Save the North Gwillimbury Forest
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Protect our forest!

One of the ten largest forests in the Lake Simcoe watershed, the North Gwillimbury Forest is a priceless natural asset for the Town of Georgina.  It stretches all the way from the north end of Keswick to Jackson’s Point — an area more than three times larger than Vancouver’s Stanley Park. 

North Gwillimbury ForestDG Group (formerly Metrus Development) is trying to leverage a 31-year-old approval to build a mobile home park in the heart of this forest to secure approval for a new subdivision in the Greenbelt.  In May 2015, DG Group chose to exploit a loophole deliberately left open by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and filed an application for a Section 28 permit required to proceed with the 1,073 unit Maple Lake Estates (MLE) mobile home park on the Paradise Beach-Island Grove provincially significant wetland in the North Gwillimbury Forest. 

Securing a Section 28 permit would, of course, further increase the company’s ability to get what it really wants – the right to develop the prime farm lands that it owns in the Greenbelt, land that is supposed to be permanently off limits to development under the Greenbelt Plan. Also increasing the company’s bargaining power is the refusal to date of Georgina Town Council to bring its Official Plan into full conformity with the York Region Official Plan, which prohibits development in the North Gwillimbury Forest’s wetlands and significant woodlands.   

Sadly, it seems like our local authorities are reluctant to enforce the rules when it comes to protecting provincially significant wetlands and prime farm lands. Instead, they continue to hold the door open so that DG Group has plenty of opportunity to trade its MLE lands for permission from the Government of Ontario to build a subdivision on prime farmlands in the Greenbelt between Deer Park and Boyers Roads.

Despite the fact that the LSRCA’s subdivisions-in-wetlands policy is illegal and that the Town of Georgina is legally obliged to repeal the MLE development approvals, our local politicians seem more interested in avoiding conflict with the DG Group than standing up for the conservation of our rapidly vanishing natural areas or valuable food lands.

Instead of the hand wringing exhibited to date by our local leaders, we need a clear message sent to the DG Group that provincially significant wetlands are off limits to development in Georgina.  The LSRCA and Georgina Council both have the authority to send this message. They need to use it. 

If the DG Group gets the message that the old mobile home park plan is dead, then we can start to have a more intelligent dialogue about shifting development to the South Keswick area actually designated for urban development under the Town’s Official Plan and where DG Group affiliates own land. This is a far better choice than farmland in the heart of the Greenbelt, a location that will only add to the problem of leapfrog development while increasing local traffic.

But it is going to take municipal leadership to make this happen.  The LSRCA board can start by refusing to issue a Section 28 permit to the DG Group for its outrageous request for permission to pave over a provincially significant wetland.

What you can do:


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Rescue Lake Simcoe

The North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance is a member of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition

Ontario Greenbelt AllianceThe North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance is a member of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance

Sign our petition demanding that the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority open the doors on its decision making


LRSCA Subdivisions-in-Wetlands Policy

Wetlands Policy Factsheet

June 11, 2015 letter from NGFA Planner Anthony Usher to LSRCA re: Maple Lake Estates and the “Conservation of Land” Test.

May 5, 2015 letter from NGFA Planner Anthony Usher, MCIP, RPP, to LSRCA re: Opportunity for public to review and provide submissions on any Section 28 application filed by Metrus

April 29, 2015 letter from NGFA Chair Jack Gibbons to LSRCA board questioning decision to postpone implmentation of new Watershed Development Guidelines.

April 22, 2015 letter from NGFA lawyer Leo Longo to LSRCA re: Metrus application for Section 28 permit and violation of undertaking to await implementation of new guidelines

Revised draft Watershed Development Guidelines would prohibit development in Provincially Significant Wetlands

Read our new factsheet comparing the wetland protection policies in Central Ontario Conservation Authorities

April 8, 2015 letter from Anthony Usher, MCIP, RPP, to LSRCA

Jack Gibbons speaking notes for LSRCA board meeting on March 27, 2015

Feb. 25, 2015 letter from Anthony Usher, MCIP, RPP, to LSRCA

September 26, 2014 letter from Leo Longo, Aird & Berlis LLP, to LSRCA

September 26, 2014 letter from Anthony Usher, MCIP, RPP, to LSRCA

July 28, 2014 letter from Anthony Usher, MCIP, RPP to LSRCA.

Reply from Mike Walters, General Manager, Watershed Management, LRSCA - August 18, 2014


Keep development out of the Greenbelt Protected Countryside

May 21, 2005 submission to Provincial Coordinated Land Use Review from NGFA Planner Tony Usher.

May 21, 2015 letter from NGFA Planner Tony Usher to Mayor Quirk and council.

Jack Gibbons’ Speaking Notes for his May 13, 2015 deputation to Georgina Town Council


Metrus development application premature

NGFA Planner Tony Usher’s March 11, 2015 deputation to the Town of Georgina re: Metrus’ premature subdivision application for South Keswick

NGFA Planner Tony Usher’s September 10, 2014 deputation to Georgina Town Council re: Metrus’ premature subdivision application for South Keswick

March 2, 2015 letter from NGFA Planner Tony Usher to Georgina Council re: ammended applications.

Town of Georgina must obey the law!

NGFA Lawyer Leo Longo’s August 21, 2014 submissions to Town of Georgina re: its Planning Directions Report

NGFA Planner Anthony Usher’s August 22, 2014 submissions to Town of Georgina re: its Planning Directions Report

Comments on Official Plan Review & Maple Lake Estates

According to NGFA planning consultant Anthony Usher’s March 20, 2014 letter to the Town of Georgina, the best option for a Maple Lake Estates development approvals swap would be to provide equivalent development approvals on lands owned by Metrus affiliates in south Keswick.

Click here to read Tony's letter

Map of South Keswick area

NGFA lawyer Leo Longo's response to Metrus' submission to the LSRCA

"Development rights" do not trump requirement for authority to act on its mandate to protect the watershed.

Submissions to LSRCA on need to repeal Maple Lakes Estate Loophole

From NGFA lawyer Leo Longo

From NGFA planner Tony Usher

Comments on Official Plan Review

NGFA Planning Consultant Anthony Usher’s December 20, 2013 letter to Town of Georgina re: Official Plan Review and Maple Lake Estates

MLE loophole not just bad policy — it's illegal

NGFA solicitor Leo Longo outlines why the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority's open door policy for development in provincially significant wetlands needs to be immediately repealed.

Read Mr. Longo's legal opinion

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Click here for more NGFA submissions


Environmental group decries Lake Simcoe mobile-home park project: A 30-year-old plan to build a trailer park on wetland may live on despite new rules curbing development in the area. - Toronto Star, May 10, 2015

Landmark agreement could be reached on North Gwillimbury Forest's Maple Lake Estates - Georgina Advocate, June 24, 2013

'Uphill battle' building over forest development - 70 residents pack hall to help stop Metrus - Georgina Advocate, April 29, 2013

Georgina residents fight historic development rights on wetlands - Toronto Star, April 22, 2013

Community involvement good for democracy - Georgina Advocate, April 4, 2013

'We will lose' legal battle on development: town - Residents feel plea to halt plan falls on deaf ears - Georgina Advocate, March 28, 2013

300 name petition to stop forest development - Georgina Advocate, March 21, 2013

Legal wrangling on impending Forest development - Georgina Advocate, Jan. 31, 2013

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Cedar tree in wetland

The North Gwillimbury Forest includes the York Regional Forest and the Arnold C. Matthews Nature Reserve. The Reserve will be cut off from the rest of the forest by Metrus' proposed Maple Leaf Estates.


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