Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Out Growing One's Mandate

Out Growing One's Mandate: 'Places to Grow' Vs. 'Places to Eat' & The Ridiculous Proposed Urban Node For the Midland-Penetanguishene Community

December 7, 2010

The Ontario Growth Secretariat
Ministry of Infrastructure
777 Bay Street, 4th Floor, Suite 425
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5
Email: placestogrow@ontario.ca

Attention: Ontario Growth Secretariat and Ministry of Infrastructure,

Re: The Proposed Urban Node For Midland-Penetanguishene

First of all I would like to thank you for your most gracious offer of allowing the public to have this opportunity to voice concerns over the Proposed Amendment 1 for the Simcoe Sub-Area to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006, under the authority of the Places to Grow Act, 2005. I trust that submissions and concerns made by various means to you will also become available for public perusal at some time in the near future.

I have a concern about the mandate that has been given the Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure. The Ministry of Infrastructure has incorrectly based our future economic welfare on a worn out - and under the circumstances -completely outrageous template of growth which unfortunately has already repeated itself ad infinitum destroying quiet little farming towns and villages in their wake. Brampton my home town was once such a place only to be replaced today by traffic congestion fueled by an ongoing construction of whats become a massive bedroom community with no places to work for local people. In order to work locals must mount a daily 2.5 to 3 hour journey to places that they can work.

The template of growth, touted traditionally as the model of generating economic prosperity for communities, in reality generates prosperity which only reaches the speculators and developers in most if not all of Ontario's municipalities. Along with the assistance of the un-elected Ontario Municipal Board's magic wand of approval- time and time again, this template of growth has systematically reduced the Province of Ontario's ability to feed itself. That is an emergency in itself as the most arable lands in the world; class 1, 2 and 3 are easily paved over without any regard for the future of the infrastructure needs of these communities and the needs the people they pile into them. Just ask the recent victims who've moved their families into the current urban sprawl of Barrie, Newmarket, Whitby and numerous others.

In many other places around the globe the issue of a community being capable of feeding itself is now considered a community security issue.
Paving over food lands using the template we've always relied upon to generate economic activity should in reality be challenged as the most pressing threat of our time to the healthy future of most of our Ontario communities.

Much of our food today comes to our grocery store shelves by trucks travelling from over 1,300 kilometres away. Does that make sense to anyone but, the truck drivers and the proprietors of the infrastructure and logistics to make that kind of silly event happen all 52 weeks of the year?
Have you people at the Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure even considered food as a community security issue?

As the Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure you have an enormous task in front of you. On the one hand you have the egos of all of these tiny villages and and wannabe suburbs vs. the real prospect of running out of food. And then of course there is the validity of your actual mandate thereof.

Yes!...The challenge of planning the future direction of the province and whether towns and villages within it like Midland and Penetanguishene should be considered as future urban nodes are difficult decisions to make., but then again it likely is not that difficult to remove these two wannabe suburb prospects from your list since people in South Central Ontario run to the Midland Penetanguishene area to escape suburbia. Ironically by establishing the towns of Midland and Penetanguishene as urban nodes you would be developing exactly that which the suburbanite populations rush up highways 400, 11 and 27 etc. every weekend to avoid.
These 'cottage country' communities have few other means of generating prosperity than in their Tourism and Hospitality industries.
They don't need to be developed as urban nodes. What they do need is to develop more imagination along the lines of developing economic prosperity for themselves without unwittingly setting fire to their only source of an economic engine available to them.

While you engage in your public meetings and the public consultation process through other means of communication you must account for local municipal interests, misinformed or not, in generating jobs and opportunities for their communities while paying greater attention to the bigger picture.

In conclusion I want to briefly drift back to my original concern with confirming the validity of your 'growth' mandate. You've likely recognized by now that you have outgrown this one. The Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure should be reconsidering that mandate in earnest. The Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure should turn their attention to goals which would actually benefit all of the participants in the communities they purport to speak on the behalf of including Midland and Penetanguishene. The Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure might also find it in their best interests and be especially diligent in replacing the cutesy catch phrase, "Places to Grow." The more obvious community goal and relevant reason d'etre you should be considering is the preservation of our provinces' remaining food lands which is a real future concern all critically thinking people might well be placing at the front of the line in concern rankings when community security and prosperity are of concern.

