The Toronto Star
NEWS, Saturday, October 16, 1999
of moraine take action
Group in 'protest training' to save Oak Ridges area
YORK REGION BUREAU
isn't normally into civil disobedience.
But the 55-year-old
Oak Ridges woman is prepared to do whatever it takes to protect
her beloved moraine from bulldozers.
she and about 15 other concerned local residents are taking a
course in civil disobedience to better equip themselves in their
battle against the development of the Oak Ridges Moraine.
At noon today,
the group will meet for "protest training" in Oak Ridges,
at the guardrail on the north side of Stouffville Road, between
Leslie St. and Bayview Ave.
how to climb trees, and how to properly use bicycle locks, handcuffs
and lock boxes to immobilize big pieces of equipment.
taught when it's appropriate to simply picket or blockade a road.
They'll also learn how to deal with police officers on the scene
and, if arrested, how to negotiate through the legal system.
is a pro at civil disobedience. Lea Ann Mallett, co-director of
Earthroots, co-ordinated the 1996 forest blockades in Temagami,
and has been teaching protest workshops since 1989.
two-hour lesson will be like all the others: free, hands-on and
with lots of interaction, she said.
a workshop that gives people the ins and outs of what it means
to consider engaging in that type of protest," Mallett said.
"We do take it quite seriously if people are risking arrest.
They should understand how to deal with the police and what they
are getting into."
believe she's contemplating civil disobedience. As co-chair of
the Kettle Lakes Coalition, and a member of other environmental
groups, the most she's ever done in the past is write letters
and speak out at public meetings.
we would be diplomatic, and we could discuss and negotiate, but
they are not listening," she said. "It's a shame we
can't do it any other way. But I'm prepared to handcuff myself
to a tree, or a piece of machinery. I would not be able to sleep
well at night if I didn't give it my best shot."
others, Marsh is worried about the future of the moraine, an environmentally
sensitive system of Carolinian remnant forests, kettle lakes and
the moraine, which stretches 160 kilometres from the Niagara Escarpment
in the west to past Cobourg in the east, is heating up.
Hill, the planning commissioner wants a crucial sector of the
moraine declared open to urban development. In Uxbridge, a developer
wants to put 2,500 houses on it.
And work on
the Bayview Extension, a much-talked-about concept for the past
decade, is moving forward.
rain barrel of southern Ontario," the Oak Ridges Moraine
is a tall ridge of crushed rock, clay and sand that absorbs rain
and snow like a giant sponge. It provides drinking water for towns
such as Newmarket and Aurora and feeds the headwaters of major
rivers, including the Don, the Humber, the Rouge.
intrinsically connected to our environment and to nature,"
said Marsh, a landscape designer who has lived in Oak Ridges for
the past 22 years. "We need to preserve this for our own
health, not just the flora and fauna. It is so beneficial to us,
our drinking water, our quality of life."
the Kettle Lakes Coalition joined other environmental groups to
call on the province to spend $100 million to purchase the moraine
and preserve it as parkland.
seems to be listening, Marsh said.