NIAGARA FRUIT LAND    pals@becon.org     



Dear PALS Supporters,

The last few months have certainly been an af rmative time for PALS as we came to the end of our 41st year of work to protect this special part of Canada and Ontario. That is, Niagara’s prime farmland, natural areas and especially its unique fruit lands.

The most recent evidence of our success lies in the welcome Provincial Court turn-down of the Niagara Falls request for judicial hearing of PALS 2015 Ontario Municipal Board win against proposed development of 185 acres of grape lands, prime farmlands and natural areas. This in turn prevented a very large nearby agricultural area from certain development had we lost either the OMB or the court case. Along with this victory came the Niagara Escarpment Commission’s refusal to bow to municipal demands for urban intrusions into the Escarpment. (see article).

We were also grati ed that the Province has refused to bow to enormous municipal and development pressures to break the protective Greenbelt strictures here in the fruit lands. It remains to be seen however, if they will give in to the latest Niagara Region requests to create special development areas outside the designated “growth areas in Thorold, Niagara Falls, Fort Erie, Welland and Port Colborne or allow development in un-serviced hamlets ( see article).

Meanwhile, we are looking to the future , having energetically moved ahead with the updates of our educational materials so a future generation of potential environmentalist will know and appreciate Niagara’s unique fruit lands and natural areas. And of course we continue to educate our political representatives on the need for “in perpetuity” permanence through easements, our latest effort being the 2017 Budget Submission which we sent to the Premier and 8 key Cabinet Ministers. (see quotables)

Our work never ends, but we know with your support we can handle it all and we’ll continue to keep you up to date on our progress !

Sincerely, Doug Woodard

You're Invited To Our 2017 SATURDAY MAY 6TH At Liisa and Leo Harju’s home in Pelham

Liisa and Leo Harju have most kindly invited PALS members and friends to our PALS 10 km Blossom Walkabout on Saturday May 6th, 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.

To see the whole spring news letter, click here.


Dorothy Daley, Liisa Harju, Gracia Janes, Sam Mahboob Sandra O’Connor , Val O'Donnell, Doug Woodard, Barbara Woronowicz


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.

Sincerely,Doug Woodard

To see the whole fall news letter, click here.

President's Letter Winter 2018

Dear PALS Supporters,

2018 will be the beginning of PALS’ 43nd year of farmland preservation endeavors, and as the oldest farmland preservation group in Canada, we have much to be proud of. Our extensive public education efforts and the many OMB battles we fought eventually led to the protection of Niagara fruit land under Ontario’s Greenbelt Plan. We are particularly thankful to be able to rely on the tried and true expertise of PALS’ researcher Dr. John Bacher (PhD), who, with PALS supporter Jean Grandoni and the excellent representation of environmental lawyer David Donnelly, helped score a land-mark OMB hearing victory to protect important farmland and natural areas in Niagara Falls. Even more crucially as it relates to the Greenbelt , John and the late Dan McDermott, were the first environmentalists to raise the alarm that Ontario’s Greenbelt planning might go awry should strong development pressures win the day with the government.

Fortunately for PALS and others who value farmland and natural areas, more groups such as the Ontario Farmland Trust and the Greenbelt Alliance, and even one Ministry of Municipal Affairs staff person, joined in and the Government didn’t back down on Greenbelt protections, added some areas in , and appears to be planning even more expansions . Nevertheless, these commendable efforts will not ensure “permanent” protection for the unique and threatened tender fruit lands of Niagara; witness the gradual but steady erosion of the BC Land reserve and the continued threats to the Niagara Escarpment.

Therefore, we move steadily on with our work to promote the Niagara tender fruit land easement program, and were heartened recently to hear from the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Jeff Leal, that the Ministry is supportive and they are hoping to find easement funding within Ontario’s Cap and Trade Climate Action program, as is done in California in order to avoid sprawl-related carbon emissions and take advantage of crop-storage of carbon. Meanwhile we will continue to educate the public through our newsletters, web site, and, thanks to the generosity of the James Hugh Corcoran Family Trust, our newly printed 2nd edition of the Taste Niagara Cookbook, and next spring, a new version of the 1989 video, Pick and Choose to Preserve Niagara Fruit Land. Again, thank you for your interest in and support of our work.

Sincerely, Doug Woodard

To see the whole winter news letter, click here.