For whose greater good is the County of Simcoe serving when the try to “SLAPP” AWARE Simcoe into silence?

October 10, 2015

The citizens of the county or other interests?

Simcoe logo

An original article from Dr. John Bacher pdf

A New “White Savagery” Assault on  Ontario’s Restored Forests: SLAPP lawsuits and “Award of Costs”

Dr. John Bacher

Bacher Beeton

Dr. Bacher addresses the Simcoe County council in support of Stop Work Order, Beeton Woods clear cut.

In 19th century Ontario when forests were reduced to ashes to make cheap soap creating as a result deserts that threatened to bury the province in sand, forest burners used fairly crude tactics against their opponents.  The one figure who attempted to stand up to these assaults, the Mohawk Iroquois Confederacy Chief George Johnson, had three assassination attempts on his life for enforcing the Six Nation’s forest protection laws.

Johnson  was beaten and left to dead by his assailants, one time surviving only because a bullet intended to kill him, got stuck in a heavy waist coat for a patrol on a chilly autumn night.   A friend, the anthropologist Horatio Hale,  called this evil assault “white savagery.”

Johnson certainly knew how to use what his fellow Confederacy elders called “the good mind” against his opponents. Helped by the literary and musical talents of his family, which included his English born wife, Emily and performance daughter artist  Pauline, he lured the intellectual elite of Ontario to his home Chiefswood.

At Chiefswood helped by the magnificence of the towering trees protected by the Mohawks, Johnson explained to his guests  that forests were too valuable to be burnt up for play. Eventually public opinion changed resulting in the tripling of forest cover in Ontario under the direction of its Chief Forester, Edmund Zavitz.

What is astonishing today is that we see a new assault on the restored forest Johnson conceived and Zavitz planted. This is a new form of what Hale termed.  “white savagery”. It  involves more refined and  subtle methods than the past gunfire and beatings.

Rather than attempt as in the corrupt Gilded Age to silence conservationists through crude shootings, the preferred method of intimidation today  has become the “cost award” and “SLAPP” suit (Strategic lawsuit against public participation).  What is sought however, is the same: to try to intimidate people who love forests to get out of the way of their destruction.

Within the week we have seen two attempts by environmentalists to rescue forests restored through Zavitz’s forest conservation efforts from development corporations be the targets of a renewed savagery against their defenders. Both of these forests were created as a result of Zavitz’s forest conservation efforts.

The David Dunlap Forest planted between 1938 and 1980 helped rescue Toronto from flooding on the Don River and the march of sand from the once treeless Oak Ridges Moraine. Forests in the Simcoe County Township of New Tecumseh in the village of Beeton were created for their role in protecting drinking water. The Premier of Ontario, E. C. Drury, who bolstered Zavitz’s conservation efforts, praised Beeton for increasing its “water supply by judicious reforestation.”

20151009 Chiefswood 3

Mary Lou Jorgensen Bacher at Mohawk Chief George Johnson’s home, “Chiefswood”

The Richmond Hill Naturalists attempted to save about half (43 acres) of the David Dunlap Forest from proposed residential development. After losing a re-zoning decision at the OMB, which subsequently caused close to fifty acres of forests to be clear cut,  it was hit by the granting of a $100,000 award of costs requested by the developer, Metrus. AWARE Simcoe is now struggling to protect 30 acres of a Beeton forest from a development company that is pretending to be an agricultural operation. Although the forest is still intact, Simcoe County granted a “Special Permit”, which exempts the forest from provisions against tree cutting in its tree by-law.  It is seeking court injunction to revoke the “Special Permit” and for this reason has been hit by a request for up to +$63,000 in court costs.

What is most bizarre about this new round of “white savagery” against forest defenders is a common attempt by developers and their minions to deny that environmental protection groups represent the public interest. Lawyer for Simcoe County Marshall Green articulated this view in his court submission against AWARE Simcoe. He takes the view that it is nothing than a “corporate lobby group.” In this regards Green echoes the OMB’s condemnation of the Richmond Hill Naturalists, which also challenged their status as public interest defenders. This was expressed in a ruling before the cost award granted by OMB  hearing officer, Joseph Sniezek in a preliminary procedure before the merits of the re-zoning of the Dunlap Forest was considered. This was based on a previous OMB decision, Zellers versus Leamington. The OMB ruled that efforts to save 43 acres of forests from residential development by a long established environmental group, had the same corporate self-interested status as a discount chain store struggling to delay the establishment of a new shopping mall.

In condemning the Richmond Hill Naturalists, hearing officer Sniezek claimed that they had no substantive evidence. This is based on his belief that in the zoning decision he adjudicated he was bound to not depart from an earlier official plan amendment heard by OMB Vice-Chair, Karlene J. Hussey.

In her decision however, Hussey clearly indicated that she believed that efforts to protect forests were a legitimate matter for the subsequent zoning hearing. In response to an effort by the Mississaugas of the New Credit to obtain a delay in the official plan hearing, she ruled that they should “participate in the public process associated with the zoning by-law amendment necessary to implement the development.” In response to the Richmond Hill Naturalists concerns over the loss of “key hydrological features, including seepage areas and springs”, Hussey likewise directed them to the zoning process. Most significantly she ruled that the view of the Naturalists’ expert witness in Aboriculture, Jack Radecki that the threatened for should be kept in its “entirety” was a legitimate matter for the zoning process to consider.

At this time southern Ontario’s restored forests are facing numerous threats in addition to the savagery of the cost award and SLAPP suit.  While swamps, wet forests are for now protected by provincial policy, it is undergoing a review. (Both the Dunlap and Beeton forests are dry and therefore vulnerable to development.) This strong protection for swamp forests  could be weakened by proposals for what is termed bio-diversity offsetting.

Danny Beaton a Mohawk of the Turtle Clan spoke about the looming threats to our region’s forests at meeting in Newmarket. Here Beaton pleaded, “Without Mother Earth, we cannot survive. We all need fresh water, fresh food, fresh air. People have forgotten to think of the Earth as their mother. This is what life is based on. ..The Earth is losing because we aren’t working together. When these proposals come forward to destroy habitat with new development, we need to put our energy together to find solutions. We can mobilize scientists and bring teachers and doctors and elders and farmers together.”

John Bacher PhD is an environmental writer, researcher and consultant, JohnBacherPhD.ca. He works with the Sierra Club of Canada on Greenbelt issues. Danny Beaton is a Mohawk elder who protects Mother Earth,  DannyBeaton.ca. Originally published on DemocracyWatchSimcoe.ca with photo by Dr. Bacher.

Simcoe County council will be discussing whether your politicians want to press for court awards against AWARE Simcoe on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, at 9 am in Midhurst administration centre (agenda, Google map)

Disclosure: My family is a member of  AWARE Simcoe and my son sits on their Board of Directors. Membership.

Originally posted on DemocracyWatchSimcoe.ca.


Why does Simcoe County want to become the monopoly service provider for water supply and wastewater via a regional network of underground pipes?

October 22, 2014

Is it “For the Greater Good”: to maximize the value of natural monopoly services to the the current 446,063 current residents as is the case for solid waste, ambulance, forests, long term care?

Simcoe County logo

Or is it to set into place effective corporate control over the water and sewer revenue of one of the fastest growing areas in Canada?

Each mayor and deputy mayor in Simcoe County’s 16 municipalities automatically sits on county council when they’re elected.

Question: Is there an undisclosed, personal, pecuniary interest in everyone running for mayor or deputy mayor in the October 27th election because economic theory indicates profit-maximizing control of monopolies leads to avoidable, inefficient economic rents? These over-and-above market-justified cash flows can create a series of perceived and real conflicts of interest (ie. opportunistically increase the net present value of the lifetime earnings of new and former county politicians and county senior staff).

Pecuniary Interest Disclosure: Since January 2, 2014, I have been a registered candidate for Deputy Mayor of Springwater Township. My only pecuniary interest is part ownership of a residential property in Midhurst which has used well water and septic system for the last 54 years. The perceived forced, future hookup to water and sewers that would come with the Midhurst Secondary Plan, MSP has decreased the market value of this family asset. I restrict my business consulting to individual and groups of franchisees in the North American business format franchise industry.

As a candidate for deputy mayor, I would oppose the privatization of water management in Springwater Township and the county if elected.

There are three of us vying for this position: the incumbent is an uber-staunch MSP supporter and the other one became a Midhurst resident in 2014, appears to be using robo calls, and filed his papers two or three days before the September 12th election deadline. David Donnelly estimates the market value of an approved Midhurst Secondary Plan at $40-billion.


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.”


Celebration of Rural Living with Margaret Atwood: Do something bigger than yourself.

June 25, 2014

Images from the June 22nd event in Midhurst.

P1080590

Margaret Atwood says to write Premier Wynne a hand-written letter asking her to overturn the legal loophole.

P1080622

Dale Goldhawk as a master of master of ceremonies.

P1080575

World class environmental lawyer, David Donnelly. “According to my math, and I could be wrong, some stand to make $40 BILLION from this development. Spending 10% is still $4 BILLION! And how do communities like Midhurst defend themselves? By selling cookies and planters. That’s bake sale justice and it has to stop!” — at Wrico Hosteins Farm, Midhurst. Source

P1080600

Generously answering questions.

Atwood crowd

A crowd of 400. “The Voice of southern Georgian Bay”, 97.7 The Beach podcast.

P1080552

P1080559

P1080557

Coverage by CTV Barrie.

Atwood says it’s time now for Kathleen Wynne’s government to deliver on addressing what they called an environment priority.

“So with this as a priority for your government – why would you let the most important wetland in Ontario be destroyed?”

P1080562

Springwater Park – Camp Nibi drum circle.

P1080574

John and Mary Lou Bacher

Atwood2

Globe and Mail coverage: Margaret Atwood joins fight against planned housing development.

P1080633

***

YouTube of Atwood’s talk.

  • Change: good, bad and idiotic…Ontario Liberal party responds to Ducks Unlimited Canada…The Turnip has nothing against poop…10,000 new homes on Class 1 and 2 farmland…treated effluent into Minesing Wetlands…many red lights bypassed by “special legislation”…some bright bunny…threatened lawsuits and toe removal (toe part was a joke)…cottagers concerns…no jobs…
  • cui bonoto whose benefit?…”fine words butter no parsnips”…special loophole…
  • Will Premier Wynne stop this idiotic plan?: “I have faith that she will”.

Bigger than yourself


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 (stopspringwatersprawl.com).

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 SpringwaterParkcc.org and voteLesStewart.ca.


Springwater Township councillor Perry Ritchie and Dr. Kahneman suggest: If there is time, slowing down is likely to be a good idea.

April 23, 2014

Professor Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel laureate and an expert in decision-making. Mr. Perry showed again last night at Council that is a man of character and not easily SLAPPed into irrationality.

Daniel Kahneman

Why are 5 of 7  votes on Council continuing to not just green-light but help the acceleration of the the clearly catastrophic (ie. economically, socially, and environmentally) Midhurst Secondary Plan? I would suggest Dr. Kahneman has some answers.

Bully Tactic: trigger the councillors’ fear of losing their own homes and life savings in Anten Mills, Midhurst, Elmvale and Grenfel in a never-before seen-in-Ontario “+$100-million lawsuit” that is “probable”. Don’t just intimidate a few militant ratepayers through phoney lawsuiits or just Council: intimidate all 18,000 voters in Springwater Township.

Mechanism: A Toronto lawyer’s very, very, very carefully crafted, verbal opinion. A +$100-million figment of a attorney’s imagination. A deeply cynical “Trap for the Trusting”. A situation engineered to scare the shit (and sense) out of the perfectly competent rural representatives who are cast into a situation that is well-beyond their own abilities to comprehend or even know they don’t understand.

Kahneman Quotes:

People just hate the idea of losing. Any loss, even a small one, is just so terrible to contemplate that they compensate by buying insurance, including totally absurd policies like air travel.

Human beings cannot comprehend very large or very small numbers. It would be useful for us to acknowledge that fact.

We’re blind to our blindness. We have very little idea of how little we know. We’re not designed to know how little we know.

And most especially:

Courage is willingness to take the risk once you know the odds. Optimistic overconfidence means you are taking the risk because you don’t know the odds. It’s a big difference.

At Stake: Almost 200 years of community building, 1,900 acres of prime farmland, political self-determination based on local financial control, irreplaceable biodiversity in the Minesing Wetlands: all lost because 5 individuals chose to listen to their fears and enemies instead of their friends, family: their hearts and minds. Their faith.

This may be their legacy: a failure to meet and master their life’s work.

An unwillingness to be a leader who trusts we could do this as a community.

 


Midhurst Secondary Plan: Is a sprawl developer lawsuit to be feared or welcomed by current Springwater Township ratepayers?

April 17, 2014

Skillfully managed, it should be welcomed as a way to get to the truth.

Bullying stops here

Fact: the settlement rate for civil lawsuits in Ontario is over 96%. It’s always been about hard-nosed business negotiations.

I do not know about you, but I trust an Ontario Superior Court Justice 100 times more that I do either any politician (federal, provincial, or municipal) or the Ontario Municipal Board.

Every cent spent defending a township-wide SLAPP lawsuit is money well-spent as a way to get to the truth.

Every responsible adult knows the cheapest and best route is to call the 1st bully’s bluff.

Otherwise, you’re just advertising your own cowardice to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. corporate bullies.


%d bloggers like this: