Are the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association and Environmental Defence either incompetent or co-opted financially as activists?

December 7, 2013

Was today’s event a bought-and-paid-for publicity stunt to increase the next Conservative candidate’s profile in new Barrie-Oro-Springwater (Midhurst) riding with the first federal election being in Oct 2015? MRA Nuttall Strachan1 Did money donated to the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association, MRA and Environmental Defence Canada, EDC go toward the cost of this event or was the money from another source? Are either or both of them shills for a political party that represents pro-development or can any interest group buy their brand? I recall the MRA accusing the Township of Springwater for calling  short notice and scheduling information sessions at unbelievably difficult times for citizens to attend. They then said there were “extensive good faith consultations”. Who paid for the show today?

1. Extremely Short Notice: I received the bulk email from the MRA last night 11:18 pm (Dec 6th). That would have given me 13 hours to re-arrange my Saturday afternoon. Oddly, the  EDC media advisory also had a very short media fuse as well: out  Dec 6th.

And, to boot, the ED communique mentioned a federal MP (Mr. Patrick Brown Barrie) would be attending although (1) Midhurst is in the Simcoe-Grey riding (Hon. Dr. Kellie Leitch MP) and (2) growth and sprawl are a provincial not a federal jurisdiction. Shouldn’t Jim Wilson MPP Simcoe-Grey who is the 2nd most powerful Conservative in the Hudak caucus (or even Rod Jackson), be explaining growth issues to his own constituents?

I would have gone to it because I would have loved to ask some questions of David Strachan, president of the Midhurst Ratepayers’, Alex Nuttall, City of Barrie Ward 10 councillor (farthest south and east ward in Barrie, rumoured MP hopeful) and EDC. I believe I am a member in good standing and have contributed financially to both the MRA and EDC. 2. Missing Article: In fact, I wrote the only article about the Midhurst Secondary Plan for EDC at the request of their Claire Malcolmson. It was called Midhurst Secondary Plan: Village to grow 10 times? and was published on their weblog on February 13, 2012. When I tried clicking through on the URL that I had listed as a pdf this is the image that came up:

ED Search1

So as an author I no longer have access to the article? I also tried searching ED’s blog with the title and my name, but no luck. Click here for a pdf copy of the article or here for a post that I wrote called: Land speculation and other confidence games have always relied on human, February 14, 2012. David Donnelly 3. ED’s legal counsel is listed as David Donnelly.

He was Executive Director of Environmental Defence Canada from 1988 to 1996 in addition to having been  very involved in the Big Bay Point SLAPP situation as well as many ongoing First Nations issues.

The only federal issue that I am aware of that links Mrs. Brown, Strachan and Donnelly are the ladies at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi Cross-posted on

Les Stewart Gets Results!!

Dec 11, 2013 Update: To give credit where credit is due, Mr. Aidan Grove-White, Environmental Defence Canada, EDC contacted me directly and we had a very productive conversation. He promised to look into the misplaced weblog article and we discussed the lessons I’ve learned about being the subject of two SLAPPs (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)and the reason I resigned as president of the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association (before Dr. Paul Fleming and the current Mr. David Strachan), and other local matters. Full marks for transparency and accountability to EDC and internet monitoring.

This is the only response to this specific post or these two related ones:

Incredibly, no net benefit analysis has ever been done for the Midhurst Secondary Plan.

June 30, 2012

At least for Springwater Township taxpayers who will pay the bill for 30 years.

Faith, confidence, and trust are based on credibility built up over time by a team of professional, competent, and rational managers.

Last Monday night, (see The Examiner coverageDeputy Mayor Dan McLean told the nearly 100 assembled Springwater voters to “trust their council”: they can’t tell them what they’re doing (threat of lawsuit); should trust them because “they’re working very hard on our behalf.”

Permitted to make two deputations and 4 questions (total 30 minutes). Two of seven members of council said anything about the plans to nearly triple the township size, +$250-million in capital expenditures, multi-billion $ housing, a drinking well proposal that is downhill of 900 acres of active farmland (Russell and Story Roads), etc.

