NEWS, Sunday, October 19, 2003, p. A1
Environmental groups maintain homes will never be built.
Controversy doesn't curb buyers' interest, sales agent
were snapping up choice lots on the environmentally sensitive
Oak Ridges Moraine yesterday despite warnings from protesters
outside a builder's Richmond Hill sales office that the development
will never get off the ground.
people peacefully picketed the site of the proposed Macleod's
Landing subdivision by Aspen Ridge Homes on the west side of Yonge
St. at Stouffville Rd., waving "Reclaim the Moraine"
and "Save It - Don't Pave It," placards at the official
A steady stream
of browsers and buyers visited the sales office throughout the
day despite the leaflets from protesters who reminded them of
premier-designate Dalton McGuinty's pledge to block development
of 6,600 homes on the moraine, including those proposed by Aspen
reported they were so busy, in fact, they could barely find a
moment to speak to reporters.
Swinden said sales were going well but wouldn't divulge figures
or comment on the demonstration.
if the protest was hurting sales, Swinden replied, "Why would
it?" At a Liberal party policy conference in Etobicoke yesterday,
McGuinty said, "Anybody who has any kind of interest in the
moraine and those developments in particular, should understand
that there is now a government in place in the province of Ontario
that is committed to providing permanent protection to the moraine."
his government will stand by its commitment to halt the 6,600
planned houses on the environmentally sensitive tract of land.
He said given
that his party's platform has been public for a year, developers
shouldn't be surprised that they will be forced to abandon their
Staff in the
premier-designate's office have been examining their options when
it comes to halting the project, including passing a cabinet order,
introducing legislation or launching a court challenge to stop
the development approved by the former Tory government.
Hill, potential buyers ranged from young families looking for
a townhouse in the $253,000-$315,000 range to others trying to
buy detached homes ranging from $320,000 to $518,000.
to be here to give people the information they need so they don't
throw away their life savings on a house that will probably never
be built," said Rick Smith, of Environment Defence Canada,
one of the protest groups.
all the billboards they've put up on Yonge St., the builder's
strategy is to entice people in here and advance this development
as much as possible before the new government takes office (on
isn't being fair to the public by selling houses and accelerating
work in the face of McGuinty's pledge, Smith said.
complaints from area residents that graders started working 24-hours
a day in response to (McGuinty's) announcement."
Ridge site had been cleared by bulldozers although no utility
services or roads have been installed and no homes have gone up.
involved on the moraine are Brookfield Homes and The Kaitlin Group.
The developers have issued a statement noting the process has
involved approvals at the municipal, provincial and federal levels
and consultations with interest groups. They contend it's too
late to stop their projects.
security guards who threatened to arrest them if they ventured
on to the property, Smith and other protesters handed out leaflets
to motorists entering the site.
to politely accept them and listen to their views, while others
ignored them and drove on.
honked or waved to show their support, but others gave protesters
the finger. One man driving a luxury model SUV, aimed it at Josh
Matlow, of Earthroots.
back from the slow-moving vehicle as the driver grinned at him.
No police were present. Matlow just shook his head in disgust.
of the Environmental Defence Canada, said most of the prospective
buyers are "hard-working, good people who are being lured
into thinking they're buying the house of their dreams and that's
appalling. We're here to make sure they have the right information
to make their decisions."
"On a scale of 1 to 10 for environmental arrogance, these
guys are an 11."
cheap here," said environmental convert George Richards,
who visited the sales site and then talked to protesters before
deciding not to buy a home there. He said he'd like to see the
area preserved instead.
recently moved with his wife to the GTA from Montreal and they
are looking for a house. He wasn't familiar with the moraine controversy
until talking to protesters.
know why they're selling houses if they can't build," said
Morsillo, who decided against purchasing a home there, though
more for economic reasons.
also visited the pavilion but decided against buying. "The
moraine is for all the people," she said.
buyer John Catosta said he was interested in buying, but the controversy
over the future of development was giving him cold feet.
wondering what's going to happen to my money if I put it down
on a house here."
from Caroline Mallan