Sierra Club Blog Posts
Written By: John Bacher
Ontario’s environmental movement should be celebrating a remarkable victory won by a two year struggle for the re-opening of Springwater Provincial Park in Midhurst, 10 kilometres north of Barrie. Springwater is a 193 hectare forested park, with picnic grounds and 13 kilometres of hiking trails.
Springwater Park was created through afforestation in the 1920s as a demonstration project of conquering spreading desert sands by planting trees. These sand piles emerged through the burning off of woodlands for agricultural clearance.
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Sprawl Threatens Carolinian Heartland
Written by: John Bacher
If the Greenbelt is to be extended to protect the most threatened area of the Carolinian Forest zone, the most biologically diverse ecosystem in Canada, it is most logical to do so in Niagara. In attempting such a move however, the big clash comes with those who seek to promote urbanization along the Queen Elizabeth Highway in Niagara Falls and Fort Erie.
The Carolinian forest region where leafy deciduous trees predominate is a tiny area. It hugs Lake Erie and stretches north on Lake Ontario only as far as Toronto. Apart from Indian reservations most of the forests here were long ago burned out for agriculture. Except for the Niagara Escarpment and the reforested former wastelands of Norfolk County, the big exception to this pattern of desolation is in southern Niagara.... Read more »
Responding to our Forests in a Changing Climate
Written by: Alyssa Beurling
At this point it should be no surprise to anyone that we are living in a world with a changing climate; a climate we as humans have altered with ever increasing carbon dioxide emissions. Throughout the years science has continued to indicate, overwhelmingly, that burning fossil fuels has led to, and continues to fuel an accelerated warming of our atmosphere. Over the last 50 years the average global temperature has increased by 1 °F. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it has big repercussions for our global climate (Dartmouth College, 2013).... Read more »
Ramsay Road Woodlot
Written By: John Bacher
In 1993 as the provincial government was working to develop legislation to give municipalities ability to strengthen their powers to regulated tree cutting on private land came one of the worst assaults on the environment in Niagara since the 1950s. Then in Niagara Falls north of Oldfield Road near Dorchester Road came what those of us who lived through the event remember as the Niagara Chain Saw Massacre. A swamp forest full of Pin Oaks, Pignut Hickories, full of forested vernal pools and unusual species such as the southern arrow-wood, came tumbling down.... Read more »
By: Alyssa Beurling
Beginning in the 1960’s as a result of algal blooms and nutrient management issues, Canada and the US began collaborating efforts to reduce the underlying problem - elevated phosphorus concentrations within the Great Lakes (GL), and Lake Erie in particular (Hill, 2015). This soon led to the creation of the federal Clean Water Act and the Canada-US Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) which set specific phosphorus targets and improved lake conditions into the mid-1990’s (Government of Canada, 2014).... Read more »
By Kristina Jackson
This month Ontario passed the first North American regulations on neonicotinoid pesticides that are tied to pollinator loss. “Neonics”, as they are often called, are a synthetic pesticide first created in the 1980’s and quickly expanded to become the most common pesticide used on crops worldwide. Neonics mimic naturally occurring insect repellants found in nicotine but the frequency and intensity of current use has been proven to kill bees, butterflies, earthworms and a variety of other insects.... Read more »
While Toronto may be famous for having green life veins flowing through its heart of forested ravines, the city is surrounded by a vulnerable mass of farmlands leased by developers and the federal government, (as a reserve for the Pickering Airport) for cash cropping that is termed “the White Belt.” While some may romantically call these lands a “food belt”, in reality most is used for grains grown for industrial feed stocks including bio-fuels or to dangerously fatten livestock in their last weeks of life for unhealthy “marbling.”... Read more »
Unusual for the participants in the Ontario government’s 2015 Co-Ordinated Review of the Growth Plan, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan is the perspective of the Mohawk environmentalist, Danny Beaton. (Turtle Clan, Six Nations).
At the Caledon session on March 26th, Beaton took part in a panel with the Sierra Club representative Dan McDermott, Robin Garret, of the Greenbelt Foundation and myself. Here he stressed that all the prime agricultural land in Ontario should be protected from development. This would require a dramatic expansion of the Greenbelt. ... Read more »
In St. Catharines a meeting was held for the provincial plan review for the Ontario Greenbelt on April 15th, and was attended by about 350 people. This large attendance was quite important, since the meeting attracted around 80 opponents of the Greenbelt. They were led by landowner leader, Austin Kirby, who asked those who shared her perspective to indicate by applause. Her signed briefing note left at one of the tables recommended that they should “gather round one table to gain more attention.”... Read more »
One of the key weaknesses in the reformed land use planning system in Ontario that was developed around 2005 and is now subject to review through public meetings is the planning black hole known as the “White Belt.” This is an area between the Greenbelt and the edge of the urban area boundaries in Hamilton, Halton Region, Peel, York and Durham Region. On these lands urban boundary expansions can take place through every five years, instead of the ten plus protected through the Greenbelt.
The only Regional government around the Greenbelt not to have a White Belt is Niagara. This situation has arisen since one of the chief objectives for the Greenbelt here is to protect Niagara’s unique tree fruit growing lands.... Read more »