Development within our Protected Wetland Complex – Another Mistake?

By  | January 14, 2015 | 1 Comment | Filed under: Barrie's Lake

Barries Lake winter image

“The Provincial Policy Statement which came into effect March 1, 2005 contains Policy 2.1.2 which reads as follows: The diversity and connectivity of natural features in an area, and the long-term ecological function and biodiversity of natural heritage systems , should be maintained, restored or, where possible, improved, recognizing linkages between and among natural heritage features and areas, surface water features and ground water features.”

The above is an excerpt from http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regionalGovernment/resources/P-05-027.pdf, where Regional Staff explain the significance of needing to protect the Blair-Bechtel-Cruickston Environmentally Sensitive Landscape in 2005. Now in 2015, they are planning to approve City of Cambridge Official Plan and zoning amendments to accommodate development in these same significant areas of West Galt. There are also plans to discharge subdivision stormwater into Barrie’s Lake, Gilholm Marsh, Devil’s Creek and Cruickston Creek. The Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) prohibits the discharge of material into water that may impair water quality. The discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act. Landowners also have “riparian rights” .

In Ontario, there is much happening to protect these valuable resources as the importance of wetlands are being highly recognized. Below are the groups who have gathered together to make a difference by getting the LSCRA (Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority) to come up with a new draft Watershed Development Guideline. We need to encourage our local Grand River Conservation Authority, our City and Regional Council to do the same for Cambridge.

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groups saving wetlands

The LSRCA’s Subdivisions-in-Wetlands Policy

There are 10 Conservation Authorities in Central Ontario. All of them prohibit the building of subdivisions on provincially significant wetlands (PSWs) except the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA).

According to Leo Longo, Senior Partner, Aird & Berlis, LLP, the LSRCA’s Subdivisions-in-Wetlands Policy is “simply illegal and bad policy” since it is inconsistent with the:

  1. Conservation Authorities Act;
  2. Provincial Policy Statement which prohibits

development in PSWs in southern Ontario; and

  1. York Region’s Official Plan which prohibits

development in all wetlands within LSRCA’s jurisdiction.

The Subdivisions-in-Wetlands Policy was created in November 2008 as part of a set of new wetlands policies for the LSRCA. According to the staff report given to the LSRCA Board at that time, the proposed policies would prohibit development in all PSWs. However, this statement was false since these wetland policies, which were approved by the LSRCA Board and incorporated into LSRCA’s overall Watershed Development Policies, actually permit subdivisions in PSWs.

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) was the only stakeholder group consulted by the LSRCA staff with respect to the November 2008 wetlands policies. In particular, LSRCA staff met with Fraser Nelson of Metrus Developments as part of the BILD delegation on May 7, 2008.

The LSRCA did not seek any input from the general public with respect to the 2008 wetland policies, including the Subdivisions-in-Wetlands Policy.

The LSRCA’s Subdivisions-in-Wetlands Policy would permit the LSRCA to issue a Section 28 permit to Metrus Developments to allow it to build a 1,073 unit mobile home subdivision in the Paradise Beach-Island Grove PSW in the North Gwillimbury Forest (NGF) in the Town of Georgina.

This subdivision would drive a stake through the heart of the NGF and split it in two. The NGF is one of the ten largest forests in the Lake Simcoe watershed.

New policy

In May 2013 the David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature, the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, AWARE Simcoe and the North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance (NGFA) asked the LSRCA to repeal its Subdivisions-in-Wetlands Policy. The response of the LSRCA Board was to commission a review of the entire LSRCA Watershed Development Policies.

In June 2014, the LSRCA issued new draft Watershed Development Guidelines which included essentially the same Subdivisions-inWetlands Policy with only cosmetic changes. However, in response to submissions from the NGFA, the LSRCA issued revised draft Guidelines in December 2014. We are very pleased to note that the December draft Guidelines do not permit subdivisions in PSWs.

What you can do:

There will be a special LSRCA Board meeting in March – date not yet announced – to hear public submissions. Please attend and ask the board members to approve the December 2014 draft Guidelines which do not permit subdivisions in PSWs. The board will then vote on the new Guidelines at its April 24, 2015 meeting.

For more information, please read:

  • September 26, 2014 letter from Leo Longo, Aird & Berlis LLP, to LSRCA;
  • September 26, 2014 letter from Anthony Usher, MCIP, RPP, to LSRCA; and
  • July 28, 2014 letter from Anthony Usher, MCIP, RPP to LSRCA.

Available at: www.SaveNGForest.org

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One Response to Development within our Protected Wetland Complex – Another Mistake?

  1. lvann_11@sympatico.ca'
    BFI September 16, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    This will cost Pam her seat. Court victory or not, we are upset large.

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