Province lags on moraine plan
Report card says more
Municipal bylaws not all approved
by Laurie Monsebraaten
The Toronto Star
Jun. 15, 2006
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Four years after introducing a conservation plan for the
Oak Ridges Moraine, the province has yet to approve zoning
bylaws in most municipalities responsible for protecting this
important source of the region's drinking water, an environmental
watchdog group says.
Queen's Park has also been slow to release technical studies,
definitions and maps that would help citizens and municipalities
better understand what's happening on and beneath the sand
and gravel moraine landscape, says the Monitoring the Moraine
project in a report card to be released today.
"It's confusing for municipalities and very difficult
for groups like ours to monitor what's happening if none of
the municipal plans are in place yet," said Nathan Fahey,
co-ordinator for the group. "Citizen volunteers are anxious
to begin monitoring and it's difficult if they don't have
the ecological or policy monitoring tools."
As of April 22, just four of Greater Toronto's 24 municipalities
within the moraine — Vaughan, Markham, Port Hope and
Hamilton — had zoning bylaws in force that reflect the
policies of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, the report
says. Aurora and Newmarket bylaws were approved last month.
This, along with the lack of a framework to determine how
well municipalities are conforming, makes it difficult to
evaluate the act's effectiveness in protecting the moraine's
ecological and hydrological integrity, the report says.
The report calls for the province to assign more staff to
approve municipal bylaws and to finalize technical studies.
Provincial officials acknowledge it has taken longer than
anticipated to approve municipal zoning bylaws and to complete
studies. But municipal affairs spokesman Victor Doyle said
the extra care and collaboration taken in the process has
led to a high level of accuracy and support among municipalities
and affected landowners.
The province added the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan
as a regulation to the Oak Ridges Moraine Act in April 2002.
It calls for the protection of wooded areas and sources for
municipal wells, watershed-based planning, groundwater studies
and mapping of landforms and underwater streams.
The moraine plan along with the greenbelt and the Niagara
Escarpment make up a comprehensive system of protected green
space in one of North America's fastest growing urban areas.
While the Niagara Escarpment Plan is provincially funded
and administered by the Niagara Escarpment Commission, no
such provincial oversight exists for the moraine, Fahey said.
Instead, municipalities are responsible for moraine and greenbelt
policies through their official plans and zoning by-laws.
The moraine monitoring project, which will rely heavily on
citizen participation, is an attempt to ensure municipalities
and landowners are interpreting the plans in a consistent
and effective manner, Fahey said.
With the annual report card, the group will present their
first annual "hero" awards tonight to recognize
those who have advanced the cause, he said.
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Status Report on the Implementation of the Oak Ridges
Moraine Conservation Plan:
Implications for the Greenbelt Plan
version (Landscaped) [1.99 MB]
version (Lower resolution) [537 KB]