Under careful questioning by Dr. Paul Fleming of the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association, Mayor Linda Collins reluctantly admitted that the township had done no economic, cultural or social benefit reports or analyses.

If there is no defined, quantifiable benefit (and very clearly massive financial risks), Who exactly is this council  serving by not changing their Official Plan to exclude +28,000 more people in the Township?

Leadership vacuum demands Midhurst Plan must be altered

April 27, 2012

Just how out-of-focus is Linda Collins’ Springwater Township administration?

You decide:

**  April 16, 2012 — +200 township residents during dinner on a Monday night, respectfully attend their first council meeting with a 1,400 person petition asking for a dialogue


** April 19th — council responds not to their voters but by trying to “spin” the story via the Barrie Examiner.

After professionally waiting for a direct reply from their leader (re: good faith conversation), former councillor Dr. Paul Fleming is forced to respond in a letter to the editor: Midhurst plan must be altered [Word pdf] on April 26, 2012.

The president of the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association explains  how many in the township feel they were duped:

The problem for Midhurst residents is that most of the previous public meetings did not include the number of people expected in the new development.

Instead the impression was created that Midhurst would grow by about 1,000 to 2,000 people over the next 20 years.

It was only a month before council approved the secondary plan that two critical public meetings revealed the true scope of the township’s plans for enormous growth in Midhurst.

Both of these meetings were slipped in near the end of summer of 2008, on Aug. 28 and Sept. 9 [2008].

Lack of Big-Picture Thinking on Residents’ Part?

An additional…

  1. 1,000, or
  2. 2,000, or
  3. 30,000 more people in 20 years?

Is it any wonder why over 200 people showed up to the Midhurst Community Centre on November 29, 2011 and again to their township chambers on April 16, 2012?

What delineates innocent “fuzzy thinking” (incompetence) from intentional electoral misrepresentation [then and now] once the current administration was informed 5-6 months ago?

— see Media stories archive on

The People Speak re: Midhurst Secondary Plan, Special by Bill French

April 27, 2012

An important article appeared in the Springwater News on April 26, 2012 that affects all 18,000 Springwater township residents.

A 1,400 signature was presented to Springwater council on 1 1/2 weeks ago by 200 to 250 concerned township residents. It received widespread regional television and newpaper coverage (see here).

Council’s To Do List: The families asked the Council to do a few things about sprawl in the township: amend or revoke the Midhurst one, don’t spend more tax dollars defending it at the Ontario Municipal Board, hit the reset button on all township mega-developments (Centre Vespra, Hillsdale and Midhrust), start bringing residents to the table for consultations, and stop using the bogey-man of lawsuits as an “reason” for doing a 3rd party’s will rather than the voter’s

The article, Midhurst Secondary Plan – The People Speak by Bill French (click on these for archived copy: Word pdf) goes on presents the current and historical perspective so necessary to understand where and when it was decided that the township would explode to 3 times the size in 20 years.

A crowd of about 200 to 250 people overflowed the council chambers on Monday April 16th to have their voices heard. They were residents of Midhurst along with many other Springwater residents concerned about the direction of recent township councils to, not only allow, but support unbridled and extensive residential development as never before seen in the small township of 18,000 people. A ten minute delegation was made to council with many good facts and information gathered by the organizers and executive of the Midhurst Ratepayers Association. The group presented a petition of over 1400 signatures which represents about one signature for every home that currently exists in the community.

Dr. Paul Fleming was a township Councillor from 1994 to 2000. He was at the table and engaged when…

…the area now proposed for these developments was deemed a study area not a designated growth area when discussed in the late 90’s. According to Mr. Fleming, at best the council at the time imagined in the next 20 years it might grow to 5,000 people. Based on what has occurred to date that makes sense and everyone has seen and supported the progressive and orderly developments that have complimented the existing character of the village. When the settlement area was identified, it was never imagined it would see high density and a large population as part of its future according to Mr. Fleming.

