greets buyers of properties on moraine
By Jonathan Fowlie
As prospective home buyers were ushered into the newly opened
Aspen Ridge Homes sales office by a security guard yesterday,
David Donnelly looked on in frustration, able only to stand
by and hope his "Save, don't pave, the Oak Ridges Moraine"
sign would sway the opinion of those looking to buy houses
on the environmentally sensitive land.
Mr. Donnelly and other members of Environmental Defence
Canada said they plan to keep a vigil on the Oak Ridges
Moraine until Dalton McGuinty's Liberals take over government
This week, after a speech to about 1,000 members of Toronto's
business community, Mr. McGuinty warned developers planning
to build 6,600 houses on the moraine to stop work immediately
or face government action when he takes office.
Last night in a speech to Liberals, he reaffirmed his
commitment to protect the moraine.
The moraine is considered a valuable environmental feature
of the Greater Toronto Area because it provides a wilderness
corridor north of Toronto and contains about five dozen
rivers and streams that run into Lake Ontario.
Yesterday, Glenn De Baeremaeker, president of the moraine
advocacy group Save the Rouge Valley System, called the
announcement "one of the most profound environmental
victories of this decade."
"When you get past all the hype and people arguing
back and forth, [Mr. McGuinty's promise] means clean water
in 65 river systems in Southern Ontario for the next hundred
years," he said.
However, Mr. De Baeremaeker and others wanting to protect
the moraine are worried about the damage that could be
done before Mr. McGuinty takes office.
"If they're bulldozing, they are destroying an irreplaceable
terrain," said Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby, who represents
Environmental Defence Canada.
Yesterday morning, bulldozers worked on the moraine as
staff at Aspen Ridge Homes prepared to open a showroom
"What they are doing is exploiting a little [gap]
in our democracy called the transition, where there is
a vacuum of power," Mr. Donnelly said.
The developers said they signed an agreement with the
province and expect to continue the work that has been
"There was an agreement defining the lands that
could be developed and lands that the province would acquire
by a swap for land in Pickering," says a statement
issued yesterday by Lebovic Homes, one of the firms looking
to build on the moraine. "We expect the province
to honour the agreement."
In 2001, Municipal Affairs Minister Chris Hodgson announced
a deal to swap the lands then held by developers for less
sensitive, provincially owned lands off the moraine in
Opponents of the construction say the deal protects far
less land than the amount provincial officials at a Ontario
Municipal Board hearing said should be saved.