Oak Ridges Moraine Template Letter
Honourable John Gerretsen
Ministry of the Environment
77 Wellesley St. W- Ferguson Block
Dear Minister Gerretsen,
I am writing this letter to express my concern with ongoing issues that are affecting the Oak Ridges Moraine. The Moraine is a distinct and integral landform in a part of the province that is growing more rapidly than any other region in the country. The strain that unsustainable planning and water use have placed on the Moraine’s vital watersheds means that future development and water use needs to be examined with appropriate caution and greater scientific understanding.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s (MMAH) ‘Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP)’ makes significant strides in protecting the ecological and hydrological integrity of the Moraine. However, looking at the research that Earthroots, Ecojustice, and STORM Coalition have conducted, it is becoming increasingly clear that while the ORMCP has managed to put a stop to most development on the Moraine, it does not have the strength to adequately protect the Moraine’s water.
Ontario’s Water Hazard, a joint Earthroots and Ecojustice publication highlights how the over-use of Moraine water in the Aurora/Newmarket area has led to steadily declining groundwater levels extending beyond the past decade. Similarly, in light of respective proposed developments in Colgan and Fraserville that are seeking to access Moraine waters from afar, STORM Coalition and Earthroots are working to address policy gaps that make it possible for developments taking place outside of the boundary of the ORMCP to legally access Moraine waters through lengthy pipelines.
Issues effecting Moraine aquifers and groundwater are falling outside of the purview of the ORMCP. As the Ministry responsible for the Permit to Take Water (PTTW) system and its goal of monitoring and sustainably allocating groundwater resources, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) must fall in line with the goals of the ORMCP – protecting the hydrological integrity of the Oak Ridges Moraine – otherwise, Moraine aquifers and water resources will continue to be degraded.
The failings of the current PTTW system are made extremely clear in Ontario’s Water Hazard: despite ongoing declines in groundwater levels and a high density of water takings in the Aurora/Newmarket area, the MOE has continued to renew existing permits at their current level of taking, and to issue new permits to seemingly any proponent who fills out the paperwork. The MOE is not examining the cumulative impacts of water takings on this high use watershed, despite clear evidence that current water use is not sustainable.
The PTTW system is failing the Oak Ridges Moraine, and is likely failing other sensitive areas as well. This is the system that should be ensuring sustainable use of Moraine waters, and it is the only safeguard that would stop developments in Fraserville and Colgan from draining Moraine aquifers from afar. It is clear that a special class of PTTW is necessary to protect sensitive environmental areas like the Moraine. I urge your Ministry to work together with the MMAH to ensure a sustainable future for the Oak Ridges Moraine and its water resources by introducing a new and improved PTTW process to provide much greater scrutiny for sensitive areas.