Page 1

Winter 2012/2013 | Issue No. 86

Newsletter of the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment

Dundas Valley, 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. ON THE EDGE is printed by The Printing House Ltd. on Rolland Enviro100 paper by Cascades Inc. This paper uses FSC certified and EcoLogo™ certified, 100% post consumer waste, processed chlorine free, and manufactured using biogas energy. 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. Design by: Josh Gordon, Cover: Snow on Escarpment Meadow, Josh Gordon

Contents ON THE EDGE | Winter 2012/2013

4 6 7 8 13 16

The View from the Edge

Protecting Ontario’s Landscape

OCAD U Student Communicates Escarpment Highway Message in Poster Exhibit

PALS Opposes CMS Project in Fort Erie

A Fern for the Season

EA of Escarpment Highway Complete...Now What?


by Robert Patrick, CONE President


ell, it has been a short but, still a very busy time for CONE since our last On The Edge newsletter was published the last week of October 2012. Monte Dennis, CONE Vice President, and It met with the UNESCO World Biosphere Review team on October 31. The team was impressed by the CONE road signs announcing to travelers that they are entering a World Biosphere Reserve. They had noted an awareness of CONE from Niagara to Tobermory. We informed the team that our greatest challenge was the geographic length and getting people involved along its over 750 km length. They indicated the diversity of our member group uses and reasons for protecting the Reserve was positive as UNESCO looks for a balance of protection to human activity in World Biosphere Reserves. CONE and several other Environment groups met with Mr. Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, on November 7, to discuss the findings of his 2012 reports. This year the Environmental Commissioner set his sites on the Ministry of Natural Resources for their under performance and lack of regard to the Ontario Legislation they are to work under. He hit hard and his effort is appreciated by Environment Groups that have been dismayed by the lack appropriate response and behavior within The Ministry of Natural Resources. The numerous reorganizations have not proven effective to date. We hope this report will at least spark a needed change in attitude. The Aggregate Forum of Ontario (AFO) and Socially and Environmentally Responsible Aggregate (SERA) have merged to create the organization Cornerstone Standards Council (CSC). Their WEB site states: “The Cornerstone Standards Council brings together the strengths of SERA’s draft standards and the standards development process with that of AFO’s sector knowledge and previous work on the design of a credible certification system.”

on the edge | Winter 2012

“The Cornerstone Standards Council will continue to work collaboratively with industry leaders, environmental organizations, community groups, municipalities and provincial government as well as aggregate purchasers to create certification standards that will achieve measurable environmental, social and economic benefits.” CONE continued to monitor NEC meetings in November. CONE’s Board has chosen to reinstate our NEC Report Card. Look for more information on this in comming issues. On December 3 and 4, CONE attended the Environmental Hearing on the Harold Sutherland Keppel Quarry Expansion in Grey County. I presented our Minutes of Settlement on Monday December 3 and our CONE Final Summation on December 6. We will post the documents on the CONE web site. Parties have until December 21 to file their Final Summations. The Decision should be handed down by the end of January 2013. Recently, CONE met with Holcim, Dufferin Aggregates, at their Acton Quarry on December 12. Much was accommplished toward a better understanding of the Acton Quarry Expansion Proposal after we met. More on this topic will be posted on the CONE web site once the JART Report is released in January 2013. At this time of year, I would like to remind you and encourage you to please consider renewing your membership with the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment. We cannot do the needed work we do without the support of generous people like you. Join CONE in our 35 th year of protecting the Niagara Escarpment! Thank you!

Happy Holidays and we look forward to working with you in 2013! – Robert Patrick, CONE President

page 5

Protecting Ontario’s landscape by Bob Barnett, CONE Director


photo Katherine Willson

ew people realize that only 3.8% of Ontario south of the Shield has been protected in title by government, conservation authorities or land trusts. The Ministry of Natural Resources supported land acquisition from the 50s until 2011. With the present budget crisis they have even stopped funding land trusts which need modest funding to accept land donations. This means that MNR has now downloaded this important program to land trusts which will struggle to carry on despite this blow which means the loss of about a third of their funding. MNR has made a committment to protect at least 12% of each eco region in concert with the International Convention on Biodiversity. This they are not doing. The government has shaved back programs like health and education, but totally dropped any progress toward their stated ecological goals. Stewardship coordinators have been eliminated in the province. MNR seems to be cutting back to their core mission of approving resource extraction and fighting forest fires.

