Urban Development on the Oak Ridges Moraine

Urban Development on the Oak Ridges Moraine

The battle to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine—the place where the rivers begin for much of south-central Ontario—continues at fever pitch (see Ontario Update, January-February Habitat News). All eyes are on the Ontario government, which has the power to fix the problem of unbridled urban sprawl onto the Moraine if only they had the political will to do so.

The Federation of Ontario Naturalists (FON) and the Save the Oak Ridges Moraine (STORM) Coalition having been working in tandem on both grassroots and political-level campaigns. In February, the two conservation groups presented Premier Mike Harris and his Minister of Municipal Affairs with a protection statement for the Moraine signed by 465 scientists. The statement called for tough provincial action, including establishment of a major no-development green corridor east to west on the Moraine, which spans 160 kilometres (100 miles) across the top of the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. It also calls for no development in the Moraine’s forests, wetlands, critical groundwater recharge and discharge areas, and in the drainage basins of its highly sensitive kettle lakes and wetlands.

In late March, FON and STORM held a joint news conference with the City of Toronto as the groups and the city were simultaneously filing applications under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights calling for a review of the inadequacy of current laws and policies to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine. The Environmental Commissioner has forwarded the applications to Premier Harris, municipal affairs minister Tony Clement, natural resources minister John Snobelen and environment minister Dan Newman. Under the bill of rights, the ministers must decide on whether to carry out the requested review within 60 days and if they agree to do the review, must complete it within “a reasonable time.” In their applications, the FON and STORM have presented the government with a number of practical methods to achieve better protection for the Moraine.

For information on either Dombind or the Oak Ridges Moraine, please contact Linda Pim at the Federation of Ontario Naturalists at lindap@ontarionature.org or call her at (416) 444-8419 ext. 243.

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.