The Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association receives a prestigious Ontario-wide honour this fall: the Margaret and Nicholas Cultural Heritage Landscape Award

December 16, 2015

The Architectural Conservancy Ontario acknowledges the great work the MRA has done to fight for the preservation of the natural and built landscape.

ACO logo1. Congratulations to our 2015 Award Winners

…Margaret and Nicholas Hill Cultural Heritage Landscape Award
Save Midhurst Village

Sandy Buxton, David Strachan, and Margaret Prophet (Midhurst Ratepayer’s Association)
Source

2. From the Barrie Advance Midhurst Ratepayers group wins award:

According to the architectural conservancy, the ratepayers’ group continues to work to preserve the agricultural heritage as development through ongoing community awareness, as well as a June 2014 event featuring novelist Margaret Atwood and the change.org petition, which garnered more than 45,000 signatures.

3. Award Details

Margaret and Nicholas Hill Cultural Heritage Landscape Award:
Named for Margaret and Nicholas Hill, this award recognizes an individual, group, or project that has heightened awareness and appreciation of Ontario’s significant landscapes, or endeavoured to preserve a noteworthy example of the product of human interaction.

Nicholas and Margaret Hill contributed extensively to the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, from the early 1970s until Nick’s untimely death in 2001 and Margaret’s recent retirement as provincial secretary. The couple were among the second generation of those who shaped and helped expand the organization. Nick was ACO’s President from 1986 to 1987, and initiated the Huron County Branch, which was active in Goderich for two decades. Both he and Margaret were later involved with the Cambridge branch, and Margaret continues to serve as secretary of the Guelph and Wellington Branch.

Nick received a degree in Architecture from the University of Leicester in Britain, another in Urban Planning from the University of Toronto, and later, yet a third, in Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph. He is the only person known to have simultaneously held professional licences in Ontario in all three disciplines. As a planner and subsequently a partner in Hill & Borgal Architects, Goderich, he was a pioneer in heritage conservation district planning, and the author of the second and third such plans written for Bayfield and Goderich.

In 1983, he moved to London to work in private practice until being hired as heritage planner for the City of St. John, New Brunswick. The illustrated guides he produced there are still in use and continue to be cherished. A superb pen-and-ink renderer of heritage buildings and neighbourhoods, his drawings are unexcelled in representing the character of communities and landscapes. He was the author of several books illustrating the heritage and character of his beloved Huron County.

Ultimately, he returned to Guelph, where he became renowned for his work on a variety of sites and heritage districts. After 1985, he and Margaret worked together on numerous heritage district studies and plans. Those most concerned with cultural landscapes include the Village of Blair in Cambridge, and the Village of Doon and the Victoria Park Neighbourhood, both in Kitchener. All were illustrated with Nick’s superb drawings, creating some of the most complete and artistic documents representing the character of communities and landscapes. Source

 


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.


Who is Alex Nuttall’s right hand man in Midhurst?

December 9, 2013

From this picture at least, it is Mr. David Strachan, president of the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association.

Strachan Nuttall

David Strachan, Alex Nuttall, Sandy Buxton and Aidan Grove-White (left to right)

Other individuals quoted in AWARE Simcoe’s coverage, Growth will Really Pay for Growth: Nuttall,  were:

  • Mr. Jack Hanna, current Ward 5 councillor (Midhurst), Township of Springwater,
  • Mr. Aidan Grove-White, Environmental Defence Canada,
  • Ms. Sandy Buxton, Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association, and
  • Mr. Patrick Brown MP Barrie.

Organizations who attended: North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance, Angus Ratepayers’ Association and Nottawasaga Steelheaders.

Cross-posted on SpringwaterParkcc.org.


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 weakness.iLoveMidhurst.ca, 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 SpringwaterParkcc.org.

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:


Will there be a “reform” Ward 5 (Midhurst) candidate for councillor in Springwater Township in the next municipal election on Oct 27, 2014?

December 5, 2013

History suggests that this perception is useful for the 1 per cent.

Springwater ward 5a

Relatively few people will make hundreds of millions of $ because of the presently defined and future sprawl resulting from the Midhurst Secondary Plan and annexation stays as a “Done Deal”.

  • One family stands to lose $4,000,000  if it is defeated.

If the economic/political elite act as gatekeepers primarily for their self-interest as some have written,  Does township chief magistrate history suggest the next very, very charming Midhurst councillor will be able to deliver the Necessary Illusion of the trying to defeat the Midhurst Secondary Plan?

