra in the south (Barrie to Horseshoe Valley Road) and Flos (north of Vespra to include Elmvale). These were self-sustainig and prosperous communities.

County in 1954

 

Barrie was a little village in 1812 when the Penetanguishene Road was surveyed.

Penetanguishene Road

The last significant northern Barrie annexation required a bald-faced, shocking display of raw political power by the Davis government (Barrie-Vespra Annexation Act).

I was wrong in April 2012 when I suggested a war was been declared on Midhurst:

the spoils of this war are 100% of the former Vespra and Flos lands.

Growth is inevitable. We know that better than anyone. But really: listening to the soulless, BMW-heavy OMB and their pharisees you’d be tricked into thinking agriculture is  a coarse, less sophisticated, stupid 2nd rate industry. That the “city mice” have pulled a fast one.

Premier Kathleen Wynne: please, we’re all adults here. I ask you to exercise your authority, stop the behind-closed-door OMB deals,  and keep the dialogue in the public sphere where it belongs. With our First Nations friends, we’ve been at this agri-business and community work for several thousands of years. We’ve not only built a community of communities but in some tough conditions, attracted and nurtured winners in every field: agronomy, law, engineering, medicine, service, etc. Everyone deserves to be respected, to engage in a vigorous, open exchange of ideas about the future of our communities, to know that the fight isn’t fixed.

Wouldn’t you agree, premier?


Is it any accident that Springwater Township council is speeding up the sprawl plan approvals process?

April 28, 2014

Their big push raises some disturbing questions.

school-bus-crash22

As was asked at last Council meeting and echoed in last night’s informative Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association information session:

  • Why did the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, NVCA lawyer clearly call any zoning changes before the Environmental Assessment process is completed, premature?
  • Why does a modestly-resourced conservation authority like NVCA unanimously have grave concerns about the sprawl plan is devoting substantial $ at the OMB hearings?
  • Why should anything be approved when a financial outcome study, remains unfinished?
  • Why is AWARE Simcoe making the MSP such a central part of their Annual General Meeting this Saturday?

With a final push of support, the sprawl plan defeat will be #3

  1. Dump Site 41.
  2. Mega Quarry in Melancthon township, and
  3. Midhurst Secondary Plan.

To Help:

StopSpringwaterSprawl.com


%d bloggers like this: