The Need for an Ontario Land Use Planning Board article by Dr. John Bacher

July 11, 2017

Another original article by Dr. John Bacher, first published on

Dr. John Bacher (PhD)
July 10, 2017

The Need for an Ontario Land Use Planning Board
The Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society
Dr. John Bacher

1. Province is to be Commended for Addressing Need to Reform Ontario Municipal Board (OMB)
The provincial government is to be commended for undertaking the difficult challenges of making improvements to legislation regulating the operations of the Ontario Municipal Board. (OMB) In general these reforms build on those introduced in 2005. Of these, most beneficial was the prohibition of an appeal a municipal council decision to prohibit the expansion of a human settlement area. PALS is of course pleased that this laudable reform was carried on in the proposed legislation. As expressed in our earlier comments, this needs to be further clarified. It seems strange that encroachments on designated environmental protection areas are not treated as expansions of the human settlement area.

John Bacher, a researcher with the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society, walks on farmland that he helped save from development in Niagara Falls, Ontario on Saturday, March 28, 2015. Environmentalists are cheering a decision at the OMB denying the urban boundary expansion of Niagara Falls. It was one of the biggest farmland protection cases at the OMB in Ontario history and is particularly significant in light of the greenbelt reviews currently underway. (Photo by Peter Power for The Toronto Star)

2. PALS is Pleased with Most Proposed Changes to OMB
At the outset, PALS wishes to make it clear that we support all, with two exceptions, of the proposed changes to OMB. Changes to restrict appeals, have more transparent procedures, eliminate appeals of ministerial zoning orders, and provide financial, legal and planning support to appellants acting in the public interest in championing provincial policy are long overdue. PALS also supports the reform that instead of “good planning”, decisions of an appeal body should be based on lack of conformity to provincial policy.

PALS has been involved in the development of provincial policy since our founding in 1976. We have taken part in numerous public consultations regarding planning policies. Throughout that time our OMB appeals, most of them successful, have been provoked because of violations of provincial policy. These appeals have also become a discovery expedition into fields of provincial policy which often tend to be ignored by planners working for municipalities and the private sector.

3. PALS Believes Good Planning Means Conformity to Provincial Policy
The use of the term “good planning” by the OMB is essentially an archaism to the period before 2005 when the extent of provincial policy was much more limited than it is today. Earlier there was nothing comparable, for instance, to the 2005 Natural Heritage Implementation Guidelines, which can be if actually applied, a sound basis for good planning in both rural and urban areas. By protecting water quality these guidelines would safeguard as one of the most our most dedicated members, Jean Grandoni, has stressed, fish habitat. The protection of streams from storm water pollution due to urban sprawl which poisons aquatic life, is one of the most vivid ways in which all of our rural landscape is food lands.

One of the basic principles of the Natural Heritage Implementation Guidelines is the protection it gives to the headwaters of streams. This also should protect considerable areas of rural land from urban expansion. PALS’ has found however, that the attitudes of municipalities have made this policy a ‘dead letter’.

The challenges of protecting stream headwaters is shown by PALS’ experience in a 2014 OMB hearing regarding the Ontario Motor Speedway in Fort Erie. This was a difficult experience for us, since our proffered expert witness, Dr. Hugh Gaylor, was not permitted to give opinion evidence as a planner because of his one-year membership in PALS. More seriously however, the headwaters of Miller’s Creek were permitted to be turned into a massive parking lot, since the planning instruments were manipulated so the motor raceway was not an urban expansion but a “special policy area.”

Long after the hearing was concluded, PALS’ learnt that there is a provision for special policy areas in the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). It has nothing to do with putting parking lots over headwaters on agriculturally zoned and designated lands. The term applies to areas which are in floodplains but are already urbanized.

Before the current guidance of provincial policy, it was understandable why the OMB had to in effect invent its own policy to ensure good planning. For many decades, even after the devastation and loss of human life in floodplains caused by Hurricane Hazel, there was no formal policy to compel zoning to prevent development on these hazardous lands. Despite formal policies that exist today however, threats to such areas persist.

4. Large Swaths of Provincial Policy Not Embedded in Municipal Plans
What is of great concern to PALS, is that while the basic concepts of good planning are well embedded in provincial policy, they are not well reflected in land use planning guidelines approved by municipalities. One disturbing aspect of this failure, is to properly protect the headwaters of streams as mandated by provincial policy. While decades old policies to protect fish habitat are slowly creeping into official plans, the same cannot be said for policies mandated by the most recent version of the PPS. These are policies to ensure adaptation and mitigation for climate change and to protect imperiled bio-diversity.

PALS’ took part recently in extensive Niagara Region public consultations in its mandated five year review of its official plan. During this period there was no discussion of the need to update the plan to implement these new policies of the PPS.

Some may suggest that for both climate change and bio-diversity, what is needed is simply to follow older policies of the PPS and protect large blocks of forested habitat and rural land from sprawl. This approach however, is inadequate. Many threatened wildlife species, have more specific habitat needs.

For instance, PALS’ has become familiar with the habitat requirements of vernal pool obligate species, such as the Western Chorus which in Ontario, is experiencing a marked population decline. Many forested areas which provided habitats for these frogs in the past, now fail to do so because of drainage. Municipal plans need to implement the new PPS plans for bio-diversity, which have been effectively shelved.

5. New Policies for Intervenor Funding Show Need for Ontario Land Use Planning Board
Given the stubborn refusal of municipalities to implement PPS policies on biodiversity and climate change, and the welcome new provisions for intervenor funding, PALS expects that many appeals will be made to what is planned to be called the Local Appeals Tribunal (LAT). The proposed new name for the tribunal however, LAT, does not give sufficient dignity to the important matters it will be adjudicating. A more appropriate one would be the Ontario Land Use Planning Board.

The term OMB has its origins before the Planning Act of 1946. For almost four decades, its adjudications based on land use planning were confined to the municipalities, (entirely urban), that had special provincial legislation to conduct land use planning. Even after the Planning Act of 1946, land use planning did not get going in predominately rural areas until the passage of the comprehensive zoning by-law of Thorold Township in 1959, when it was approved by the OMB, following appeals,. A critical role in the passage of- this by law was played the Township’s Reeve, a subsequent founder in 1976 of PALS, Mel Swart.

Swart’s success in using Planning Act controls to restrict quarries played an important role in the creation of the Aggregate Policy of the Planning Act. Subsequently, both he as an Ontario Legislator and PALS played a major role in securing the agricultural policies of the act.

PALS’ deep involvement in land use planning and the OMB shows us why an appeal tribunal should clearly have an expression of the importance of land use planning in the long- term interest of future generations in its name. This would be most clearly expressed as the Ontario Land Use Planning Board.

6. Decisions of Ontario Land Use Planning Board Should be Final
PALS’ is opposed to the proposal in the draft legislation that alterations by a provincial appeals tribunal to a municipal council land use planning decision should , if a council continues to object after ninety days, require a second hearing in order to be upheld. In this regard our views are shaped by the OMB rejection of a proposed urban boundary expansion in the City of Niagara Falls in the watershed of the Ten Mile Creek. The council of Niagara Falls even had the temerity to appeal our OMB victory to the courts, which resulted in a cost award to PALS and Jean Grandoni. This appeal by the city is illustrative of the profound contempt municipalities in Ontario have for provincial policy. If found to be in violation of policy by a provincially appointed planning board , municipalities should not have a second hearing to argue their case.

An important role in our OMB victory was played by our lawyer, David Donnelly, who acts in effect as a policy advisor to many Ontario environmental groups. He has warned that the proposed double hearing process could turn the proposed LAT into a rubber stamp for municipal councils.

The victory of PALS and Jean Grandoni at the OMB was based on a number of violations of provincial policy. Critical to the victory was the testimony given under subpoena from PALS, of Mark Christie, a senior planner with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. (MMAH) The essence of his testimony was that the urban expansion was not needed as it has been provincial policy since the 1980s that calculations of residential land supply should be made on an upper tier, (regional) basis. In opposition to PALS, the City of Niagara Falls and the Niagara Region argued that excessive land supplies in Port Colborne and Fort Erie should not be used to prohibit an urban boundary expansion in Niagara Falls.

Christie’s expose was one of many violations of provincial policy uncovered at the hearing. One was a failure to follow the protocols of the Canada Land Inventory, which require on-site soil tests when soil mapping results are challenged. It was also demonstrated that the agricultural policy was violated by the failure to consider lands of lesser capability in southern Niagara Falls. Another was to ignore the Niagara Region’s Official Plan’s implementation of provincial policy to protect natural heritage. An onsite visit by experts of all parties confirmed that the subject lands are a deer migration corridor. It also demonstrated that a forested area contained a vernal pool, which in violation of storm water management guidelines of the province, was proposed to become a storm water pond.

