Moraine Can’t Wait
New: On behalf of the Moraine Can’t Wait campaign, Ontario Nature, Earthroots and STORM recently delivered more than 8,000 signed postcards to Premier McGuinty asking that the Province step in to prevent further degradation of this highly sensitive landscape. To read the accompanying letter, please click here.
Ontario’s rain barrel is protected on paper rather than in practice
Long-eared owls can be found on the Oak Ridges Moraine
The summer of 2011 marked the 10th anniversary of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act. Even so, the construction of infrastructure, contaminated fill, large-scale water removal and grandfathered development continue to undermine the integrity of this ecological treasure.
Extending for 160 kilometres north of the Greater Toronto Area, this unique land formation possesses important prairie, forest and wetland habitats, many of which are a refuge for rare plants, birds and turtles. Indeed, fully 40% of Ontario’s species at risk rely on the Oak Ridges Moraine and surrounding protected countryside for survival. Dubbed southern Ontario’s “rain barrel,” the moraine also houses the headwaters of 65 river systems, supplying clean drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people.
Despite the laws and policies in place to protect it, over the past decade the moraine has suffered lower water levels, loss of agricultural land, species in decline and habitat fragmentation. The key on-going threats are:
- Infrastructure: Roads, pipes and transmission lines continue to be built on the moraine, even through core natural areas.
- Dumping: Hundreds of thousands of truckloads containing fill, in some instances contaminated with heavy metals and petroleum hydrocarbons from old industrial sites, are dumped into abandoned aggregate pits. No provincial monitoring is in place to track dumping. If fill leaks into the watershed, it poses a significant health risk to the citizens who depend on these sensitive features for drinking water.
- Water removal: More than 100 million litres of water are pumped out of (or leak out of) the moraine’s aquifers every day while runoff contaminates ground and surface water. One study looking at golf courses on the moraine revealed that 10 courses alone can use as much as 3.1 billion litres of water annually, enough to meet the needs of 25,000 people. There are 47 golf courses scattered across the Oak Ridges Moraine.
- Development: Golf courses and subdivisions continue to pop up on the moraine because they were approved (“grandfathered”) before the protection act was passed 10 years ago.
These activities should not be occurring in a “protected” place.
A review of the Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Plan is scheduled for 2015. But we cannot wait until then for these threats to be addressed. Everyone who cares about the moraine must speak out. Let’s hold our provincial government accountable. The Province must address the crisis in this one-of-a-kind place. The moraine can’t wait.
For more information, visit the Moraine Can’t Wait website: morainecantwait.ca
Campaign contact: Victoria Foote, Director of Communications 416 444-8419 ext. 238; firstname.lastname@example.org.
How You Can Help:
In the weeks leading up to the provincial election, ask political candidates in your riding what they will do to better protect the Oak Ridges Moraine. Please visit www.morainecantwait.ca for a direct link to a form letter to submit/fax to candidates and party leaders asking that the moraine be truly protected.
Post election, ask your MPP what he or she is doing to help protect the moraine.
The Oak Ridges Moraine:
* Covers 190,000 hectares and stretches 160 km from the Trent River to the Niagara Escarpment.
* Forms the headwaters of 65 streams flowing south to Lake Ontario and north to Lake Simcoe, Lake Scugog, Rice Lake and Georgian Bay.
* Provides drinking water to more than 250,000 people on the moraine and millions more in the Greater Toronto Area.
* Supports the largest and most diverse breeding populations of birds in Southern Ontario.
* Is home to 32 kettle lakes – a very significant habitat.
* Hosts the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail – a 273 km recreational trail that traverses the entire length of the Moraine.
* Provides habitat for 40% of Ontario’s species at risk including bobolinks, red-shouldered hawks, monarch butterflies and peregrine falcons.