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Close the loophole and protect the forest!

Save the forest NOW!Thanks to York Region’s new Official Plan, Mayor Grossi and Georgina Town Council now have the opportunity to create a priceless legacy for Georgina residents — they can save the North Gwillimbury Forest (NGF) for present and future generations.   But, to do so, they must act quickly to plug a planning loophole.

Here is the good news: York Region’s new Official Plan prohibits development in the NGF’s wetlands and significant woodlands.  Furthermore, Ontario’s Planning Act requires the Town of Georgina to amend its Official Plan and zoning bylaw to bring them into conformity with the Regional Plan.  When this happens, the vast majority of the North Gwillimbury Forest will be permanently off limits for development.

However, it could take the Town a couple of years to bring its Official Plan and zoning bylaw into conformity with the Regional Plan.  In the meantime, it will still be possible for developers to apply for building permits despite the presence of wetlands or significant woodlands on their properties.  The Town needs to plug this loophole to ensure that the NGF will be protected — forever. 

The Town can plug the loophole by passing an Interim Control Bylaw to prevent development in key woodland and wetland areas where development is currently permitted.  This bylaw can keep these areas safe until the Town puts permanent protections in place.

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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


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Metrus development application premature

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

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

Conservation Authority staff report not accurate

Our planning consultant, Tony Usher, takes issue with LSRCA staff claims that other conservation authorities allow large developments in provincially significant wetlands.

Read Mr. Usher's response to the staff's report

Conservation Authority should close wetland development loophole

A report from NGFA planning consultant Tony Usher says there is no justification for the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority's blanket exemption for developments in Provincially Significant Wetlands. Mr. Usher also finds that this type of blanket exemption does not exist in the policies of neighbouring Conservation Authorities.

Read the full report

Groups call on Conservation Authority to make decision making around development in wetlands public

The David Suzuki Foundation, Ontario Nature, Environmental Defence, Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, Aware Simcoe and the North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance are jointly calling on the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) to make its decision making around issuing"Section 28" permits public and transparent. Metrus will require a Section 28 permit from the LSRCA to proceed with any development activities in the 86% of the Maple Lakes Estates property that has been designated provincially significant wetland.

Read the full letter | Ask the LSRCA to use its powers to protect wetlands.

Letter from the Living Waters Presbytery of the United Church of Canada to Town of Georgina

"We are asking United Church congregations in our Presbytery to support the efforts of Georgina citizens to save the North Gwillimbury Forest. We ask you as the Town Council of Georgina to do the same."

Read the full letter

NGFA solicitor Leo Longo responds to Town's latest assertions.

Mr. Longo points out that the Town's solicitor has fixated on a red herring (inclusion in the Regional Greenlands system) and has missed the bigger picture of a clear requirement to protect all wetlands and significant woodlands.

Read Mr. Longo's response.

NGFA solicitor Leo Longo explains why an Interim Control Bylaw is legally justifiable for the MLE lands.

Mr. Longo points to clear legal precedents that support the use of an Interim Control Bylaw to protect significant wetland and woodland areas while a municipality is in the process of updating its official plan to conform with a new Regional level plan and planning directions.

Read Mr. Longo's response

NGFA planning consultant Tony Usher responds to the reports from the Town's planner and lawyer on the applicability of an Interim Control Bylaw.

Mr. Usher points out that Town staff and its legal advisor have over-emphasized existing property zoning rather than recognizing that in some cases, such as with the MLE lands, these zonings must be changed to conform with the enhanced environmental protections of the revised Regional Plan.

Read Mr. Usher's response

Town continues its quest to green light development in provincially significant wetland and regionally significant forest

On Aug. 3rd, the Town of Georgina issued an "information update" that restates its position that the existing approvals for a mobile home park on the Maple Lake Estate lands trump environmental protection measures. Unfortunately, the town's assertions largely ignore the requirement to bring its official plan and zoning bylaws into conformity with the new York Region official plan within one year. The Region's new plan designates roughly 80% of the MLE lands as significant wetlands and woodlands that are off limits for development.

Read the response from NFGA's lawyer and planning consultant to the Town's information update.

Town turns blind eye to development limits

On July 19th the Town of Georgina issued a media release about Maple Lake Estates and Metrus’s decision to withdraw its request for a special deal.  

The Town’s media release which states that “nothing has changed for the MLE development” is misleading.  It is also inconsistent with the May 24, 2012 email from Velvet Ross of the Town of Georgina which explained why a special deal (“Minutes of Settlement”) with respect to the new York Region Official Plan was necessary to allow Metrus to proceed with the mobile home park development approved 25 years ago.

Please see our lawyer’s comments on the Town’s press release.

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

Letter from Ontario Nature to the Town of Georgina opposing development in a provincially significant wetland

Letter to York Region councillors from the Rev. Jim Keenan seeking clarification of intentions regarding negotiations with Metrus

York Region Environmental Alliance calls on town to protect North Gwillimbury forest

Snake Island Cottagers Association asks town to withhold approval for MLE development, May 24, 2012

Trees keep us healthy - new report outlines tremendous health benefits of trees and forests.

Why and how the MLE development can be stopped. Letter to Georgina Mayor Robert Grossi, Feb. 9, 2012

Development can be stopped - Letter to the Georgina Advocate, Jan. 27, 2012

Metrus development far from a done deal - Letter to the Pefferlaw Post, Jan. 16, 2012

South Lake Simcoe Naturalists endorse call for forest protection

Alliance for a Better Georgina opposes MLE development





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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