PRESIDENT'S LETTER SPRING 2016
Dear PALS Supporters,
As we approach our 40th Annual General Meeting on May 5th, we can be proud of our many accomplishments and ongoing work to protect the best farmlands in Canada, the unique and threatened tender fruit lands of Niagara.
It seems like just yesterday that our efforts led to Minister of Agriculture Elmer Buchanan announcing the 1995 Niagara Tender Fruit Land Easement Program, which would, over the first 5 years, have protected 4,169 acres permanently, with plans double that in the following 5 years.
The program, which was bolstered by strong provincial policy and zoning, was cancelled before it began by the incoming government of Mike Harris, but we have been working hard ever since to get a new program off the ground with the very strong support of Cabinet Minister Jim Bradley and the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Jeff Leal. Our latest efforts were to make a compelling case for funding to the Associate Minister of Finance Mitzie Hunter during the 2016 budget consultations (see quotables), and to have several meetings with various staff in the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and the Premier’s office.
Given that the funding for our proposed easement program was not in the recent Budget, we are now preparing a strong case to tap into the newly announced funds for provincial programs under Ontario’s Carbon Cap and Trade Program for Climate change ( see article), as our program is almost identical to the California agricultural easement program and would be very much in tune with its goal of “being serious about integrating farmland preservation and land use planning as a path forward to meeting California’s ambitious climate-change goals.”
We march on, and will keep everyone in the loop in the months ahead. The work goes on with your kind support!
Sincerely, Doug Woodard
You're Invited To Our 2016 Blossom Walkabout on Saturday May 14th!
Liisa and Leo Harju have most kindly invited PALS members and friends to our PALS 10 km Blossom Walkabout on Saturday May 14th, 10 a.m. at their home at 1746 Cream Street, Fenwick.
We always have a wonderful lunch, to which we all contribute. So, if you wish to walk with us and raise much needed funds for PALS work, please phone Liisa at 905 892-7871 to tell her you are coming, what you are bringing and to get directions. We would also appreciate it is those who cannot attend would consider sponsoring our lead walkers, John Bacher, Leo Harju, Bob Janes, Mary Lou Bacher , or Gracia Janes. Or, if you have time, get some other friends to also sponsor a walker (see PLEDGE SHEETS) and send pledge sheet along with funds raised to PALS Box 2090 St. Catharines ON L2R 7A3 .Receipts for tax purposes will be issued for pledges $10 and up.
2015 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Dorothy Daley, Liisa Harju, Gracia Janes, Sam Mahboob Sandra O’Connor , Val O'Donnell, Doug Woodard, Barbara Woronowicz
PRESIDENT’S LETTER FALL 2015
Dear PALS' Supporter,
Your Board and our researcher John Bacher have had a very busy summer keeping up with, publicizing, and responding to, the Government of Ontario’s current multi-faceted planning process. In this we have had a particular eye on the “permanent” protection of the Niagara fruit lands and the long term protection of prime farmlands and natural areas within the Greenbelt and similar lands elsewhere in the province.
What is most unsettling is Regional Niagara Councils’ submission to the Greenbelt Panel, which completely disregards the Greenbelt Plan’s direction, that “the criteria and process to consider requests to ‘grow the Greenbelt’ are based on the following principles: Reductions or deletions to the Greenbelt area will not be considered”. And, more specifically regarding Niagara, “At the 10 –year Greenbelt Plan review period, modest settlement area expansions may be possible for Towns /Villages, provided the proposed growth does not extend into specialty crop areas.”
In clear opposition to this, the Regional Niagara brief is a compendium of ‘asks’, e.g. for land swaps, special near-urban designations, extension of boundaries for the sake of complete communities, flexibility, and most dramatically, an assumption that it is okay to take a stab at urban expansions regularly, rather than consider the Niagara fruit lands boundaries to be “permanent” in the true sense of the word. (see Places to Sprawl article on page 5)
For our part, we will continue to send a clear message to the Greenbelt Panel in its next round of consultations this Winter, that “permanence” means permanence, particularly for the irreplaceable Niagara fruit lands. At the same time, our PALS Easement Team will be meeting with Ministers and staff in the Ministries of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Municipal Affairs and Housing to work towards moving our Tender Fruit Land easement agenda forward expeditiously in order to ensure that the unique and threatened tender fruit land is protected “in perpetuity” and much needed investments in tender fruit farmers and the industry are made. As usual we will keep you posted on our progress and our challenges.