7. PALS Proposals are Modest Additions to Proposed Reform Package
In conclusion, PALS wishes to stress that our two proposed legislative alterations are reasonable and modest alterations to well-intended reforms. Municipalities’ failure to respond for many years to PPS policies and more recently policies for climate change, to curtail urban expansions, and the protection of bio diversity, show the need for an Ontario Land Use Planning Board whose decisions should be final.

Reproduced with permission.

Sacred Farmland/Aquifers article: The Midhurst Secondary Plan = monstrous developers’ greed + ecocidal idiocy

June 3, 2017

Part 1 and 2 of a devastating critique of this grotesque sprawl proposal in Simcoe County.

Danny Beaton John Bacher Niagara

An excellent summary published by the Springwater News (p. 6) of the lunacy of the Midhurst Secondary Plan: a desecration of Mother Earth and her creation.  Click here for a free pdf download.

Sacred Farmland/Aquifers

Elder Danny Beaton and Dr. John Bacher

Few Canadians know or appreciate the watershed of Midhurst’s Willow Creek, which while marvelous in itself as a wildlife migration corridor and a template for wise ecological recovery, is even more important for its downstream outlet, the Minesing Wetlands. The Minesing Wetlands provides a sense of the beauty and sacredness of an environment guarded by native peoples since the retreat of glaciers over 10,000 years ago. This wonder, however, is now at risk from the massive urban sprawl blessed by the monstrosity called the Midhurst Secondary Plan. The Willow Creek watershed is on the eve of becoming the focal point for bitter battles over subdivision proposals at the Ontario Municipal Board. (OMB)

The Minesing Wetlands which Willow Creek feeds is Ontario’s Lost World. The famous fictional book and movie, which imagined explorers deep in the Amazon discovering giant species from a distant past, approximates the reality of this 6,000 hectare refuge for native species. It gives a glimpse of what Ontario was like before the ecocidal invasion of what is now our province by Euro-Canadians.

The word Minesing in Ojibway language means island. This illustrates how it is a haven for wildlife in a denuded and biologically sterile environment, at risk of being washed over by shock waves of urban sprawl unleashed by a storm of developers’ greed.

Minesing is the last home for entire ecological communities in Ontario, such as the Burr Oak and Hackberry swamp forests. Such ecosystems are a refuge for rare plants as the Beaked Spice-Bush and the Eastern Prairie and White Fingered Orchids. Minesing has southern Ontario’s largest Fen, providing refuge for the rare Least Bittern. Its large expanse of forest makes it a breeding home for the Threatened Cerulean Warbler. Careful documentation has found that 135 species of birds nest in the Minesing Wetlands.

The Minesing Wetlands provides nesting places for some of the most spectacular birds to be found in Ontario, such as the Bald Eagle, Trumpeter Swan and Sandhill Crane. The two heronies of this refuge are the oldest documented breeding grounds for the Great Blue Heron in Ontario. Minesing has a breeding colony for the threatened Black Tern. One of the biggest and most threatened fish in Ontario, the Lake Sturgeon, swims through the wetlands. While the Snapping and Painted Turtle are abundant here, it is also a refuge for threatened Wood, Map and Blanding’s Turtle. It is a staging post for the return of the river otter to southern Ontario. It mingles with another restored shaper of wetlands, the beaver, and the muskrat.

While the big birds, fish, reptiles and mammals of the Lost World of Minesing are impressive, the glory of the wildlife refuge is its being a haven for threatened insects. The wetland is so vast and formidable that it was never burnt out and subsequently farmed, like the ecologically restored, but originally once desertified landscape of Willow Creek around Midhurst. Now insects are threatened by agricultural pesticides. These are not used in a refuge which is controlled by public agencies and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Minesing is haven for the rare Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. It is the largest Butterfly that lives in Canada. It is most significant for being the only place in Canada where an Endangered Species, Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly lives. It was thought to have been extirpated from Canada, but was discovered here in 2007 and listed as Threatened in 2012. It is also Endangered in the United States. The nearest population of this species is 180 kilometres away in Michigan.

Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly endangered status in both the United States and Canada is illustrative of the idiocy of European colonization and exploitation. This did not take place through the rigours of contemporary environmental reviews. It survived in Minesing since the tough wetland was too difficult and wet to be burned away, like the surrounding source contributor of Willow Creek. Its forest were burned away for ashes to make soap. The species has quite exacting needs for its survival. These were only discovered in recent decades by scientists working to rescue the shining emerald green dragonfly from extinction.

Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly is what scientists in the last forty years have become to appreciate as a vernal pool obligate species. Vernal pools are specialized environments that dry up usually by August. They provide habitat for tree frog species, such as Wood and Spring Peeper Frogs, which in the early spring, turn Minesing into an astonishing symphony of musical calls. During the late summer when the pools usually dry up, Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly survives by crawling into damp excavations made by crayfish.

The Willow Creek watershed that pours its flow into Minesing, had its population of Hine’s Emerald dragonfly wiped out by Euro-Canadian invaders. By 1900 most of the land here had been stripped of forests and degraded to marching sand dunes that threatened to bury Barrie, as they had done to an earlier seat of Simcoe County, Angus. However, through determined political leadership, guided by expert scientific advice. this was reversed. The lessons of history are now being ignored however. The watershed of Willow Creek, once buried by sand from burning trees, is now at risk of being covered
over by the cement of sprawl.

In October of 1905 the future Premier of Ontario, Ernest Drury, and the future Chief Forester of Ontario, Edmund Zavitz, went on a tour of the sand dunes of Simcoe County. While walking through the desert they came upon an important contributor to Willow Creek, a bubbling spring. With an abundant aquifer of pure clean water, similar to that which spawned the struggle to stop Dump Site 41, lead by Danny Beaton, (Mohawk Turtle Clan) Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, Stephen Odgen and Elizabeth May, they decided that the spring provided an excellent place for a tree nursery to reforest the spreading desert. This nursery eventually become the 192 hectare Springwater Provincial Park. The park became a staging place for the reintroduction of the Trumpter Swan and Beaver, which now restored, thrive in nearby Minesing.

The battle to rescue Springwater Provincial Park from closure is illustrative of the difficult struggle ahead to stop sprawl in Midhurst. Following closure a year round Objiway struggle led by Beth Elson of occupation followed. It eventually, successfully resulted in the park being reopened under an arrangement between the provincial government and the Beausoleil First Nation.

Springwater Park is only one example of how Willow Creek watershed has benefitted from one of the most massive efforts at ecological restoration in Ontario. It has 21 Simcoe County Forests, which restored 2,039 hectares of blow sand wastes. The forested corridor along Willow Creek is substantial enough to provide a migration corridor for daring bear and moose to enter Minesing. This corridor could expand if it was properly protected from sprawl. The landscape is now an excellent example of how nature and agriculture can co-exist well, with an astonishing mosaic of Class One farmland and interconnected and slowly growing forests. The forests are especially thick in protecting Willow Creek and its tributaries.

The wonders of the struggles of ecological protection and restoration of the past are now threatened by the sinister prescriptions of the Midhurst Secondary Plan. As it stands currently, the plan calls for the construction of 10,000 housing units enough for 30,000 people, on +1,000 acres of the Class One and Two farmlands in the Willow Creek watershed. This will have an enormous environmental impact. Storm water will be dumped, laced with road salt, oil and other toxins into Willow Creek and eventually into Minesing. Building on top of the aquifer that provides recharge water discharged into the Minesing wetland, will also help to dry it up.

The struggle that stopped Dump Site 41 gives an appreciation of the magnitude of the effort to rescue Willow Creek and Minesing. The public servants who attempt to guide the provincial politicians with ecological folly know that it is folly to permit sprawl in Midhurst. The Growth Plan that is supposed to
guide land use planning in the most rapidly growing part of southern Ontario, originally attempted to confine urban growth in the Simcoe County region to the current municipal borders of Barrie. This would have kept sewage pollution out of the Minesing wetland.

The Growth Plan’s provisions were not changed on any rational basis, but simply to bow to potential developers. An aroused Ontario public would convince provincial politicians to listen to their land use planning advisors to impose a Ministerial Zoning Order under the Planning Act, to stop sprawl in Midhurst.

Part 1 and 2, published June 1st 15th.

Elder Danny Beaton, Mohawk Turtle Clan is an internationally recognized protector of Mother Earth. Dr. John Bacher is a researcher for the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society (PALS). Danny and John were central in the successful defense of Dump Site 41 and the Mega-Quarry in Melancthon, ON and denying the residential development of Springwater Provincial Park. They continue as important members of the Advisory Council of the Midhurst-based Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition.

Cross-posted on




“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??


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

Margaret Atwood talks about these “sinister” Ontario and local politicians?

August 18, 2014

An important warning about the destruction of Wasaga Beach and Georgian Bay.

Atwood admonishment oh boy

Click here for video  or

175 views at 5 pm. 20140820

To Do:

  • Click here for information so you can write a hand-written letter to Premier Wynne complaining about this type of unfair propaganda.
  • And here to find out who are the other +44,600 fools who agree with these types of people.

How many more home addresses will Geranium Corporation publish to defend their development interests in the Midhurst Secondary Plan?

July 23, 2014

The Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association, MRA opposes sprawl and has been talking to Premier Kathleen Wynne about it since before the provincial election.

On July 17th, Geranium has the MRA president’s home address  printed in 17,100 hard copies and digitally at the Springwater News newspaper. I covered it up with a post-it note (see below) when I photographed it.

20140704 Geranium MRA letter cropped

Maybe Mr. Marc Denhez of the Ontario Muncipal Board? Or Ms. Cheryl Shindruk VP, Geranium? Or Mr. Earl Rumm president of Geranium?

20140717 Springwater News front

I understand that Mr. Earl Rumm is the president of Geranium Corporation (see Ontario looks to smack down SLAPPs).

20140717 Springwater News bifold

Text of the letter: pdf

At least, two previously-published articles note that Ms. Buxton and the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association continue talking directly to Premier Kathleen Wynne:

1. Midhurst ratepayers not giving up fight after OMB defeat, The Barrie Advance, July 9, 2014, and

Buxton said her group met with Premier Kathleen Wynne during the election campaign and has met with other senior government officials since then.

“(Wynne) promised us she’d order a review and she’d involve us in high-level talks so we could flesh out our concerns and be involved. She’s keeping her word,” Buxton said.

2. Approval for Midhurst housing plan takes one step closer, The Barrie Examiner, July 11, 2014.

Buxton said the association “has the ear” of Premier Kathleen Wynne and that she has spoken with the premier about the Midhurst development.

“She was very receptive and very concerned and she promised the whole thing would be reviewed. I know she is committed to reviewing how this all came about,” Buxton said. “We have already had a meeting with very senior people attached to the premier’s office.”

Should Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne empower an independent, public investigation into the secretive Midhurst Secondary Plan?

July 9, 2014

The intense sprawl pressure in south Simcoe County will not end even when the legal “loophole” is reversed.

Kathleen Wynne2

Mark Wanzel/Barrie Examiner

Premier Wynne continues to talk to the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association, MRA.

Barrie Advance, Midhurst ratepayers not giving up fight after OMB defeat:

Buxton [MRA president] said her group met with Premier Kathleen Wynne during the election campaign and has met with other senior government officials since then.

“(Wynne) promised us she’d order a review and she’d involve us in high-level talks so we could flesh out our concerns and be involved. She’s keeping her word,” Buxton said.

Atwood bear crop

Time: 1:51 to 2:15

This is not the prototypical tree-hugger against the capitalist.

This is the prototypical ratepayer against some people who did some pretty secretive things to them behind their backs.

And it’s no longer the era of “we can do things under the table, in small places and no one will notice”. We live in the age of the internet, so things become public pretty quickly.

Margaret Atwood

Link to full video.

Midhurst sprawl: What is the weakest response a developer could make when Ontario Nature calls about their plan?

June 19, 2014

Why did Geranium Corp. appear to effectively say “no comment” if this scheme is such a done deal?

20140601 Midhurst residents 3

ThreatenedProposed development could adversely affect Minesing Wetlands.

An interesting article in the summer edition of Ontario Nature‘s newsletter, ON Nature, called: Midhurst residents oppose development: pdf

 …In 2012, the Ontario minister of infrastructure granted MLG a “special rule” allowing the developer group to proceed with planning the first 300 hectares of the project.

Geranium Corp., the largest member in the MLG consortium, is no stranger to controversial projects. The developer is also behind the Big Bay Point Marina development on Lake Simcoe, which received approval despite concerns over the environmental impact of adding 1,600 timeshare units and a 1,000-slip marina to the already taxed watershed. “They’re extremely good at marketing their proposals to government and, more often than not, they’re successful,” says Strachan. “It’s amazing to me how gullible the government has been.” (At press time, calls to Geranium Corp. for comment had not been returned.)

While 4/7ths of the current Springwater Township continues to strike a truly ostrich assume-the-position, position, the winds of change are bringing in some very heavy-weight opponents of the Midhurst Secondary Plan.

While Springwater Township has warned that any attempt to stop the development in Midhurst would result in lawsuits, Strachan and others are not willing to give up the fight. A number of high-profile artists and politicians, including Margaret Atwood, Maude Barlow, MPP Jim Wilson and MP Patrick Brown, publicly support the campaign. More information is available on Stop Springwater Sprawl (

Don’t forget to come to the MRA’s event this Sunday: Celebration of Rural Living with Margaret Atwood.

Margaret Atwood poster

Cross-posted on and

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