The 2007 Status Report is the second in an annual series of report cards intended to highlight the successes and challenges of implementation of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP). It is designed and maintained by the Monitoring the Moraine (MTM) project, a partnership between Citizens’ Environment Watch, the Save the Oak Ridges Moraine (STORM) Coalition and the Centre for Community Mapping. The project partners anticipate that the lessons learned and reported in these annual reports will be applied to other areas of the Greenbelt and beyond.
The ORMCP was established on April 22, 2002 as a regulation under the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act (the Act) to provide a clear policy framework for protecting the moraine’s ecological and hydrological integrity. The Act established the municipalities as the primary implementers through the adoption and approval of official plans and zoning by-laws amended to conform to ORMCP policies. The 2006 Status Report focused on this conformity phase.
This year’s focus is an inventory of new infrastructure projects1 (roads, water, sewage and utilities) that have triggered formal environmental assessments (EAs) per section 41 of the ORMCP. Such projects are of interest because of their potential cumulative impact to ground and surface water regimes (quantity and quality), as well as incremental losses to the natural heritage system of the moraine.
Recap from 2006 Status Report: All eight upper-tier and 24 lower-tier municipal official plan amendments (amending official plans to conform to the ORMCP) had been adopted by the time of publication of this report. All but Whitchurch-Stouffville had adopted moraine-specific zoning-by-laws. Nineteen (of 24) lower-tier municipal official plans and only four of the 24 adopted zoning by-laws were approved by the province.
2006 Recommendation: The province should increase staff resources to immediately complete the planning approvals.
2007 Update on Progress Made: All official plans except that of Uxbridge have now been approved by the province. Seven zoning by-law amendments remain unapproved, including King, Richmond Hill, Uxbridge, New Tecumseh, Pickering, Clarington and Oshawa. Whitchurch-Stouffville still has not submitted an adopted moraine-specific amendment and Caledon is in the process of adopting a revision; both municipalities have been granted a June 20, 2008 extension.
Recap from 2006 Status Report: Municipal conformity was hindered by the lack of approved technical paper series and mapping.
2006 Recommendation: The province should make finalization of the technical paper series a priority and develop sample tree-cutting and site alteration by-laws.
2007 Update on Progress Made: The technical paper series was finalized and released to the public in July 2007. No progress has been made on the release of sample by-laws.
Recap from 2006 Status Report: No real progress had been made by the Inter-ministerial Performance Measures Working Group in drafting a monitoring framework (outside of its participation in the Monitoring the Moraine project’s Monitoring Advisory Committee).
2006 Recommendation: The province should collaborate on a multi-party monitoring framework as well as fulfill its obligations to establish a monitoring network.
2007 Update on Progress Made: Provincial staff have released a draft monitoring framework to monitor the effectiveness of Greenbelt policies and continue to participate in the Monitoring Advisory Committee.
Recap from 2006 Status Report: Municipalities cited problems with the “arms-length” position taken by province in ensuring conformity with the ORMCP.
2006 Recommendation: Provincial third party oversight is required for municipal implementation.
2007 Update on Progress Made: No progress has been made. Note: The Oak Ridges Moraine For Life Symposium Stakeholders Report (www.ormf.com/symposium) includes a specific call for the establishment of a multi-stakeholder and coordinating oversight body.
Recap from 2006 Status Report: The Oak Ridges Moraine has untapped potential to inform planning innovation across Ontario.
2006 Recommendation: The province should communicate more effectively about the status of ORMCP implementation while promoting planning innovation and research through conferences and public fora.
2007 Update on Progress Made: No progress has been made on this recommendation. Note: The Greenbelt Council (www.mah.gov.on.ca/...) has recommended funding be sought to initiate a lecture series to sustain public awareness around issues facing Ontario’s Greenbelt.
The overall vision of the ORMCP is to protect “the ecological and hydrological features and functions that support the health and well-being of the region’s residents and ecosystems.” Achieving ecological and hydrological integrity requires a comprehensive and integrated approach to land use and infrastructure planning and approval. It follows that the ‘meta’ tests prescribed in section 41 (i.e., projects will not be approved unless need has been established and no reasonable alternatives to the project exist) be further refined through strategic and project planning and design to meet the tests of ecological and hydrological integrity. The next status report will focus on an in-depth analysis of the planning and EA processes of new projects in meeting these objectives.
1Projects commenced after November 17, 2001.
The EA process is proponent-driven insofar as most EAs are designed, carried out and documented by the project proponent. One exception lies with Ministry of the Environment oversight on municipal class EAs that are ‘bumped-up’ to full or individual EAs (i.e., a Part II order). Proponents of EAs can include municipalities, federal and provincial ministries, crown and private corporations. Tracking even the basic coordinates of EAs (location, status, type, etc.) for a geographic landform such as the moraine is made difficult due to the number of different proponents and the complex nature of the EA process.
As described on page two, there are a number of gaps in the reporting of EAs on the moraine. With no central agency currently responsible for archiving information about moraine-specific EA-related projects, the process of reviewing the effectiveness of ORMCP policies, including section 41, to achieve its objectives will either be overly cumbersome or fatally flawed.
Recommendation: That the province establish a process to track all information related to ORMCP policy implementation, including municipal, provincial, federal, crown and private corporate infrastructure projects, in preparation for the formal 2015 ORMCP Review.
Recommendation: That the Inter-ministerial Performance Measures Working Group broaden its mandate to include all infrastructure projects as discrete components in its monitoring framework.
Recommendation: That municipalities track all EAs commenced on the Oak Ridges Moraine after November 17, 2001 and make this information easily accessible to the public.