Last 4 mayors of Springwater Township (present to 1994)

Linda Collins mayor

Linda Collins

Tony Guergis

Tony Guergis *

John Brown

John Brown *

helen coutts

Helen Coutts *

An asterick (*) means they also served as Warden at the County of Simcoe.

Source

Cross posted on SpringwaterParkcc.org.


StopSpringwaterSprawl.com

November 14, 2013

Springwater Township, Ontario, Canada

Thesis:

  1. The Midhurst Secondary Plan, MSP is a violation of provincial growth plans.
  2. The Province of Ontario broke their own rules when they dropped the appeal of 50 per cent of the MSP.
  3. The closing of Springwater Provincial Park and the MSP are related.
  4. The MSP is the tip-of-the-iceberg of the “unofficial” plan for Simcoe County.
  5. Barrie will annex Springwater Township (attempt to resolve 1. to 4.).

Assumption:

Short-term concentrated corporate interests can temporarily subvert provincial, county, and township representative democracies (diffused power). All taxpayers will pay in the long-term for this multi-level opportunism (deceit with self-interest) delivered via credence good providers.

Old Midhurst RoadTerry Craig

Analyses:

Cross-posted on SpringwaterParkcc.org.


Sprawl that threatens Springwater Park & Minesing Wetlands demands provincial Growth Plan enforcement.

September 12, 2013

Looking the other way will destroy south Simcoe County, the “jewel in the crown” of Ontario.

Black Creek Estates sign

A timely and extremely powerful article welds the Midhurst sprawl plan, the degradation of Willow Creek and Minesing Wetlands and the abandonment of Springwater Park issues together. Dr. John Bacher of the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society, PALS in St. Catharines writes: Provincial Action Puts Springwater Park at Risk: Occupiers Stand Up For the Land pdf newsletter

Excerpt:

The ongoing April 1st 2013 native occupation of the 193 hectare Springwater Provincial Park in Springwater Township, Simcoe County, was a dramatic response to a Provincial down grade of this wonderful park’s status from “operational” to “non-operational”. These First Nations leaders, led by Elizabeth Brass Elson of the Beausoleil First Nation, have taken a dramatic stand which illustrates how the conservationist achievements of the past are being put at risk today. Their action presents a beacon of hope to those who care for the predominately agricultural landscape of Southern Ontario, appropriately afforested to secure ecological balance by Edmund Zavitz, the “Father of Modern Forestry”.

What the change of status for this park means, is that the gate to the park is locked and vehicles cannot enter. The magnificent picnic pavilion, which in the past was used as a showcase for the wonders of a recreational forest in a former blow sand desert, would have become the parks equivalent of a ghost town if not for the occupation. There is no longer any maintenance of the 12 kilometres of wheelchair accessible trails, 11 of which are designed to facilitate cross country skiing; garbage collection in the park has ceased; and, all the comfort stations have been closed.

One of the basic motivational reasons for the occupation has been the fate of other down graded Provincial Parks, which are now effectively unregulated and empty Crown Land, in heavily populated southern Ontario, where intensive park patrols and maintenance have been removed. In such circumstances Crown Lands have been vandalized by criminal elements such as motorcycle gangs. This can be especially damaging in a forest planted on top of re-claimed desert sand and vulnerable to being ripped up by off road vehicles. It is quite reasonable to expect that in such circumstances, situations can arise to encourage the sale of degraded park land.

Most of the 200 “non-operational parks” in Ontario are in the north, where pressures for vandalism are less severe because of the much lower population density. In this regard, it is astonishing that of the 10 provincial parks originally proposed to be closed by the Provincial government in 2012, Springwater was the only southern park that was closed and while the Province backed down on its proposal to make four northern parks “non-operational”, it refused to alter its stance in this case.

Severe Development Pressures in the Springwater Park Area
There are also severe development pressures around Springwater Provincial Park. As I noted in the Spring newsletter I viewed these quite vividly a few weeks before the park closure. Immediately across a road from the park there was a sign on a piece of private land announcing the new development of Black Creek Estate [of Snow Valley], which had also been afforested into White and Red Pine by the Provincial Government. It is 261 acres in extent, more than half the size of the provincial park. The sign indicated that the zoning was to be changed from environmental protection to residential and it is designated for 101 units, all of which is in direct violation of the Provincial Growth Plan. Development on this scale would require sewers, where there currently are none, a problem resolved through a “pre-servicing agreement.” This illustrates the concern of Midhurst Ratepayers Association which is battling sprawl in the area, for fear that development here would pollute Willow Creek and the Minesing Wetlands.

