The Toronto Star
NEWS, Tuesday, May 16, 2000, p. B02

Individuals asked to join moraine fight
NDP, Liberal MPPs join criticism of development plans

Kerry Gillespie

As a conservationist, Lea Ann Mallet is used to encouraging people to save land in far away places.

Not this time.

Last night, Mallet was one of many speakers at a Toronto church urging some 150 people to get involved in saving the Oak Ridges Moraine.

"This is a piece of wilderness literally on our doorstep," said Mallet, who is with the environmental group Earthroots. "The Oak Ridges Moraine affects us all."

She wasn't just referring to the environmentally sensitive aspects of the ridge of gravel and silt which soaks up water, feeds dozens of rivers and recharges Lake Ontario - and from which much of Greater Toronto gets its drinking water.

"This is somewhere close to Toronto where we can still feel a sense of wilderness," Mallet said from the pulpit of the Church of the Holy Trinity, near Bay and Dundas Sts.

"Think about the spirit of the wilderness that lives within you."

Last night's town hall meeting, which included speeches from both politicians and environmental groups against urban sprawl, was an attempt to enlist Torontonians in the fight against development on the moraine, which has largely involved those in the regions around the city.

Several development applications for the area are before the Ontario Municipal Board, which is set to begin hearings on May 23.

Citizens asked to call their MPP and demand moraine protection

To save the moraine, the fight must transcend both geographic and political boundaries, Liberal MPP Mike Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence) said.

He then asked New Democrat MPP Marilyn Churley (Broadview-Greenwood) to get up and speak.

"You have no idea what it takes for a Liberal to invite an NDP politician to speak. That just goes to show his commitment to this," said Churley, her party's environment critic.

All speakers urged people to call their MPPs - particularly Tory ones - from May 23 to 26 when the politicians are to be working out of their constituency offices.

"MPPs will be focusing on issues in their ridings, uninterrupted . . . this is the perfect time to call your MPP, or even ask for a meeting, to press for tougher protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine," reads the flyer handed out at the meeting.