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.

 


She said I could smile if I wanted.

April 2, 2017

I said thanks;

I am.


When is Springwater Township planning to demolish or “decommission” the Midhurst Community Centre?

April 8, 2016

Sometimes it helps to ask politicians, in writing, important questions.

Springwater Council Web

(l) Don Allen, Perry Ritchie, Katy Austin, Bill French, Sandy McConkey, Jennifer Coughlin, Jack Hanna

1. Email from author to Midhurst ward councillor (Mr. Jack Hanna), Township of Springwater

FROM: Les Stewart
TO: Jack Hanna <jack.hanna@springwater.ca>
CC: Bill French <Bill.French@springwater.ca>
DATE: 24 March 2016 at 11:31
SUBJECT: Midhurst Sports and Wellness Centre proposal

Mr. Jack Hanna
Councillor Ward 5
Township of Springwater

Mr. Hanna,

I would appreciate an update on the Township’s evaluation of this proposal.

I would also like to have an opportunity for a meeting so that I can make sure my facts are correct about how this proposal will affect the Midhurst Community Centre at 74 Doran Road, Midhurst.

Regards,

Les Stewart

2. Response from Mayor French

FROM: Bill French

TO: Les Stewart, Jack Hanna

CC: Ron Belcourt <Ron.Belcourt@springwater.ca>, (Director of Recreation, Parks & Properties)

Robert Brindley <Robert.Brindley@springwater.ca> (Chief Administrative Officer)

DATE: 24 March 2016 at 11:51

Les:
It was referred to staff for feedback. It will not be reviewed until we finalize our Master Recreation Plan which will not be complete until later this year.
Before the advancement of any idea or concept, it would be subject to rigorous review and public input. But at the same time we commend people that have ideas that try to enhance our various communities.
Appreciate your interest.

Best Regards

Bill

Bill French
Mayor
Township of Springwater
2231 Nursery Road
Minesing, ON L0L 1Y2
P 705-728-4784 ext. 2040
F 705-728-6957
C 705-718-7031 or
416-587-7030

 

3. Reply by author

FROM:: Les Stewart
TO: Bill French
CC: Jack Hanna, Ron Belcourt, Robert Brindley
DATE: 24 March 2016 at 12:05

Mayor French,

Thank you for the update.

I take from this that the proposal, which called for demolishing the Midhurst Community Hall by fall 2016, will not be happening.

I have attached a current Springwater News article by Ruth Byers.  She notes Midhurst and many township residents had worked very hard to preserve 164 years of continuous civic building presence. It may be of interest to the Corporation that the Midhurst United, St. Paul’s Anglican and Midhurst Baptist churchs rented the Doran Road facilities while their congregations struggled, successfully, to construct their own buildings in our community.

Considering the season, it’s nice that the current church congregation renting (Old Apostolic Lutheran Church) won’t become homeless by this administration.

At least for now, eh?

Regards, Les

4. Mr. Jack Hanna comments.

FROM: Jack Hanna
TO: Bill French, Les Stewart
CC: Ron Belcourt, Robert Brindley
DATE: 24 March 2016 at 16:39

Mr Les Stewart
Further to the response from Mayor French you will note in the Draft Recreation Master Plan a recommendation to “decommission the Midhurst Community Centre” my objection to this is part of the public record.

Regards,
Jack Hanna
Councillor Ward 5

Meeting asked for….meeting…

Therefore, the French administration, staff & councillors seems to be pleased with the accuracy of the traditional and social media coverage.

Posted also on SpringwaterParkcc.org.


Will the City of Barrie sell their water supply and wastewater assets to a private corporation?

October 15, 2014

In January 2009, the city’s electrical utility (Barrie Hydro) merged with PowerStream Inc.

PowerStream-Georgian-College-1304181

Jeff Lehman, PowerStream Board member and Mayor of the City of Barrie, along with Brian Bentz, PowerStream President and CEO, present cheque for $250,000, in support of Georgian College’s solar power-assisted electric vehicle charging station project, to MaryLynn West-Moynes, Georgian College President and CEO and Gwen Strachan, Georgian College Board Chair.

The current 2 Barrie members of the 13 member board are Mayor Jeff Lehman and Councillor Lynn Strachan. Collingwood was added in August 2012.

Jeff Lehman Sandra Cooper

Done deal: Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper and Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman shake hands to formally announce the creation of Collus Powerstream.

Many Barrie residents have found that their monthly bills have doubled since that time.

  • Will Barrie sell off their water utilities too?

And does this have anything to do with the Midhurst Secondary Plan’s potential to start a trans-watershed, county-wide water supply and wastewater treatment network of pipes?


Springwater township’s “No-show candidates”: Let them cry their hot tears of oppression elsewhere.

October 9, 2014

Mayor Linda Collins and Deputy Mayor Dan McLean and former Simcoe County Warden and township Mayor Tony Guergis decide to boycott an all-candidates’ meeting this week.

No showers linda collins tony guergis dan mcleanNoelle takes them to the rhetorical woodshed:

There is more than a drop of irony in the failure of pro-MSP Candidates to appear for the All Candidates Meeting last night

Once again the pro-MSP brigade showed a remarkable capacity to simultaneously display duplicity, self-pity, and more than a little irony at last night’s All Candidates Meeting in Snow Valley. Speaking via a common spokesperson, Brenda Stanley, the candidates, including Linda Collins, Tony Guergis and Dan MacLean, cited concerns about the transparency and neutrality of the organizers, AWARE Simcoe, as reason for withdrawing from the public meeting.

This allegation, and the act of public theatre through which it was delivered, raises an eyebrow for several reasons.

