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Newsletter of the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment

Spring 2013 | Issue N o. 87

photo Josh Gordon

ON THE EDGE, ISSN 1491-2740, is published quarterly by the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment (CONE). This newsletter is for CONE members and supporters to keep them informed of issues and events along the Niagara Escarpment, a World Biosphere Reserve. ON THE EDGE is produced by, and is the property of, CONE. All rights reserved. No article, graphic, or excerpt may be reproduced without the written permission from CONE. Read past issues of ON THE EDGE on our website: » Become A Member » Newsletters CONE is the watchdog of the Niagara Escarpment. We foster its protection and appreciation through public advocacy and member support. ON THE EDGE is printed in Hamilton, Ontario by The Printing House Ltd.™ on Cascades Rolland Enviro100 paper. This paper is FSC® certified and EcoLogo™ certified, manufactured with 100% post consumer waste using biogas energy and processed chlorine free.


ON THE EDGE | Spring 2013

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The View from the Edge

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Escarpment Update: Niagara Region

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Why I want to protect the Niagara Escarpment

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Canada Columbine

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A Report on NEC Meetings

THE VIEW FROM THE EDGE by Robert Patrick, President


elcome to 2013 and CONE’s 35th year of protecting our treasured UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the Niagara Escarpment! Since our last issue of ON THE EDGE we have continued to represent you by attending public meetings and hearings, presenting to boards, and continuing our efforts to support CONE’s member groups and organizations throughout the Niagara Escarpment’s regions. On January 10 we were pleased to hear that the Glenorchy Conservation lands in the Halton region were added into the Ontario Greenbelt, designated as an Urban River Valley. I represented CONE and presented to the Green Belt Plan Additions Committee recommending to include Glenorchy as an Urban River Valley in the revisions to the Greenbelt Plan and to afford it the highest protection possible in the Plan. I was able to show examples of how this works within the Niagara Escarpment Plan. On January 26, I proudly represented CONE by attending the celebration of David Hahn’s life held in Creemore. Hahn was a former honourary director of CONE. It was a very positive event and Linda Pim gave a nice talk about their relationship as former co-chairs of CONE. CONE submitted comments on EBR 011-7696 Changes to the Endangered Species Act. To follow up on our ON THE EDGE | Spring 2013

comments, I represented CONE at the Ontario Endangered Species Act Conference on April 8 and 9 in Toronto at the Royal Ontario Museum. On April 27 I will represent CONE at AWARE Simcoe’s Annual General Meeting and present on a panel about protecting the Niagara Escarpment with Bob Barnett, of the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy, and Kathryn Pounder, a retired NEC Planner, at the Collingwood Leisure Time Club. During our 35 th year we are planning to celebrate by showcasing our member groups and organizations, your successes and milestones, and your Escarpment news and events. After all, without your support CONE could not continue doing its work on your behalf. Please get in contact with Josh at and start sending him your news and events so that we can share it in our newsletter and on our website. In the coming weeks we will be contacting our member groups and organizations by phone and by email and asking for your assistance in gathering comments for the upcoming 2015 Niagara Escarpment Plan review. We want your input! Thank you for your support of CONE over the past 35 years. I hope you enjoy this issue of ON THE EDGE!

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Area Around Niagara Escarpment in Grimsby Threatened by New Verison of Mid-Peninsula Expressway


top the Escarpment Highway Coalition (SEHC) won a major victory in December 2012 when the province announced that there would be new new crossings of the Niagara Escarpment in any of the “corridor� projects currently under review by the Ministry of Transportation. The only bit of the mid-peninsula expressway that will be constructed in the twenty year planning framework it approved is a confined to the southern area of the Niagara Region. It is intended to provide an alternative route to link Highway 406 and the Queen Elizabeth Highway through the municipalities of Fort Erie and Port Colborne. Protecting the Escarpment from new highways was a difficult battle. Here is a brief written by PALS in the midst of this struggle in 2010, when what was being proposed was ring road around Hamilton which would have slashed the Escarpment in both Burlington and Hamilton. In the spring of 2010 it appeared that the Regional Municipality of Niagara was finally rescued from the blight of new expressway corridors, when a provincial environmental review recommended that this project be confined to the City of Hamilton and Burlington. Now the preferred option

ON THE EDGE | Spring 2013

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photo Josh Gordon

in the new document being circulated for public review and comment, recommends the construction of a Hamilton bypass expressway. Unlike the previous proposed “corridor”, a term used by the province to describe a potential expressway route, this proposal would have two crossings of the Niagara Escarpment. While the provincial proposal in the spring of 2010 was for an Escarpment cut just in the Burlington area to construct a new expressway parallel to Highway 403, the new Hamilton by-pass would have this cut, plus an additional one in Grimsby to link the by-pass with the Queen Elizabeth Highway. This would put considerable pressure to remove agricultural zoning protection on all the remaining tender fruit lands in the Town of Grimsby. During the recent five year review of the Niagara Region’s official plan, Grimsby called for the removal of all the tender fruit land north of the Niagara Escarpment in its municipality from agricultural zoning protection and the Greenbelt. While it was told by the Niagara Region that this is not now possible due to Greenbelt controls, it is preparing to make this case during the 2015 Greenbelt Plan review. Approval of an expressway in this area could well be a prelude to a major gutting of the protections of the Greenbelt for unique tender fruit land deemed to be permanently protected in the Greenbelt Plan. This would end the current magnificent vistas in Grimsby of tender fruit orchards between the Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario.

ON THE EDGE | Spring 2013

PALS and Municipalities Debate Proposed Reduction in ANSI in Fonthill Kame


he Fonthill Kame is a significant geological feature that is important for both the micro-climate needed for tender fruit production, (especially sour cherries), and as a ground water aquifer for the Twelve Mile Creek. It is the last cold water stream in Niagara that supports a population of Brook Trout. The Ministry of Natural Resources, (MNR), is proposing to in effect, open up areas of the Fonthill Kame that are restricted from aggregate extraction, by proposing a new definition of the Earth Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest for the Fonthill Kame. This is because as a Niagara Regional Planning Department report points out, it is proposed to remove from the ANSI area boundaries lands that are “the most vulnerable to development expansion in the form of proposals for aggregate extraction.� This is opposed by the Town of Pelham, the Niagara Region and the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society, (PALS).

Victory Won Over Jet Boat Operators in Niagara River For over a decade the operation of jet boats in the Niagara River has been the subject of extensive litigation, as environmentalists concerned with noise, pollution and disruption to the breeding habitat of the Black Crowned Night Heron, have attempted to prohibit the operation of these tourist attractions. Although legal wrangling in the old Town of Niagara on the Lake, (lands covered by the Planning Act), resulted in a judicial ruling that permitted this activity on lands regulated by the Planning Act, Page 9

photo Josh Gordon

the Niagara Escarpment Act as usual, has shown itself to be of stronger mettle. On April 17, 2011, Linda Jeffrey, the Minister of Natural Resources, upheld the decision of the Hearing Officer’s report and recommendation to deny the issuance of a Niagara Escarpment Development Permit to permit the construction of a two story building in the Queenston Dock area in the Escarpment Rural Area of development control in the Niagara Escarpment Plan. The Minister’s April 17th decision upholding the decision came after a 27 day hearing conducted by the Niagara Escarpment Commission Hearing Office, in which a decision was rendered on February 7, 2011. In his decision, Hearing Officer, ruled that “the jet boat operation ...including the start-up of the jet boats, the coming and going of the jet boats, buses, vehicles, and passengers and the proposed enlarged dock services building, with its fencing and lightening ...and the proposed building and current jet boat operation, are not harmonious with the Escarpment’s ecological, physical, visual or cultural environment, and do not provide compatible rural land uses.”

ON THE EDGE | Spring 2013

photo Katherine Willson

Why I want to protect the Niagara Escarpment by Josh Gordon, CONE Director


iving in Southern Ontario we can’t help but continually encounter this massive rock wall known as the Niagara Escarpment. We drive on along its edges, paddle beside its cliffs, hike up its meandering trails, ski down its slopes and bike through its ancient forests. Like many outdoor-loving Ontarians I have grown up with the Escarpment by my side even before I had an interest in getting to know it. Rocks were boring. I wanted to learn about the living things that moved on these rocks. Mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and other creatures were more exciting than a fossilized sea creature. Within the past few years, I have become extremely interested in learning about Ontario’s native plants and preserving our Page 11

local biodiversity. Without the plants, there wouldn’t be the variety of furry and feathered creatures for us all to observe while we’re out exploring. That’s when it hit me – If I want to protect, and therefore see more of the native plants and animals that I love, I need to start protecting the habitat on which they depend on. I became a member and a volunteer director of the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment because I believe in CONE’s people, their passion and persistancy. I’m continually inspired by the loyal dedication of CONE’s directors (both present and past). These individuals devote hours into researching plan amendments and provincial acts, writing to goverment officials and policy changers, speaking at planning meetings, and advocating for better protection of my beautiful Niagara Escarpment. Like my fellow directors, I believe that someday CONE will protect the Niagara Escarpment from harmful development for good. They’ve proven their tenacity to Ontarians for 35 years and show no sign of giving up the dream!

photos Josh Gordon

Want to chat about the Niagara Escarpment? Send me an email at I’ll be happy to hear from you!

ON THE EDGE | Spring 2013

VOLUNTEER FOR THE NIAGARA ESCARPMENT The Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment is maintained through the power of our dedicated volunteers. We rely on people like you to ensure that CONE can continue its work to protect the Niagara Escarpment. Volunteer positions for NEC Meeting Monitor, Escarpment Media Monitor, Niagara Escarpment Plan Researchers, and CONE/Greenbelt road sign project assistant are currently open. Most of our volunteer positions can be done from the convenience of your home office. If you can give CONE some of your time we would greatly appreciate it. Please send an email to Josh Gordon at with your name, skills you could offer, and some related experience.

The Burlington Airpark, located in North Burlington, is requesting approval to expand operations to accept larger aircraft. The Airpark is not on the "protected" part of the Escarpment, but immediately adjacent to it. There are concerns from local residents in the areas of noise, water runoff, extended hours of operation etc. If you’d like to help research this possible Escarpment threat forward your offers of help to Diane Gregg,

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photo Katherine Willson

ON THE EDGE | Spring 2013



by Katherine Willson, CONE Volunteer

he Canada or Eastern Columbine (aquilegia canadensis) is widely distributed in Eastern North America, blooming in May and June. It loves the Niagara Escarpment, thriving along its length on cliff faces and boulder tops, and on the dolostone pavements of the Bruce Peninsula. It is easy to find in bloom because it opens buds in succession over a fairly long period. It shows itself off best on the vertical cliff faces, in the company of Bulblet Fern and Slender Cliff Brake.Catherine Parr Traill wrote in 1868 “”…it insinuates its roots into the clefts and hollows that are filled with rich vegetable mould; and thus, being often seen adorning the sterile rocks with its bright crown of waving blossoms, it has obtained in the name in some places of Rock Columbine.” The flowers have yellow petals with a red spur and red sepals. The round end of the spur contains nectar, which attracts hummingbirds and insects with a long proboscis. The leaves host larva of the Columbine Duskywing. A couple of sources report that the seeds

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photos Katherine Willson

were crushed and applied to the skin by aboriginal men as a love potion. No report on results. It can be hard to capture the showy colour of the flowers and the delicacy of the stems and leaves in a photograph. You will feel the magic, though, when you see them first hand dotting a cliff face – have a look before spring is over.

ON THE EDGE | Spring 2013

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A REPORT ON NEC MEETINGS Niagara Escarpment Commission Meeting January 17, 2013 | Monitored by Robert Patrick


fter a good participatory discussion the NEC passed the NEC Consultation Protocol for Radio Communication and Broadcasting antenna systems in the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area. This item was presented initially at the August NEC meeting where the NEC passed a motion to distribute the draft for stakeholder comments and any revisions. NEC approved this protocol and proceeded to apply this new protocol and unanimously approved the relocation of a Rogers Cell tower currently at the entrance to the former Queenston Quarry on Stamford Town Line at the end of Stanley Avenue, Niagara On The Lake. NEC Received a report from Daryl Cowell on the proposed Designation of the Cabot Head Area as a UNESCO Geopark. NEC agreed to hear a future presentation on this at the April Spring Policy Meeting in Hamilton. NEC Discussed the EBR:01-7540 Broader Landscape Approach MNR. NEC Commissioners saw it as cost cutting and are concerned about how it may affect protection of habitat for species at risk. They approved whole heartedly of sending the four page letter of comments and concerns prepared by Lisa Grbinicek. NEC Accepted the final Green Belt Plan technical Papers after a very precise presentation by Lisa Grbinicek.

ON THE EDGE | Spring 2013

Ken Whitbread presented a 27 page outline to the NEC on the strategic role out of how the NEC staff intends to tackle the 2015 Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP) review. Cecil Louis requested that staff add two more policy meetings to better their focus. John Riley requested a flow chart of the Big Picture with dates and maps. The plan was carried unanimously with the friendly amendments noted.

Niagara Escarpment Commission Meeting February 21, 2013 | Monitored by Robert Patrick


en Whitbread updated the NEC commissioners on the 2015 NEP review. The NEC has an approval for reorganization. There will be one information officer and the position is in competition that closed on February 25. NEC will be hiring a New Planning Manager to replace Ken. Ken will lead the 2015 Review Team and possibly retire after the review is completed. We were introduced to O.J. MacDonald, the new Compliance Officer who came from the Grand River Conservation Authority. They have approval to hire two part time staff for the NEP review. They have also freed up an office for the NEP review team. The NEC discussed the 400 Series Highways and instructed staff to write another blazing letter to the Ministry of Transportation. The commissioners are a very unhappy bunch regarding the 400 series highways. They want to know about rail corridors and the MTO links to Metrolinx. continued...

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UNESCO Final report to Paris on the October ten year review was presented and discussed. The report recommends the designation be retained and that the NEC continue to engage the stakeholders. UNESCO want to see enhancement of stakeholder interaction and participation in the next ten years.

Niagara Escarpment Commission Meeting March 21, 2013 | Monitored by Robert Patrick


he Commission heard the presentation from Daryl Cowell on the inclusion of the Cabot Head Area as a Geopark. Daryl emphasized that he had been researching the data that needs to be documented for this designation however the NEC is its planning body and needs to be on side for the work to be successful. The NEC accepted his presentation and passed a motion to give future consideration to what needs to be accomplished inorder to obtain the United Nations Geopark Designation. The NEC approved the development permit Application N/S/2012/-2013/191 for the underground transmission lines within the NEP for Niagara Region Wind Turbine Corporation. The NEC approved this transmission line permit on the understanding that it was not reflecting or indicating NEC approval for the wind farm proposed for development out side the NEP area.

ON THE EDGE | Spring 2013

ESCARPMENT EVENTS Does your environmental group or organization have an upcoming Escarpment-related event? Whether your event is about native plants, land use planning, natural history, or Niagara Escarpment species, we want to know about it. We will be updating our website’s “Escarpment Events” page throughout the year to keep our members and supporters up to date on presentations, hikes and conferences that are happening throughout the Niagara Escarpment’s regions. Send an email to with event details (title, location, time, cost, description) and we’ll post it on our website.

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photo Josh Gordon

CONE MemberS Alpine Club of Canada, The (Toronto) • Blue Mountain Watershed Trust Foundation • Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory • Bruce Peninsula Environment Group • Bruce Trail Conservancy • Caledon Countryside Alliance Canadian Environmental Law Association • Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment • Conserver Society of Hamilton and District • Earthroots • Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy • Friends of Short Hills Park • Green Venture • Grey Association for Better Planning • Halton/North Peel Naturalists’ Club • Hamilton Naturalists’ Club • Nature League Ontario Nature • Owen Sound Field Naturalists • PitSense • Protecting Escarpment Rural Lands • Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources • Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society • Saugeen Field Naturalists • South Peel Naturalists Club • Save The Oak Ridges Moraine • Toronto Caving Group, The • Upper Credit Field Naturalists • Wildlands League •

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ON THE EDGE Spring 2013  

Newsletter of the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment

ON THE EDGE Spring 2013  

Newsletter of the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment