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Simcoe County hopes to join greenbelt

Cheryl Browne

By Cheryl Browne, Barrie Examiner

Nancy McBride, who has concerns with Tottenham's water supply, was one of several speakers at the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition at Midhurst United Church on Wednesday. PHOTO: CHERYLBROWNE/BARRIEEXAMINER

Nancy McBride, who has concerns with Tottenham's water supply, was one of several speakers at the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition at Midhurst United Church on Wednesday. PHOTO: CHERYLBROWNE/BARRIEEXAMINER

SPRINGWATER TWP. – In Simcoe County, we see water everywhere and believe we have an abundance of the precious resource.

Margaret Prophet of the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition would like to burst that bubble with a loud pop.

“The idea that our water is plentiful and secure is a myth,” Prophet told a group of about 30 people gathered at the Midhurst United Church Wednesday morning.

A panel of half-a-dozen interested parties, including the founder of Ontario Farmland Preservation, Bernard Pope, Tottenham mother Nancy McBride, who’s concerned about the quality of her tap water, Becky Big Canoe on the band council of the Chippewas of Georgina Island and environmentalist Bob Bowles spoke at the symposium.

With a pre-recorded video from former Toronto mayor David Crombie, the group is one of 30 across Ontario calling on the province to protect the greenbelt, which includes the Oak Ridges Moraine in the Greater Toronto Area, and add Simcoe County to those protected lands.

The idea is to create a bluebelt of protected lands around the existing greenbelt that would protect the source of drinking water for 1.25 million residents, as well as supporting agriculture economies.

Prophet, who also volunteers with the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association, said with the proposed expansion of the greenbelt into Simcoe County, it wouldn’t affect the proposed settlement areas previously approved for Springwater.

Prophet said Canadians are told we have 20% of the world’s fresh water, but only if you drain all of the Great Lakes.

“Sixty-five percent of our water flows to the Arctic circle, so we’re down to 2.8%. That water source is heavily used and overly stressed to the point that one in four Canadian communities are having water stress issues,” she said.

Add in the past summer’s drought conditions, future climate change forecasts, plus the Simcoe County District Health Unit’s statistics showing a steady increase of dirty beach water or ‘no swim advisories’, and you begin to get the message.

“Mother Nature is telling us there’s a problem here and it’s another sign saying to us that water is not as plentiful as we think it is,” Prophet said.

When farmer Pope spoke, he said farmers base their livelihood on their soil, which promotes proper crop rotation and water management.

“Farmer’s know health of their soil is the main ingredient for the health of their produce,” Pope said.

“Concerning this year’s drought, our general observations are there was 25% less production of hay in the first cut this year. The second cut dried to tinder, but with the rains of August, we got a reasonable third cut,” Pope added. “Some farmers believe the land is there to use as they see fit. Others take a more holistic approach and see farms as multi- generational, as a long-term investment.”

Big Canoe said she’s pleased to be developing a relationship with people who are concerned

about the area's water resources.

“I’m getting an education in terms of what planning has to take place and what to work towards in the future,” Big Canoe said.

The deadline for submissions to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for the expansion of the greenbelt is set for Oct. 31.

For more information, visit www.simcoeountygreenbelt.ca.

CBrowne@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/cherylbrowne1

 

 



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