The obvious community goal reflected upon here which could/should also be the mandate of the Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure would/could/should read more like- The Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure Preserving "Places to Eat"
for Ontario's Vibrant and Imaginative Communities.

Below I have included an article I wish to draw to your attention. It speaks to the interest of preserving liveable communities and the issue of growth which should be of interest to you, the Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure while considering your current mandate and indeed the decisions you have to make thereof considering the best interests of the mosaic of concerns that make up our Ontario communities.
I trust that you will consider the concerns I've addressed and do the right thing and start seriously planning for the preservation of unique communities like Midland, Penetanguishene and many others like them that possess their own local sources of food lands and the independence and security they bring any community. I'm looking forward to this process being open and transparent as your interest in receiving public input would suggest.


Steven Kaasgaard

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Barrie Examiner's Series on Solar Farms

Visit the OntarioFarmlandPreservation.org website for the links to Marg Bruineman's four part series published in the Barrie Examiner.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Symposium a success!!

Alternative Energy & the Family Farm
This symposium, held on November 16th tackled various subjects surrounding Farmland, Soil Inventory, Alternative Power Generation etc. The meeting was sponsored by the Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture. Three of the seven presenters had PowerPoint presentations which they have agreed to make available. Download the PDF versions from the OntarioFarmlandPreservation.org Resources page.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More information about our Alternate Energy and the Family Farm Symposium

A full description of the Symposium format and a description of the proposed speakers can be found here. Please remember that if you intend to come, RSVP to the Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture at (705) 726-9300 Ext. 1224. Seats at the Museum are limited to 100 and are filling up fast!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Alternate Energy and the Family Farm Symposium

Join us on Tuesday, November 16 for a public Symposium to discuss "Alternate Energy and The Family Farm". The Symposium will feature Don McCabe, OFA Vice-President followed by a panel discussion moderated by Martin Vanderwoude from KICX 106.

At this symposium, we wish to show the vibrancy of the agricultural community from the prospective of the local producers, the local farm supply dealers, the interested political leaders and the community leaders.

We also want to bring into the discussion, other interests such as suppliers of microFit stations, the developers of larger solar Fit facilities and the local community voice.

We believe that with discussion and openness, our community can be a model for co-operation between the agricultural, food producing interests and the movement into green energy and as such show the provincial government that local organizations can successfully offer concrete possibilities to society.

Join us at the Simcoe County Museum, Hwy 26 in Midhurst; Tuesday November 16, 2010 beginning at 6:30 pm. To reserve a seat, please call the SCFA at 705-726-9300 Ext. 1224. Download the flyer.

Friday, October 1, 2010

New meetings planned

Please check our Public Meetings page to keep up to date on new events and meetings.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Two projects, two stories

A Recurrent Energy project proposal east of London Ontario has been withdrawn by the company following protests by local area residents who said that the subject land was valuable farmland and therefore should be excluded from development. See the full article in the London Free Press at http://www.lfpress.com/news/london/2010/08/29/15180831.html

There are problems in Peterborough over the Lily Lake Road Solar Farm... this will be an ongoing story for some time.
Concerns Raised over Solar Farm: http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2747211
Contractor plans to sue City utility: http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2749112

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Resolution by the Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture


Whereas the Preservation of farmland is important to farmers,

Whereas we consider large scale solar energy developments on good farmland inappropriate,

Whereas there are concerns of soil erosion, baked soil, disrupted carbon and nitrogen fixing, uncertainties of lease agreement details, and un-bonded construction projects,

Therefore Be It Resolved that the Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture request the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to prepare an assessment, such as was done for the Wind Leases, listing possible risks and liabilities.

Submitted by the Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture

August 17, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Newspaper Articles & Resources

Our main website ontariofarmlandpreservation.org has two pages of web links -- one is for online newspaper articles of interest, the other for web pages which link to information like solar potential maps, soil maps, government sites & legislative information.