One-time Development charges cause Taxpayers to pay more Taxes, ongoing

…ask all residents in Springwater to pay close attention to these mega developments as the long term tax implications on everyone can be significant as typically the development charges can never keep up with the added services once the ball gets rolling. Mississauga and Barrie both who experience tremendous growth have found that development charges are not fully offsetting new services and continue to invoke significant annual tax hikes. Resources

The Council will act.

Do or do not… there is no try. Yoda

Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association presentation to Springwater township council

April 19, 2012

It’s all about Choice:

  1. Click here to review, copy the presentation if you have Power Point software.
  2. There were a total of 15 slides that you can read below.















Lately, are Springwater Township politicians more like E.C. Drury or “Boss” Hogg?

March 30, 2012

Will time be as kind to this recent crop as she has been to Premier Drury?

Within Springwater Township during the last 20 years, these are the individuals who are perceived to have served others or themselves.

These two extremes can be represented by a local farmer and  a fictional politician.

E.C. Drury: Farmer premier

Ernest Charles Drury (1878 – 1968)

…a farmer, politician and writer who served as the eighth Premier of Ontario, Canada, from 1919 to 1923 as the head of a United Farmers of Ontario – Labour coalition government.

Drury was the grandson of Richard Drury, who arrived in Crown Hill, Ontario from Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England in 1819. His father, Charles Drury, continued the family farm and was a forward-looking farmer who utilized new techniques and technologies. In 1882, he was president of the Agricultural and Arts Association of Ontario. He also served reeve of Oro Township in Simcoe County for 13 years and was elected to the Ontario legislature as an Ontario Liberal Party member where he served from 1882 to 1890, the last two years as the province’s first Minister of Agriculture.

Premier of Ontario
Drury’s progressive government created the first Department of Welfare for the province and brought in allowances for widows and children, a minimum wage for women and standarized adoption procedures.[2] His government also expanded Ontario Hydro, created the Province of Ontario Savings Office – a provincially owned bank that was designed to lend money to farmers at a lower rate – began the first major reforestation program in North America, and initiated construction of the modern highway system. Drury also arranged for a grant for unknown researchers Frederick Banting and Charles Best who would go on to discover insulin.

Boss Hogg: The Dukes of Hazzard

“Boss” Hogg

…is a fictional character featured in the American television series The Dukes of Hazzard. He was the greedy, unethical commissioner of Hazzard County. A stereotypical villainous glutton, Boss Hogg always wore an all-white suit with a white cowboy hat and regularly smoked cigars.

“Boss” Hogg was the wealthiest man in Hazzard County. As his name would imply, Hogg was incredibly greedy. The “Boss” heading is a distant analogy to the corrupt New York City Tammany Hall era politician Boss Tweed. Creator Gy Waldron said he wanted the character to be the personification of the seven deadly sins

Boss is forever angry at the Duke family, particularly Bo and Luke, for continually exposing and halting his various crooked schemes…

Land speculation and other confidence games have always relied on human weakness.

February 14, 2012

Speculation buys up, in a very practical way, the intelligence of those involved.

Environmental Defence asked me to write an article about my take on what’s happening in the Village of Midhurst lately. It was posted yesterday.

I start off Midhurst Secondary Plan: Village to grow 10 times? with:

Midhurst has been a favoured spot to live for several thousands of years. There are 54 documented first nations’ settlement sites within south Springwater Township.

The Midhurst Secondary Plan, MSP, calls for the irreversible, greenfield growth of 10,000 new homes and 28,000 people (currently 1,100 homes, and 3,500 people), the loss of up to 1,300 acres of farmland, and 6 million gallons of wastewater going into Minesing Swamp per day. These changes can happen as quickly or slowly as the developer wants.

I highlighted 7 concerns I hear repeatedly from my neighbours:

  1. Stealth Mode
  2. Public non-Notice
  3. Wastewater worries
  4. Taxes
  5. Farmland loss
  6. Who works for whom?
  7. Litigation

Dr. Paul Fleming and David Strachan of the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association ( are also mentioned.

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