Development on The Oak Ridges Moraine

The Province of Ontario has set some lofty goals for the development of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Whitchurch-Stouffville has been designated to receive 10000 more residents by 2030 and nearly 60000 by 2051. Are these goals actually obtainable? That is nearly 60000 more residents in Whitchurch-Stouffville. This will double the population. Do we have the room? Do we have the infrastructure?

The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville sits within the most ecologically sensitive areas in all of Canada. The Oak Ridges Moraine is one of the most environmentally sensitive areas holding the highest diversity of wildlife habitat in North America, is the headwater area to more than 60 watersheds that drain directly into Lake Ontario, Lake Simcoe, Georgian Bay and the Scugog watershed. Whitchurch-Stouffville has 5 watersheds that drain from across the center of the Municipality. The Rouge, The Black, The East Holland, The West Duffins and the Pefferlaw Brook watersheds all originate from within Whitchurch-Stouffville.

We have designated 5 areas of growth within the municipality. Not all the areas are serviced by municipal infrastructure, sewer and water. We do not even have bus services to more than ¾ of the Town. A lot of the area, 85%, has been designated on the Oak Ridges Moraine and a small amount extends as part of the Greenbelt. Under the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act and the Greenbelt plan, the town has a lot of restrictions that will or should guide the planning of the Town. Currently, this guidance is at risk. The Council of Whitchurch-Stouffville and the York Region Council have all voted to threaten the Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) and the Greenbelt.

More than 20 years ago I advocated for the protection of the ORM. I was a Councillor in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville at the time and I saw the importance of protecting the ORM for the future health of our area and the children that will grow up here. Wildlife habitat, clean air, clean water, farmland for food production, climate change mitigation where all being preserved, for what I thought was in perpetuity. In the early 2000’s municipalities across the GTA spent money on research, updating Official Plans that would reflect the ORM Conservation Act (ORMCA) and then the Greenbelt Act. Millions of dollars were spent. Tax dollars from you and I. This was not paid for by the development community.

The ORMCA was always threatened by the development community. They thought it would be a waste of land. They were only protecting their investments and their shareholders. They did not have the resident best interest at heart. In 2001 science won over the interests of the developers.

Science is losing again. Developers are starting to win. BILD, the Building Industry and Land Development Association, a well funded lobbying group put together by the Development Community has funded election campaigns, donated millions of dollars, and pressured all levels of government to pave over and build houses everywhere. They are only thinking of their bottom line. How can we BILD, continue to make billions of dollars through development? Land has been purchased, and plans have been drawn, all to aid the development community. The Province of Ontario has stated they will build 1,000,000, yes 1 million homes in Ontario over the next 20 years. The average price of a home right now, 1 million dollars. You do the math. That’s a lot of money for the development community and that’s a lot of debt being built up for the average person in Ontario.

With plans to build 1 million homes by extending further into our environment and to proceed as we have done over the last 30 years, our health and environment will be affected. Urban sprawl, highways and byways to be built, more vehicles on the roads, more traffic, more pollution more effects on our climate, higher taxes, more debt for the average resident. Do we want this? The majority of residents in southern Ontario have spoken out against this, yet government has continued to support BILD and the ways of the last 30 years. We are screaming for change and our screams are going unanswered.

If we allow Whitchurch-Stouffville to continue with the plans that are being proposed, the precedence that these plans will set, will be destructive and mean the end of the ORMCP and the Greenbelt. If Whitchurch-Stouffville is allowed to build on the ORM, then every municipality across the Moraine and the Niagara Escarpment will be able to follow and will adjust their Official Plans to develop on these environmentally sensitive lands. We will have to restart our fight, as we did from the 1980’s to 2000, to preserve green space for us all to enjoy. If it takes another 20 years to fight, it will be for very small bits of lands that have been left undeveloped.

If elected, I will change the thoughts of council here in Whitchurch-Stouffville and fight against the planning that has been set for York Region and the rest of Ontario.

Vote Mark Carroll 4 Mayor on October 24th

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