President's Letter Winter 2016/17Dear PALS Supporters,
This last several months have certainly been challenging, as our researcher, Dr.John Bacher (PhD), worked diligently to critique the Provincial Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine, Niagara Escarpment and Places to Grow Plans and ensure that other environmental groups were made aware of the threats posed by the Crombie Report and the subsequent provincial responses - a key one being 5 year instead of 10 year municipal plan reviews for municipalities within the Greenbelt, the same time frame as the rest of the province.
Meanwhile our easement team met with Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray to outline the huge bene ts of saving the best fruit lands in Canada by enlarging the scope of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) to mirror California’s Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation program (SALC). is $37.4 million program invests in the purchase of easements to protect the land base permanently, store carbon, avoid carbon emissions from urban sprawl, and secure zoning protections.
PALS is the oldest farmland preservation group in Canada, and over last 40 years we have not only led the way in e orts to curb urban sprawl in Niagara and elsewhere in Ontario, but have raised public awareness that our fruit lands and other prime farm lands, and farmer resources, are too valuable to lose. In this regard, we are very thankful for recent donations from the Niagara–based Hugh James Corcoran Memorial Trust Fund, which will allow us to update and reissue our tried and true educational materials over the next three years. ese will be, the h edition of the 1984 Taste Niagara cookbook - an Ontario Bi-Centennial project featuring a compendium of fruit history, helpful cooking hints and over 200 recipes to mark 200 years of agriculture in Niagara; the 1988 video Pick and Choose to Preserve Niagara Fruit Lands, outlining PALS land preservation battles; Niagara - A Very Special Place to Protect, a book about Niagara’s natural and built heritage, plus an accompanying eco-tour booklet and bus tour; and our elementary school Educational Kit on the fruit lands and industry.. All of these worthy endeavors will help us make the best of the years ahead, as we continue to help protect Niagara fruit lands and prime farm lands across Niagara, Ontario and Canada.
As usual we will keep you posted.Sincerely, Doug Woodard
QUOTABLE SPosition Paper by PALS Researcher Dr. John Bacher re the Need for Easements - 02/09/08
“Experience of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Shows Need For Agricultural Easements.”
“In 1996, the American Farmland Trust recognized Lancaster County’s farmland protection efforts with a national achievement award. According to Bob Wagner of the American Farmland Trust, Lancaster County is setting the pace for farmland preservation in the United States.” Like Niagara is within Canada, Lancaster County is one of the most productive farming regions in the United States. Daniel notes that, “It is the leading agricultural county not only in Pennsylvania but in the entire Northeast, with over $680 million a year in farm goods sold. It is also the nation’s number one non- irrigated farming country.”
“Another similarity between Lancaster County and Niagara, whose populations are almost identical , is that its excellent farmland is under intense development pressure from sprawl since it lies only sixty miles west of Philadelphia, which is the fourth largest city in the United States. Every year, Daniel warns, its “suburbs creep closer.”
“In the past, Lancaster county appeared to be doomed to the bulldozer. This is a situation described in the book, Garden Spot, by David J. Walbert, where he notes that, “In the early 1990s Lancaster County seemed to be hopelessly divided. On the one side businessmen and progressives insisted on the necessity and indeed the inevitably of growth...As Tom Daniels later recalled when he arrived in Lancaster in 1989, every acre seemed for sale....and yet, after 1990, the road to farmland preservation grew markedly easier...Farmers who had thought preservation a nice idea but impractical... including Larry Weaver, who had told the New Era in 1968 that farming was on the way out”, had a different attitude.” Walbert asks, “What made the difference?”
“The answer is simple - conservation easements! These are now so desirable that there is a seven year waiting list to sell them to either the Lancaster County Preserve Board, or the Lancaster Farmland Trust, both largely funded through the State of Pennsylvania. The program Daniels stresses, “has softened opposition to agricultural zoning.”
As in Niagara and its Greenbelt’s permanent boundaries, in Lancaster County, easements are purchased “within the contiguous agriculture security zones to maintain a critical mass of farmland that would enable farm support businesses to thrive.” Such strategic locations serve “as keystones to keep agricultural infrastructure viable.”
Also, like the points system of the doomed 1994-95 Niagara Tender Fruit Lands Program, the Lancaster Farmland Trust , as its website notes, “has made preserving farms that are adjacent to or within one mile of an urban growth area a priority. By doing so, the Trust can assure that development is contained within these urban growth areas”
The Amish farm in the movie “Witness” is one of the preserved farms in Lancaster County protected under its easement program. When you view this drama, full of heroic efforts to overcome development pressures, you may appreciate some of the struggle PALS has been going through in the past several years to obtain a conservation easement program for Niagara.”