The Toronto Star
NEWS, Tuesday, August 28, 2001, p. B01
Housing downgraded on moraine
Panel recommends banning large estates from countryside
would be protected from housing development on the Oak Ridges
Moraine under a revised proposal from a provincial advisory committee
that will be announced today.
The Oak Ridges
Moraine advisory panel has dropped a recommendation that would
allow the construction of large estate developments in some rural
areas one of the most controversial elements of the land-use proposals
on the 160-kilometre-long ridge. Such estate lots consist of a
large house on at least half an acre of land.
who chairs the advisory panel, was to make the announcement today
at the start of public hearings into the committee's recommendations
to divide the moraine into areas that would be protected and others
where development would be allowed.
will be no new subdivision development in the countryside,"
Vrancart confirmed yesterday.
wasn't our intent when we made the recommendations, but that's
how it was interpreted. We wanted to ensure the countryside is
maintained for rural and agricultural uses," he said.
a big step forward," panel member John Riley told The Star
about the last-minute revision made during a committee meeting
comprising environmentalists, elected municipal officials and
representatives of the housing, gravel pit and agriculture industries
was appointed to come up with land-use recommendations after the
Ontario government imposed a six-month development freeze on the
environmentally sensitive moraine starting last May.
which stretches from the Niagara Escarpment in the west to below
Rice Lake in the east, was created about 12,000 years ago when
two fingers of a retreating glacier pinched together and left
behind a layer of crushed debris. The thick sand and gravel deposits
of the moraine act as reservoirs, feeding the headwaters of several
local rivers and providing drinking water for more than 200,000
hurried over eight days of meetings in July to come up with the
land-use proposals that were announced earlier this month.
of estate development in an area called Countryside, which covers
38 per cent of the moraine (74,100 of the entire 195,000 hectares),
came under immediate fire from other environmentalists, who said
the large homes on big lots were no more welcome in rural areas
than are high-density subdivisions.
happy they've dealt with the estate issue. That's been a sore
point for us," said Josh Matlow, a campaigner with Earthroots
of four hearings begins at 7 p.m. today at the Uxbridge town arena,
where Vrancart was to announce the revision before opening the
meeting to public commentary.
panel recommends dividing the moraine into four categories with
varying levels of preservation:
An area covering 35 per cent of the moraine (68,250 hectares),
where such features as forests, kettle lakes and other wetlands
would be protected from new development with the exception of
farming and existing gravel pits.
Made up of woodlots, wetlands and rural areas that would link
core areas along with other natural corridors, such as river valleys
running north and south of the moraine. This 17 per cent (33,150
hectares) would have the same controls as Natural Core but would
allow new sand and gravel pits for the aggregate industry.
Covering 10 per cent (19,500 hectares) of the moraine, these are
urban areas where local municipalities have already approved housing
and other commercial and industrial uses.
they've dealt with the estate issue. That's been a sore point'
The panel has recommended against new subdivision development
in this rural and agricultural area. This segment would allow
commercial and industrial development, along with such major recreational
activities as golf courses and ski hills.
would be permitted in small developments around existing hamlets
on the moraine, Vrancart said.
also recommended setting restrictions on the commercial and development
aspects of the Countryside area.
might want to have a place where they make pies that's industrial,
but not an auto factory," said Riley, who is also science
director at the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The conservancy
is a national non-profit organization that has bought more than
1,000 hectares of the moraine for preservation.
to the Uxbridge meeting, public hearings will be held tomorrow
at the Caledon Community Complex in Caledon East; on Sept. 5 at
the CIBC Leadership Centre in King City; and on Sept. 13 at the
Lions Community Centre in Cobourg. All meetings begin at 7 p.m.
intends to create legislation this fall to provide land protection
on the moraine.