First off, the peculiar timing of Kathleen Wynne’s letter to incumbent Mayor Linda Collins, arriving, as it did on the day of a much-anticipated open public forum, begs the question: if Collins has had access to this back channel, why did she apparently fail to seize this opportunity to ask the Premier the question residents have been loudly demanding – Will you review the MSP? Instead, Wynne’s response that the province “has no plan to review the Midhurst Secondary Plan or Special Rule in the Transition Regulation,” suggests the Premier had not been invited to take, or defend a position on this issue. The only way to find out, of course, is if Collins would release the unedited email correspondence with Wynne. Without doing so, there seems no compelling reason to believe she has shifted her long-standing pattern of seemingly representing developer interests over the concerns of residents.

The irony is stark, coming from the clutch of candidates who now allege preferential treatment of their opponents by the organizers of last night’s meeting. Clearly, this faction not only had prior knowledge of Wynne’s letter, but took it upon itself to plan and coordinate its exemption from the meeting, surprising other candidates as much as it did those residents who came expecting a long-awaited, honest and unfiltered discussion.

Pity the candidates who narrowly escaped being ganged up upon, and torn limb-from-bloody-limb last night, by committed, truth-seeking residents. They have clearly insulated themselves from the democratic process for so long that they no longer recognize it when it comes up to shake them by the hand. More than that, they have come to fear it, and to fear any encounter where they are not able control and limit public participation.

Let’s also address the allegation that the organizers shared questions in advance with its preferred candidates. AWARE Simcoe has unequivocally denied this allegation, and pointed to measures it took to guarantee the neutral facilitation of the meeting. But let’s assume for a moment, they did plant questions. Surely none of the questions would have been unpredictable to incumbents who are presumably, by now, well versed in all the issues? Or were they out of their depth? Perhaps they feared pointed, negative questions by their opponents, in which case, the most suspicious response is silence.

Overall, the sense of entitlement displayed by sitting out this singular opportunity to recharge the local democratic process, is dwarfed only by the repugnant stench of self-pity. The pro-MSP faction would have you believe, after its long unbroken history as apparent mouthpiece to the developer, that it has become the victim of an unfair attack. Let’s get one thing straight – oppression happens when power and authority is exercised unjustly – for instance, in the case where a corporation uses its undue power and influence to affect land use policy, it is the local and adjacent residents and environments that are oppressed. It’s not oppression if the pro-MSP faction suddenly feels the tide of public opinion turning against it – that’s just democracy at work, thanks to power of citizen mobilization.

Let’s not joke. The Midhurst Secondary Plan has become the pivotal and polarizing issue of this election, because it defines two very different visions for this Township; and that is only right, because its vast implications are dead serious for Springwater as well as for neighbouring Townships that benefit from Springwater’s environment, that are tied into its rural economy and food production system, that share its road networks, and that would experience exponential demand on services, were the MSP to go ahead.

And finally, let’s not fuel the ridiculous pretence, that excluding oneself from hard public questioning is anything other than an act of political manipulation. This considered (in)action on the part of the pro-MSP brigade displays an utter lack of regard for the democratic process. Let them cry their hot tears of oppression elsewhere.

These opinions belong to Noelle Rancourt, indignant nearby (and former) Springwater resident, and do not reflect the views of any group or organization.

Related articles:


The greater threat for land loss in Springwater Township is from selling the MNR and Simcoe County forests

August 20, 2014

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry are the monopoly seller of all crown and park land in Ontario. Through a wholly-owned subsidiary (Ontario Parks) and their crown holdings, they control 33.9% of the forests in south Springwater Township

Springwater land use map

Simcoe County administrators and politicians can sell 926.6 hectares of forests or 50% of the total 1,854.6 ha.

MSP county mnrf forests 2

Who you elect as Mayor and Deputy Mayor this October 27th will automatically get appointed to sit on county council. This is especially crucial for the Springwater Township electorate.

  • Only 16.2% of the true “enemy” of farmland is the Midhurst Secondary Plan.

The big money real estate action is in in destroying the forests for a 2nd time.

Let’s not forget that the county forests are called: The Lungs of the GTA.


What legal duty of care does Springwater Township CAO Robert Brindley have to the citizens of Springwater Township?

July 6, 2014

Virtually none.

Robert Brindley Springwater Township CAO

His job as Chief Administrative Officer is to implement the will corporation’s Chief Executive Officer, Mayor Linda Collins.

If a breach of duty exists, it rests on the CEO and the elected officials who passed the motion (see Bill French on AWARE Simcoe: A dark day for Springwater). Oddly if they are so sure of themselves, not one of the current elected officials has registered as a candidate in this fall’s municipal election. Mr. French does not overstate the imminent danger to our beautiful rural “community of communities”.

Not Within Mr. Brindley’s Job Description: sky-high future property taxes, continued bullying by developers, unprecedented use of debt financing which will be used to trigger a “useful crisis” (goal: Barrie annexation), and destruction of the Minesing Wetlands. He does the television interviews and makes very, very strong and breathtakingly broad statements because (presumably) he was told to do so the current council leadership.

My Promise (no Golden parachutes): If elected as deputy mayor in the fall, I would not interfere with any senior staff”s decision to leave for greener pastures. Of course if there are contracts in place which pay the exiting executives big $ for little or no value to the Corporation, I may have to write about that so as to assign more accurately everyone’s reputation for accountability, transparency, and “truthiness”.

I support the future provincial investigation (judicial enquiry, ON Ombudsman, etc.) into the events leading up to the Midhurst Secondary Plan.

Posted on voteLesStewart.ca.


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