Province takes charge of Marcy's
Minister invokes zoning order
By Karena Walter
FORT ERIE - The provincial government has taken charge
of Marcy’s Woods by signing a rarely used Minister’s Zoning
Order that halts any potential development of the site.
In an announcement today, the province will ban work
on the controversial Fort Erie property until an environmental
consultant develops a long-term plan.
Under the Ontario Planning and Development Act, the minister
of municipal affairs and housing has the power to zone
any piece of land in the province if deemed necessary.
The order was signed on Friday by Minister David Young
and is effective immediately, a provincial government
The province has tasked Nature Conservancy of Canada
director John Riley with the job of selecting a person
to make recommendations for a long-term strategy, the
Although rarely used, a similar step was taken to protect
the Oak Ridges Moraine in south-central Ontario.
“It’s very heavy handed, but it’s very necessary for
this property,” said Rob Eberly, president of the Bert
Miller Nature Club of Fort Erie, on the expected announcement.
He said the development freeze offers protection in the
short-term to ensure no further damage will happen on
the sensitive site.
Eberly said heavy machinery brought in to widen the road
last month created a corridor for invasive species into
The property was used as a family retreat for generations
by the Marcy family of Buffalo, who sold it to a Niagara
Falls family in July.
The DiCienzo family has said repeatedly it has no plans
to develop their newly acquired property and will continue
to use it as a personal cottage.
When a landscaping firm was hired last month to widen
an access road to the forest so the family could get a
car to the existing cottage, environmentalists were alarmed.
More than 150 protesters paddled their canoes to the
Toronto shores of Lake Ontario Aug. 25 and delivered a
petition to Queen’s Park calling for the expropriation
of Marcy’s Woods.
Erie-Lincoln MPP Tim Hudak received the delegation at
Queen’s Park and requested the Minister of Natural Resources
begin the process of purchasing the site. He also requested
in letters to that ministry, Premier Ernie Eves and the
municipal affairs minister to put measures in place to
ensure no further damage.
Riley has a background in botany and geology. He served
as regional ecologist for southern and central Ontario
in 1986, was an adviser developing provincial natural-heritage
policies and former executive director of the Federation
of Ontario Naturalists.