PRESIDENT'S LETTER SPRING 2018
Dear PALS Supporters,
Spring 2018 brings with it new land use concerns in Ontario, as the recently released Greenbelt and Places to Grow documents show, that while Niagara fruit lands have a 10 year lifespan before another planning review, elsewhere across the province prime farm lands in the Greenbelt remain subject to innumerable future five year municipal Official Plan reviews. Meanwhile, this coming Spring election brings with it a sense of unease and déjà vu, which casts a dark shadow of the July 1995 cancellation of our Niagara Tender Fruit Land easement program and the reversal of restrictions on environmentally sensitive areas and fruit lands by an incoming pro- vincial government.
Nevertheless, PALS forges ahead, uncovering problems with government policies , pointing to potential lasting improvements, and urging the province to expand the Greenbelt in Niagara to include valuable areas, such as in the north/west area of Niagara Falls, which was declared by the 1981 OMB Hearing on the Niagara Regional Policy Plan to be fruit land, but has had to be defended by PALS ever since. As you can see, we are determined that permanent fruit land preservation will not be achieved through easily overturned land use policies, even those of the Greenbelt, but through the government purchase of restrictive easement covenants from farmers. Therefore, despite all the current uncertainties, we have seized what appears to be a ray of light within the provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change “Voluntary Carbon Offsets Program”, and will be meeting soon with that Ministry to show that Ontario, like California, can use pay- ments for easements on fruit land to not only sequester carbon, but ensure firm urban boundaries and prevent sprawl-just to name a few benefits. ( see article page 3 ) We will keep you posted on this recent effort and very much appreciate your continued interest and support of our work.
Sincerely, Doug Woodard
P.S. With kind donations from the James Hugh Corcoran Trust and the John Deere Canada Foundation, PALS continues to raise awareness of the very special nature of Niagara’s tender fruit and grape land through its 2017 2nd edition of the cookbook Taste Niagara, and seeks to educate a new generation of youth through our recently released educational video Pick and Choose to Preserve Niagara Fruit Lands ( Filmed by Stacey Koudys. Narrated by Jon Lepp, with direction from film expert, and producer of PALS 1980’s film by the same name, Don Alexander)
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/Winter 2018Dear PALS Supporters,
Our PALS Board of Directors felt strongly last Spring, that after 42 years of prime farmland preservation efforts, which in good part led to the establishment of the much lauded Ontario Greenbelt, we were within a hairsbreadth of achieving our goal of “permanent” protection of Niagara’s unique and extremely limited tender fruit lands. This could have been enabled through Ontario’s now defunct, Cap and Trade Carbon Reduction ‘Voluntary Carbon Offsets Program’, with farmers paid to place permanent easements/restrictive covenants on their land. And, just like home retrofits and other Provincial carbon reduction programs, the financing would come from carbon emitters.
The Board is of course very disappointed by the program’s cancellation, but we are already preparing our case for an easement-program investment in Niagara’s tender fruit farmers, similar to the millions of dollars planned for the NDP’s 1995 Tender Fruit Lands program, and the subsequent Conservative government’s easement-protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine farm lands and natural areas. Locally, with the recent very popular election of Jim Bradley, the former Provincial Cabinet Minister responsible for the initiation of the Greenbelt, to represent St. Catharines on the Regional Council, PALS is confident there will be even more support for permanent fruit land preservation region-wide. It will not be easy, as suddenly development clouds loom over all of Ontario’s prime farmlands. This was observed by PALS researcher John Bacher at a large and boisterous Queens Park consultation on November 6th, where most attendees, mainly development planners and lawyers, urged a pull-back from the Places To Grow constraints, and even a disbanding of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. (see quotables)
Such dramatic reversals of political direction show clearly why we must continue to educate the public, young people in particular, about Niagara’s history, geography, farming, and especially, the threats to, and methods of protecting, these irreplaceable fruit lands. In this regard we draw your attention to our new video, Pick and Choose to Preserve Niagara Fruit Lands, which can be viewed on the net at https://vimeo.com/263398425.
Regards, Doug Woodard