Some of the new links we've just posted~~

One of the problems with The Green Energy Act is that it allows the Ontario Power Authority to “arbitrarily override” democratically elected councillors and mayors to impose energy projects. Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has vowed to restore veto power to communities over provincial energy projects if his party forms the next government.

This article shows that there could be worse things than putting solar panels over acres of viable farmland -- you could clear-cut a woodlot and drain a wetland to construct a solar farm!! This seems a possibility in Tay Township near Ottawa.

If the experts believe that Northwest Indiana does not have enough sunlight to produce economically viable solar power -- what makes anyone think that we could do it in Canada?

To study that further, you could visit the Photovoltaic potential and solar resource maps of Canada

Friday, July 23, 2010

Orillia Packet & Times letter

Letter to the editor [Orillia Packet & Times]:
re: David Hawke’s article – NIMBY crew hijacks solar power meeting

The bottom line is that solar panels do not belong on farmland. Landowners who buy into the large scale projects that our government is proposing are essentially saying "I surrender". Our government has encouraged and promoted large scale corporate farming in the name of corporate greed. They have made it very difficult for the small local farms to survive. So it isn't any wonder that farmers are struggling. But I am here to say Please, don't give up. We need our local farms for our children's future. Less than 15 % of Ontario is farmland and we will need all of our farmland in tact to feed the world's growing population. People say to me, you have to look at the bigger picture, and they are right. Our Prime Minister is currently negotiating a $16 Trillion deal called the Comprehensive Economic and Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. This deal specifically targets Ontario's Renewable Energy market. If this deal goes through there is no limit to the amount of farmland that may be used up for solar energy. The Ontario Government's Green Energy Act has been put in place to override the people's input. The Green Energy Act has removed our right to oppose these projects at the municipal level. This is unacceptable and unconstitutional. There are many alternatives for solar energy. The representative from Recurrent Energy (Robert Leah) has admitted that he does not know why our government is not installing solar panels on the thousands of acres of already cleared land under existing hydro towers. Small scale microfit solar projects of 10 kw or less are good. They provide solar energy within local communities, and each community can decide if the location and the benefits of the project suit their specific needs.

Corporations are running our government and the underlying message our government is sending farmers is to give up. Farming is a way of life that carries more meaning than any amount of money. It is a disappearing culture. Our consumer society is driving us away from being citizens and toward being fulltime consumers. A process that makes the rich get richer and the poor become poorer. We are going about our day to day business with a false belief that consumerism and money will bring us happiness. We need to fight for the preservation of not only Ontario's farmland but also our children's way of life. It is our children's, and our grandchildren's right to enjoy the connection with the land that their parent's enjoyed. People ask me, " but how can I make a difference? I am just one person." And I am here to say "We can all make a difference. All we need to do is leave our living rooms and tv sets , and walk out the door and attend meetings for AWARE Simcoe. The next meeting is Saturday July 24th at 10am at the Coldwater Community Centre. Aware Simcoe is here to help unite us all, so we can work together to support each other and make a difference. So please attend our meetings and voice your concerns. There is strength in numbers. Together we can send a message to our government that makes them accountable and transparent. We can let them know we are watching, and that they are working for us and our children's best interests. As children of the planet we have a responsibility to take care of it. We can start by defending our own backyards. Together, all of our backyards make up the planet. We must all have a voice for an environmentally and socially just society.

Cindy Hillard, Coldwater

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Support from Garfield Dunlop, MPP Simcoe North

To whom it may concern:

Thank you for the opportunity to offer my opinion on the installation of large-scale and large acreage solar projects on agricultural lands.

To begin with let me make it clear that I do not oppose solar energy and believe there is abundant space available on rooftops and non productive lands such as former landfills and quarries.

I am also adamantly opposed to the system which allows secret deals being made between the landowner and solar farm proponents without the municipal approval process. No other industry or individual has the opportunity to completely change the use of lands without municipal zoning and official plan amendments- where the public has the chance to voice their concerns. Large scale solar farms are in fact an industrial use of the property.

Finally, I think that solar panels on rooftops and small scale and acreage (1 or 2 acres) should be allowed providing the municipalities approve. Large scale projects on productive agricultural lands should not be permitted as I pointed out in the Committee hearings and in the legislature on the Green Energy Act.

Thanks Garfield.

Garfield Dunlop MPP Simcoe North

Comment from Judith Cox, Deputy Mayor of Severn Township

July 14, 2010

I am opposed to solar panel farm installations on Classes 1, 2, 3, and 4 farmland in Ontario

There is such a small quantity of good productive farmland available to grow food in Ontario and farmers only have access to 13% of this private land for producing crops and raising animals. These panels can block the sun and bake the earth under them. They disrupt carbon and nitrogen fixing and create a home for noxious weeds. We need to have plants growing in the fields to enhance the productivity of the soil. We need the plants to remove the carbon from the atmosphere, which reduces greenhouse gases.

I believe that solar generation is a good thing. There are 825 million square feet of corporation roofs in the GTA alone. These would be the appropriate homes for solar panels. Farms are essential to all of us and are the roots and future of this country. Farmers work hard to produce crops and supply us with food. Productive farmland needs to be saved for future generations.

The government needs to be supporting the farmers to keep working on these lands and keep the panels in urban areas.

Judith Cox
Deputy Mayor of Severn Township

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Reply from Noel

Hi Bernard,

Thanks very much, I appreciate it. To confirm, Recurrent Energy is currently proposing 19 projects in Ontario (10 in Simcoe County, six in eastern Ontario and three in southwestern Ontario), as identified at http://www.ontariosolarfuture.ca/projects.php

A total of 184 Feed-in Tariff (FIT) contracts were awarded in April 2010 to large scale renewable energy projects in Ontario, including 76 ground-mounted solar projects. Information on those contracts and the FIT program can be found at http://www.powerauthority.on.ca/Page.asp?PageID=924&ContentID=7221

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding these projects.

Best regards,

Monday, July 5, 2010

Note to Noel

Good Afternoon Noel;

At a recent meeting, you made a point of correcting me on the number of solar farm proposals that I had indicated Recurrent Energy had proposed in Ontario.
I told you then and I repeat here, that if I had forwarded incorrect information, or if there was incorrect information on our website, I apologize and upon correction from you, I will remove those numbers from the website and publish the accurate information.

I pledge to only place on the website, the true facts as well as information for your readers.

Once again Noel, thanks for the criticism.



Friday, June 25, 2010

Comment #1: The Issue

Within the last year there have been major changes in the farming communities that will prove to have devastating consequences to the future of farming in Ontario. The Provincial government (acting as a majority government) has passed the Green Energy Act. In doing so, they claim that the mandate of that government is to develop clean energy from sources such as solar and wind and that they, with Ontario Power Authority, will offer massive subsidies to land owners that will assist in generating electricity for the grid.

The two common ways of reaching their goal are as follows:
#1 The MicroFIT Program is one in which the land owner buys his own 10 kw (or less) generating unit and the Ontario Power Authority pays for the power that is fed into the grid. Most land owners place these structures where there is no significant loss of productive ground, whether the panels are placed on an existing roof, fencerow or barnyard. This program is to be encouraged.

#2 The FIT Program is where the land owner enters into a long term lease with a developer that will assume control over the land for up to thirty years. Under such arrangements, the land is fenced (8′), monitored with camera and motion sensors and the land is essentially lost to agriculture. Structures from 2-14′ high would then grace the land. This is not agriculture, but the construction of a long term electrical generating facility. The developer wants only large tracts of largely level land for his construction and has no concern for the land except as a base to hold the panels.

One developer from California claims to have tentative offers for 184 leases of Ontario land. If each parcel was 75 acres, that would equate to the loss of 13,800 acres. This is land that will never be back in food production as we know it – we’ll be telling you more about the devastating long-term effects of these “farms”.

This not a legacy our children want to see. Already there is valuable farmland lost to the uncontrolled growth of our cities, so surely the government has to think and act in a manner that is not selling out our farmland to largely foreign interests.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Ontario Farmland Preservation offers first hand experience, resources and organization to interested parties in the preservation of Ontario’s farmland.

We will work with the public, developers, government and concerned agencies to protect the food producing land that we are borrowing from our children.

Mission Statement

Ontario Farmland Preservation is Dedicated to Keeping Our Farms in Food Producing Agriculture