The proposal for a subdivision in a forest next to a Provincial park is just one element in the massive urban sprawl proposed in the Midhurst Secondary Plan. This threatens both the park and other areas of land afforested by the provincial government’s conservationist actions over many years and now being poorly managed as Crown Lands. The Plan proposes urban development on 1,700 acres of agricultural land, which would boost the population of the village of Midhurst from 3,500 to nearly 28,000. The Provincial Government did appeal this document to the Ontario Municipal Board, (OMB), however, it did not show up at the hearing this summer, and the Midhurst Ratepayers Association was defeated by the Township of Springwater, Simcoe County and developers.

Bacher Springwater Wilson Drive Black Creek

Mess in Midhurst Reveals Non-Enforcement of Growth Plan.
The First Nations occupation of Springwater Park and the hammer blow of the OMB against the Midhurst Ratepayers Association this summer, reveal the biggest problem with land use planning in Ontario. This is the non-enforcement of the Growth Plan, which was brought in simultaneously in 2005, when the Greenbelt was proclaimed by the Province.

The basic reason behind the Growth Plan is to prevent leap frogging beyond the areas that are supposed to be protected from sprawl by the Greenbelt. It applies to southern Niagara Waterloo Region and Simcoe County. Last month the Provincial Government brought in a slightly amended version of the Growth Plan, which drew the ire of some environmentalists and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture who felt the Plan was being diluted. However, from the viewpoint of those such as PALS, who are engaged in the struggle to protect agriculturally and environmentally zoned land from sprawl, the towering barrier to these ends, has been the nonenforcement of existing growth plan policies.

For instance, a cornerstone of the Growth Plan was supposed to be confinement of any urban expansion to the urban centre of Barrie. There was an Amendment One to the Growth Plan introduced, but this was only to provide more room for the Town of Alliston. The Province, in violation of the Growth Plan’s provisions, through the blunt instrument of a Ministerial Zoning Order, then rammed through an urban expansion in Bradford to facilitate box stores along an expressway.

As mentioned before, the Province, to its credit, did launch an appeal of the Midhurst Secondary Plan. However, in a black day for land use planning it withdrew part of its appeal to permit the construction of 5,000 new homes. As a result some 300 hectares are now eligible for urban expansion. In response, the Midhurst Ratepayers Association made an appeal to the OMB, and hired the former director of planning for Simcoe County, Ian Bender, (a former St. Catharines City planner, who PALS had often worked with ), as their expert witness.

Bender’s testimony to the OMB vividly illustrates how Midhurst’s carefully restored landscape of farmland and forests are at risk from sprawl. He indicated that until now “development has generally expanded the settlement area to its limits as defined by the adjacent highway and surrounding agricultural and environmental lands.” He also testified how the proposed boundary expansion would far exceed the allocations that the Province has established for the area under the Growth Plan.

In making its decision dismissing the Midhurst Ratepayers Association appeal the OMB did not dispute any of Bender’s conclusions regarding the violation of the Growth Plan, but threw his strong evidence out on procedural grounds.

The Midhurst fiasco shows the inherit weakness of the assumptions behind the Growth Plan. This is the folly of relying on the OMB to regulate local municipal planning in the countryside . The only way that these landscapes can be protected is through provincially developed planning as shown by the Niagara Escarpment Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Act, and now, the Greenbelt Act. The Growth Plan’s reliance on the OMB is simply a fog under which behind- the- scenes the machinations of developers are hidden.

Bacher Springwater Black Creek Estates

The basic reason why all of the currently agriculturally and environmentally zoned lands that are supposed to be protected by the Growth Plan should be incorporated into the much stronger Greenbelt, emerged unexpectedly in 2009 comments by Victor Doyle, a planner with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and what happened as a result. In his role commenting on proposed zoning and official plan changes under the Growth Plan, Doyle made the following comment: “South Simcoe County, long known as the ‘jewel in the crown’ is completely ill-suited for major urbanization on the Lake Simcoe and Nottawasaga Basins that are small and slow moving receiving bodies which simply cannot sustain the environmental impacts associated with what is a Greater Toronto Area scale of subdivision.” Shortly after these comments were penned Doyle was shuffled away from supervising land use planning in Simcoe County.

Dr. John Bacher is a member of the Advisory Council of the Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition.

Cross-posted from SpringwaterParkcc.org.


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