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June 2, 2000
Harris Government wrong to dismiss Environmental Bill Of Rights application on the Oak Ridges Moraine
  
The Co-chairs of Toronto's Oak Ridges Moraine Steering Committee believe the
Ontario Government has been too quick to dismiss evidence of an overwhelming
need for a comprehensive approach in protecting the 160 kms of the Oak Ridges
Moraine.

Forming the northern boundary of the urbanized area around Toronto, the moraine
contains the headwaters of all the watersheds in Toronto. Any development on
this ecologically-sensitive landform will have significant effects on areas
beyond its boundaries, including the quality of life and water in Toronto.

"The province has been completely irresponsible in dismissing the city's
request for a review of the existing laws and policies governing the moraine,"
said Co-chairs of the Oak Ridges Steering Committee, Councillors John Adams and
David Miller. "The province's own planning guidelines call for a periodic
review of policy on the moraine every five years, which means that a review of
the moraine should have occurred, but Ontario is still using 1991 interim
guidelines as the basis for decision-making.

"By abdicating its responsibility to protect the moraine as a whole, the
Ontario government is failing to ensure the quality of water and life of all
the people who live in the Greater Toronto Area. The province must commit to
preserving the moraine in its entirety, from the Niagara Escarpment to Rice
Lake. And they need to make that commitment today, before the Ontario
Municipal Board hearings are over," added Miller and Adams.

Given the significant long-term consequences of development to the people and
lands of the entire GTA, and the inability of his ministers to act, it is now
time for the Premier to come forward to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine for now
and future generations. The province already has numerous studies that
establish the need for new policy while Peel, York and Durham Regions have
concluded they cannot protect the moraine except on a piecemeal basis.

The Oak Ridges Moraine, Towards a Long-Term Strategy, a 1999 study commissioned
by the regions of Peel, York and Durham notes that the Oak Ridges Moraine
performs certain essential functions in the GTA including:
· Serving as a groundwater recharge and discharge area for 65 watercourses
· Containing the majority of the remaining natural areas in the GTA bioregion,
including forests
· Providing opportunities for regional scale recreation, education and nature
appreciation.

The study concluded that local municipal plans are not capable of dealing in a
substantive manner with issues that extend beyond their boundaries. Toronto
has undertaken a number of projects to improve and protect the quality of the
city's rivers and Lake Ontario water but the value of these efforts will be
lost if there isn't adequate protection upstream.

The Wet Weather Flow Management Master Plan will identify how to deal with
storm water across the city. The plan will look at storm water as a resource
to be used in a positive way in the city's environment. Already built are two
underground detention tanks at Toronto's eastern beaches which capture and hold
combined sewer overflows and storm water, that in the past went directly into
the lake, until the sewer system and treatment plant can handle the volume. A
similar project in west-end Toronto, the Western Beaches Storage Tunnel is
expected to be operating by the end of 2000.



Media Contact
Councillor John Adams
416-392-0013

Councillor David Miller
416-392-4072

 

 

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