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.

 


John Ralston Saul’s new book is very good news for those wanting to understand the future of Springwater Park.

October 26, 2014

To explain Canada’s fundamental Métis  past, read Sauls’ A Fair Country.

Penguin JRS1

I suggest his The Comeback will go a long way to explaining our future and how Springwater Park fits within this important national dialogue.

Posted on SpringwaterParkcc.org.


First Memorial Zavitz-Drury bike ride, this Sunday, October 5

October 3, 2014

A very good way to celebrate our magnificent county forestry heritage

drury-zavitz-a

What: First Memorial Zavitz-Drury bike ride

When: Sunday October 5 at 10:30 am (weather permitting)

Where: meet at Spence Ave and Hwy 27 (ball diamond parking lot, Midhurst) and ride to Finlay Mill Rd, across Wattie Rd, down St. Vincent, left onto Pooles Rd, right onto Old 2nd S, left onto Partridge Rd. then down Penetanguishene Road to the plaque that marks the original Drury farm in Crown Hill. More info 705-424-7589

Alliston Herald article

Alliston Herald
September 22, 2014

Perfect season to bike through Simcoe County forests
Letter to the Editor
Anne Learn Sharpe

LETTER – The season is turning, leaves are showing hints of brilliance against the backdrop of dark pines — and it’s the perfect time for a bike ride. The story of the pine forests of Simcoe County begins with a very long bike ride.

In October of 1905, Edmund Zavitz, who was teaching forestry at the agricultural college in Guelph, set out on his bicycle and rode to Crown Hill north of Barrie to meet E. C. Drury, farmer and fellow conservationist. Their collaboration over the following decades led to the reforestation of Ontario.

In his book Two Billion Trees and Counting, John Bacher describes what the cutting and burning of trees had done to Ontario in the early 20th century: farmland had turned to blowsand and was drifting away, water sources had dried up and serious floods were becoming more common. Edmund Zavitz started planting trees. During E. C. Drury’s term as premier, 1919 to 1923, along with a team of colleagues, the two men created policies and projects to involve farmers and land owners in planting hardy red and white pines as pioneer species. These trees gradually held the soil in place and stored water to nourish further growth and prevent floods.

This is history we don’t hear enough about. What better way to commemorate it than with a bike ride? This October before you put away your bike for the season, plan a ride to one of the many places in Simcoe County where Zavitz and Drury left their mark. Any of the county forests would be a fine destination. Springwater Park was once the Midhurst Reforestation Station. Here in Angus, we have the Ontario Tree Seed Plant, and across the road Angus Community Park, once a part of the plant. In Crown Hill on the Penetanguishene Road, a plaque marks the site of the original Drury farm.

Zavitz and Drury left us a legacy of natural spaces that sustain our lives in countless ways. And they left us a strategy: don’t cut too many trees and be sure to plant many more than you cut—in other words, conservation. Their gift was meant to be enjoyed and passed on to next generations—it’s up to us to see that it is. Like Edmund Zavitz, we could start with a bike ride.

Anne Learn Sharpe,
Angus

Posted on SpringwaterParkcc.org.


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


What would it take to invite Joseph Boyden and John Ralston Saul to visit the Minesing Wetlands?

April 16, 2014

I believe they eat: so keeping 1,900 acres of Ontario foodland producing food is worth a look.

Joseph Boyden Orenda

That Springwater Park – Camp Nibi may be evolving into an internationally-significant Anishinaabe and Midewiwin Lodge teaching and healing centre .

John Ralston Saul Dark Diversions

And they may also know Margaret Atwood who is helping out with a petition.


What? The degradation of the Minesing Wetlands will NOT be part of the Midhurst Secondary Plan environmental sprawl study?

April 15, 2014

Incredibly but nonetheless consistently, the law of gravity is being suspended to make the “Geranium Rule” whole.

Bill French, after outlining the environmental importance of the Minesing Wetlands in Minesing Wetlands: What are we thinking?, pdf goes on making more sense:

Simple question. How can any Environmental Assessment Study (EA) not include the impact on this sensitive system? Currently the Midhurst EA 3 and 4 study is to look only at the effluent discharge impact on Willow Creek. Hello! The Willow Creek drains into the Minesing Wetlands which connects to the Nottawasaga River which discharges at Wasaga Beach and into Georgian Bay. Why do these new EA studies not include everything that ultimately will be negatively affected by the discharge of two million litres a day?

And why is Springwater Township caving in to the legal bullies at the Ontario Municipal Board (ie. the developers demand zoning before the EAs are done so sue by going to OMB)?

The township is at a pivot point. Get involved and protect the natural habitat of the many species found in the Minesing Wetlands. Once it is gone, there will be no turning back. Find out who is running for the various positions on council and ask them the challenging questions. It is not too late to reverse the dangerous course that this and the last council have initiated.

The best movie I’ve ever seen about litigation is A Civil Action.

Find out which new township politicians have the knowledge, experience, and character to use it properly; to protect your “community of communities” rather than the outsiders.

“Your Honour, you are asking these people to create a fiction that will stand for the truth but won’t be the truth.”

Disclosure.

Posted on SpringwaterParkcc.org.

A major head waters of the Minesing Wetlands (see RAMSAR Convention) is in Springwater Park.


Springwater Park draws thousands of winter visitors….and +$110,000 in private and public support!

April 10, 2014

The winter is an exceptionally busy time at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi: both inside and out.

P1000633

In the Barrie Advance, Group raises cash to help reopen Springwater Park:

A year of uncertainty about Springwater Park’s future has sown the seeds — and cash — for meaningful talks on a partnership to reopen the facility.

The Springwater Park Foundation has so far raised $103,000 and it’s putting its cash where its mouth is as it plans talks with the province’s Natural Resources Ministry.

Springwater resident Nancy Bigelow:

Now that the money’s set aside, Springwater Park Foundation chairperson Nancy Bigelow said she’s working to set a date to meet with the ministry. She can tell stories of people who have come to appreciate the park, which the ministry had said was experiencing a drop in visitors.

“You have to walk in, but it’s absolutely gorgeous. There are trails and plenty of people. On the weekends, it’s packed. All through the winter, there were snowshoers and cross-country skiers. It’s been impressive,” Bigelow said.

Snow clear 94

Our Anishinaabe friends continued their ceremonies all winter long:

“There won’t be so many overnight times. We’re not moving back in, but we’ll be doing ceremonies and teaching,” said the group’s Elizabeth Brass Elson. “We’re Camp Nibi and we plan on staying there forever. We haven’t finished our initiative.”

P1000829

And finally:

Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition founder Les Stewart said talks are still ongoing and Springwater Township has set aside $10,000 to help reopen the park if an agreement is reached.

Running for deputy mayor of Springwater, Stewart said he’s keeping a keen eye on the park and efforts to reopen it.

“The park is in great shape and people have been using it all winter. We’re looking forward to an announcement from the MNR,” he said.

 


%d bloggers like this: