For immediate release
From The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition
July 18 2016
Local Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition calls for action on water protection
Dozens of organizations and activists join residents calling for a ‘Bluebelt’ to protect water sources for the health and prosperity of the region.
July 18, 2016 / Simcoe County/ Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition- The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition (SCGC) is calling on the province and county to expand the Greenbelt into the County to protect our vulnerable and important water resources. This is as a direct result of The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority’s issuance of a level 1 low water response for its watershed and direction to residents and businesses to reduce water consumption.
“Simcoe County’s watersheds are routinely identified through the province’s low water monitoring system according to Conservation Ontario data. This is a warning that a business-as -usual approach is not working here. We need aggressive measures to ensure that we can continue to provide water to our residents, farmers and industries going forward,” says SCGC co-chair Margaret Prophet. “Ensuring policies direct growth and development away from areas that threaten our water supply is a logical first step. We feel the Greenbelt can be a game changer for how Simcoe County approaches what we protect and how we develop our communities.”
The Greenbelt would overlay areas that directly supply residents’ drinking water such as the Oro Moraine as well as areas that allow precipitation to refill our groundwater reservoirs. Wetlands and greenspaces that filter our water and mitigate against flooding would also be protected under an expanded Greenbelt.
Local water advocate and environmental scientist, Connie Spek, agrees. “Why should water be political? Why are we dragging our feet when it comes to putting in best practices that have been shown to increase the health of wetlands and forests? Don’t the residents, businesses, farmers and environment of Simcoe County deserve the utmost level of protection and conservation? The Greenbelt is a good and necessary first step towards a brighter water future for Simcoe County.”
Founder of Ontario Farmland Preservation and OFA member, Bernard Pope, believes inaction due to lack of political will have far-reaching effects. “Many of the farmers in Holland Marsh are dealing with crop loss due to flooding and hail. Farmers in Brant County are dealing with drought conditions and many have already lost their crops for this season. Agriculture is the number one value-added sector in the province and we need water. Look at what has happened in California to farmers when water becomes scarce. If farmland continues to be turned over to houses and water continues to not be properly protected, I worry for the future of my industry and our region.”
The SCGC recently partnered with environmental advocates, agricultural organizations, and community members across the Greater Golden Horseshoe to expand the call for even greater protection of the GGH’s water resources.
The Province announced in May, as part of the coordinated land use planning review, a proposal to grow the Greenbelt into 21 urban river valleys and 7 coastal wetlands. The SCGC wants to go further and protect key areas in need of stronger protection, including locally the Oro Moraine, Minesing Wetlands, Nottawasaga Watershed and Wasaga Beach, wetlands of Ramara, and many other areas of hydrological significance.
The grassroots campaign is building momentum every day, with thousands of residents across the region taking action by writing to Minister for Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro to support the government’s recommendations and urge that the Province grow the Greenbelt in many parts of the province including Simcoe County and Brant County.
“We know that 9 out of 10 residents see the Greenbelt as the most significant environmental initiative in Ontario,” said Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. “The number one reason these residents give for supporting the Greenbelt is the protection of water resources. Growing the Greenbelt to protect our water resources is more of a good thing.”
Says Prophet, “It’s time we start listening to the science and the science is indicating that we should be concerned about our water. With people all over the region demanding change, the big question is whether the political will is there to take the bold and necessary steps and grow our Greenbelt and protect our water. We hope that there is. I can't imagine people 50 years from now will say we did too much to ensure our water is clean and plentiful.”
Supporters are encouraged to join the movement and visit www.growourgreenbelt.ca/action to add their voice to the growing chorus of residents championing growing the Greenbelt in their communities.
About Grow Our GB The #GrowOurGB initiative is a coalition between organizations and associations representing more than 120 member groups, and 300,000 members across Ontario. Launched on June 21, the #GrowOurGB Primer, ‘Growing the Green, Protecting the Blue’ is a comprehensive guide to understanding how we can act now to protect water resources for our future. Visit www.growourgreenbelt.ca to learn more and take action. Backgrounder information is available, contact the writer below.
About SCGC The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition is a diverse coalition of over 30 organizations from across Simcoe County and the province calling on local and provincial leaders to expand the Greenbelt into Simcoe County. The SCGC looks forward to engaging the public and stakeholders about the role an expanded Greenbelt would play in the future of Simcoe County. Visit www.simcoecountygreenbelt.ca to learn more and take action.
About the Greenbelt Ontario’s Greenbelt is the solution for fresh air, clean water, healthy local food, active outdoor recreation, and a thriving economy. At nearly two million acres, it’s the world’s largest permanently protected greenbelt, keeping our farmlands, forests, and wetlands safe and sustainable.
Margaret Prophet, Co-Chair, SCGC, Cell 705-718-1383 , Email m_prophet[at]hotmail.com