on the edge | Winter 2012

photos Josh Gordon

OCAD Student communicates Escarpment Highway message in Poster Exhibit by Josh Gordon, CONE Director


ONE has had the pleasure of being included in the Colours for Conservation poster exhibit in Toronto. Students in their first year at OCAD University’s Graphic Design program were asked to partner with an organization and understand what they are doing to improve the environment and why they are doing it. Rebecca Canzio, shown above, chose to align herself with the movement to stop a new 400 series highway from cutting through the Niagara Escarpment. While CONE is not the only organization opposing this proposed development we were pleased that this issue was highlighted to Toronto city dwellers. The posters will be displayed at the Patagonia store, 500 King Street West, and the public is asked to vote on their favourite design. The winning poster will grant the affilited organization $1000. Wish us luck and thank you to Rebecca for helping us spread the word!

page 7

photo Mike Dickman



ALS Appeals Ontario Municipal Board Decision on Canadian Motor Speedway and Seeks Imposition of Ministerial Zoning Order Through On Line Petition. The Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society, (PALS) a long time member group of CONE for the past three years has spent much of its effort dealing with the proposed Canadian Motor Speedway in Fort Erie Ontario. This proposal is for a “NASCAR like�, stock racing motorway, which would have many associated uses. These include a shopping center and a light industrial designation. To reduce the harmful environmental impacts of the proposal, PALS proposed through our expert witness, Dr. Michael Dickman, that these other uses be eliminated if the speedway was approved, but the OMB approved the motorway without any modifications. on the edge | Winter 2012

photo Mike Dickman

The Canadian Motor Speedway is proposed to located be on 827 acres of land. All these lands are currently zoned and designated in both the Fort Erie and Niagara Regional Official Plans as prime agricultural land. About 650 acres of the site is farmland, the rest is forested. During the OMB hearing which was held last June much of the site was still growing corn, wheat and soybeans. Areas that have been farmed recently are grasslands, which provide habitat for the Threatened bird species, the Bobolink. The site also provided habitat for another threatened species, the Meadowlark, until its nesting site was converted into a wheat field. The forests on the site, which will be impacted by access roads also recently have been found to contain a rare bird species. In December 2012, the Wood Thrush which had its status changed to Threatened, has been documented by the proponent’s Environmental Impact Statement to have breeding habitat on the moroway site. During the OMB hearing last June the only media in attendance was a reporter from a publication promoting the motor racing industry. The industry subsequently defended the OMB decision approving the motorway when it was announced by the OMB on November 2, 2012. On the CBC Toronto radio show on November 3rd a representative from the motor industry claimed that the racing site was “industrially zoned” and not in agricultural production. This statement was typical of the misleading information being put out by advocates of the speedway. Many of the forests on the motorway site are part of the provincially significant Frenchman’s Creek wetland complex. Part of this complex, a linear forest, was down

Opposite: Forests in background currently shade Miller Creek a Type One Provincial Fish Habitat. All forests here are planned to become paved “VIP” parking lot for spectators of Speedway events. Above: This is now a quiet road allowance called Laur Road that runs through the Provincially Significant Frenchman’s Creek wetland complex. If the CMS project is aproved this trail is proposed to become a five lane highway. page 9

photo Mike Dickman

rated by the Ministry of Natural Resources, (MNR) on its acceptance of a study by Colville Consultants for the speedway corporation. This permitted the park of the motorway facility to pass above a linear forest in which had it remained a provincially significant wetland, would have not permitted such site alteration under the Provincial Policy Statement. The linear forest’s down rating was accepted by MNR without any opportunity for the public to comment on the Colville report. It was not made publicly available until the project was approved by the Fort Erie and Niagara Regional Councils. The report however, admitted that the linear forest provided nesting habitat for Song Sparrows, a species undergoing significant decline throughout North America. This is an important ecological function of this previously protected forest feature. The motorway also plans to slice through another linear forest with breeding bird habitat known as the East Hedgerow. While no motorway facilities which were subject to the restricted review of the OMB last June on the provincially significant wetlands these areas are proposed to be encroached upon by access roads. Currently both Gilmore Road and Laur Road are poorly maintained hiking trails through these wetlands. The traffic plan for the motorway proposes to have these roads turned into five lane highways, to accommodate the estimated 60,000 people that the facility is being designed for. The proposed road widenings will lead to heavy forest loss within provincially significant wetlands. Road widenings are permitted uses as part of the infrastructure exemptions for wetland protection. Some will be reviewed under permissive Class Environmental Assessments others under a full assemement. These reviews however, were gutted in the late 1990s. Some of the proposed naturalization proposed by the motorway company are impacted by the road widenings. Other areas are already undergoing naturalization to forest cover. What is especially tragic about the Canadian Motor Speedway proposal is that Fort Erie currently has the best forest cover, 27% of any municipality in the Canada’s Carolinian forest zone, the part of our country with the highest biodiversity. The only other area with forest cover on this scale is Norfolk County, and some First Nations reservations.

on the edge | Winter 2012

Opposite: Forests here would be chopped up by proposed widening of Bridge Street into five lane road. It is proposed that aggregate be mined and sold under future grandstand of motorway.

The Speedway’s worst impact will be on three watersheds, Miller, Beavers and Frenchman’s Creeks. All these creeks benefit from the fact that they have both good forest cover and little urbanization, which will be reduced if the zoning changes proposed are approved. They provide habitat for a variety of warm water fish species, such as Northern Pike, Muskie and various species of perch, catfish and bass. Most significantly, these creeks are the last stronghold of a Species of Special Concern, the Grass Pickerel. It has been completely eliminated for all of its Quebec habitat by the related problems of urban sprawl and deforestation of swamp wetlands. In order to stop the motorway proposal, PALS appealed under Section 42 of the Planning Act, the OMB decision of member Susan de Avellar Schiller, to the Executive Chair of the OMB, Lynda Catherine Tanaka. So that this does not remain the sole way of stopping the scheme, PALS has also launched an online petition which requests that the Premier Dalton McGuinty, impose ministerial zoning order. One of the most disturbing aspects of Ms. Schiller’s decision was the disqualification of Professor Hugh Gayler, since he was a “self-defined” member of PALS, which she defined as an advocacy organization. In our appeal to Executive Chair Tanaka, PALS pointed out that, all corporate entities on occasion are involved in advocacy, taking positions on various issues related to their objectives. In this regards, PALS as an incorporated body, is no different than the other corporations that were parties to this hearing. These were the Canadian Motor Speedway, the Regional Municipality of Niagara, and the Town of Fort Erie. In the case of the Regional Municipality of Niagara and the Town of Fort Erie they were represented by full time employees, who by nature of their regular employment were in a similar position as members page 11

of PALS in terms of any inherit bias. A similar bias would apply to any expert witness who has a paid retainer with the Canadian Motor Speedway. The basic intent of the introduction of the Rules of Civil Procedure in regard to expert witness qualifications was to eliminate partisan positions by experts. If there was any partisan content in Dr. Gayler’s Witness Statement under the OMB’s Rules of Procedure the three opposing parties had the opportunity to challenge this through responding evidence, as is required ahead of the hearing. This was not done. This lack of response is testimony to the soundness of Dr. Gayler’s testimony as an expert. Rather than find deficiencies based on the lack off sufficient research and familiarity with the land use planning issues in dispute, the opposing parties chose to challenge Dr. Gayler’s testimony through his association with a supposed “advocacy group.” This is an approach that challenges the ability of people to work together to protect the environment, in this case prime farmlands and natural areas. and is incompatible with the norms of a liberal and democratic society.

Join us in representing Ontario’s

Niagara Escarpment

We invite you to visit our website and renew your membership with the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment. In 2013, let’s celebrate our accomplishments during our 35 years of protection and preservation. on the edge | Winter 2012


photo Katherine Willson

by Katherine Willson, CONE Volunteer


s the leaves fall and colours fade in the deciduous woodlands on the Escarpment, ferns seem to be everywhere, no longer disappearing into the green backdrop. Among them, one particularly stands out with its erect habit and strong dark green colour, even into the early snowfalls: Christmas Fern, Polystichum acrostichoides. The Christmas Fern is native to eastern North America and is common in deciduous woodlands from North Carolina northward. Sources indicate it has a preference for limestone, but does not grow in very rocky locations. I see it in the woods back from the escarpment brow, growing in substantial clumps and often on the remains of a rotted log. page 13

photo Katherine Willson

The Christmas Fern has separate sterile and fertile fronds. The fertile fronds have spores only towards the tip. In the fall they appear shrivelled at the tip – meaning only that the spore production has finished. The sterile fronds are shorter and tend to form a border encircling the fertile fronds. The clump of fronds is anchored by a rhizome. Clumps of Christmas Fern can provide cover for wildlife, but like most ferns is not palatable to most wildlife. One source indicated that it is a source of food for ruffed grouse. Certainly the Hopeness area where I am used to seeing Christmas Fern has a good supply of ruffed grouse. Another source mentioned it as a food source for butterfly larvae – no idea which kind. Christmas fern has been used for decorations in the past, and is grown commercially for garden use. It is not considered endangered. However, I recall Nels Maher commenting with surprise in 2004 that it was getting harder to find on the Bruce Peninsula. So, cutting it for holiday decorations is not recommended. on the edge | Winter 2012

Remembering David Hahn by Robert Patrick, CONE President


n December 15 th we heard through Mrs. Louise Hahn that our good friend David Hahn passed away in Collingwood in his 87th year. Hahn loyally led our coalition as Co-President from 1996-98 along side Linda Pim. During Hahn’s time as President of CONE, he led our World Biosphere Reserve road sign project. This project can still be enjoyed today as you drive through the Escarpment’s many towns and rural roads. In 2002 Hahn helped to form the Niagara Escarpment Foundation (NEF), a charitable foundation to benefit CONE’s work. He served as President of NEF for three years and led research initiatives. A celebration of his David Hahn’s life will be held in Creemore at the Station on the Green, January 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm. Thank you David for all of your dedication and effort in helping us to protect the Niagara Escarpment! You will be greatly missed.

page 15



n September while we were attending the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, we were telling attendees that the Environmental Assessment (EA) was underway to narrow down four proposed routes for a new multi lane highway. So which one will have the least environmental impact? The Minister of Transportation, Bob Chiarelli, indicated in a meeting with Burlington Mayor and a Halton Regional chair that the EA has been completed. However, this EA has not been released since the minister indicated that “he needed help�. From reading that statement from the Minister, we can only assume that this indicates that the preferred route is the one that is going to cause the most political flak. Probably the route going through North Burlington making a major cut through the Escarpment (the original route).

on the edge | Winter 2012

The other important item is that the highways are proposed where the congestion isn’t. That does not make any sense, however the land is available (prime agriculture land) and highway route selection then becomes easy. The Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition (SEHC) believes that if the minister requires help we could provide it to him. Together with Citizens Opposed to Paving the Escarpment (COPE), SEHC has issued many alternatives in the past and one only has to consider alternate means of sustainable transportation and the idea of more highways are not required at all. There is more expertise in citizens organizations than in the MTO, however, how does a government fund them? Unfortunately the Provincial MTO cannot take into consideration alternatives such as rail, since it is not within their mandate. The existing MTO is forging ahead, designing with blinders in place and their hands tied securely behind their backs. Burlington Green’s Mobility Committee (recently re-named from Transit Committee since transit implies only moving people, not goods) is convinced that if rail were taken into account the requirement for new highways would disappear. The other important item that would not be required is further aggregate from the Escarpment, thus saving this valuable resource.

The highway issue is one of politics and unfortunately has very little to do with technology. page 17

photo Katherine Willson

CONE Member Organizations Alpine Club of Canada, The (Toronto) • Beaver Valley Ratepayers Association • 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 •

VOLUNTEERING WITH CONE 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. Thank you!

193 James Street South, Hamilton, Ontario L8P 3A8 | Connect with CONE on Facebook and Twitter Designed by Josh Gordon • Printed by The Printing House Ltd. •

ON THE EDGE Winter 2012/2013  

Newsletter of the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment

ON THE EDGE Winter 2012/2013  

Newsletter of the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment