Media Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 17th event in Claremont encourages public participation in review of Oak Ridges Moraine and Greenbelt Plans

Claremont, July 15, 2014 – The Oak Ridges Moraine is one of the most significant landscapes in southern Ontario and needs strong public backing to ensure its long-term protection. Save the Oak Ridges Moraine (STORM) Coalition, Earthroots, Ontario Nature and EcoSpark have initiated a campaign to strengthen protection of the moraine’s water, land and rural communities ahead of the review of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP) and Greenbelt Plan in 2015.

The groups are hosting a public meeting at Claremont Community Centre (4941 Old Brock Road) on July 17th to discuss the importance of protecting this ecological jewel and a controversial subdivision plan in Claremont. Doors open at 6:30, presentations begin at 7.

"When we started the political campaign to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine, the primary threat was urban sprawl," says Debbe Crandall, long-time activist with STORM Coalition. Ms. Crandall points out that through years of dedicated and committed grassroots advocacy, legislative protection for the Moraine was enacted over a decade ago. "While we have a strong policy in place to protect this landscape, there are new issues that need to be recognized and some policies that need to be strengthened. It’s an on-going process."

Since the ORMCP was established, the four environmental groups have been working with residents, scientists and academics, monitoring implementation and compliance. There have been a number of emerging issues that are threatening the ecological values of the moraine – issues that were not prevalent when lawmakers crafted the policy.

In the face of continued pressure to grow and develop rural agricultural lands, we need to recognize the many benefits the moraine provides to people and nature. "The 2015 review is a crucial opportunity to re-focus public attention on how much we depend on the natural attributes of the moraine and Greenbelt for clean air, clean water, open spaces and strong rural communities," says Josh Wise, Ontario Nature's Greenway Program Coordinator.

For instance, many members of the hamlet of Claremont in north Pickering are concerned about a plan to request a boundary expansion to allow for a 70-house subdivision. While this is not allowed under the ORMCP, this could be something that is raised during the review of the plan. The four groups point to this as an example of the need to have as many people as possible participating in this review. "With a lack of performance monitoring and science to inform policy, it is crucial that the public is involved to ensure the long-protection of the moraine," says Joyce Chau, Executive Director of EcoSpark. As Josh Garfinkel, Earthroots campaigner says: "We need to make sure that the review of the plans take place in public arenas and not in boardrooms away from the public eye."

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For more information, please contact:

Debbie Gordon, STORM outreach coordinator at 905-853-8340; dgordon@stormcoalition.org
Josh Garfinkel, Earthroots senior campaigner at 416-599-0152, joshg@earthroots.org
John Hassell, Ontario Nature communication manager at 416-786-2171, johnh@ontarionature.org

Earthroots is a grassroots conservation organization that works aggressively to protect wilderness, wildlife and watersheds in Ontario through research, education and action. Our dedicated staff and focused campaigns have achieved effective protection of threatened ecosystems for over 20 years on behalf of our approximately 12,000 supporters in the province. We use many techniques to propel issues forward including public education, advocacy, primary and secondary research, media awareness and creative peaceful activism. For more information, visit www.earthroots.org.

Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters and 150 member groups across Ontario (charitable registration # 10737 8952 RR0001). For more information, visit www.ontarionature.org.

Save the Oak Ridges Moraine Coalition (STORM) is focused on protecting the ecological integrity of the Oak Ridges Moraine. Since 1989, STORM has been working at the local and regional levels to ensure that municipalities make good planning decisions to protect its ecological and hydrological functions. For more information, visit www.stormcoalition.org.

EcoSpark is an environmental charity whose mission is to empower communities to take an active role in protecting and sustaining their local environment. We do this by giving people the tools for education, monitoring and influencing positive change. To date, we have directly worked with over 57,000 people from across Southern Ontario in over 20 watersheds. For more information, visit www.ecospark.ca.

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