Time for Action: Follow Up to Quarrels with Quarries Webinar

I’m writing to invite you to a follow-up meeting to the Quarrels with Quarries webinar.   On July 9th at 7PM we will focus on action!  The purpose of this meeting is to plan for a province-wide campaign to challenge the Ford government’s aggregate expansion agenda–and we want your input.

RSVP for the July 9th aggregate campaign planning meeting  

This campaign planning meeting will be hosted by Wellington Water Watchers.  Wellington Water Watchers has been engaged with four groups fighting quarry applications in their communities – Concerned Residents Coalition (Hidden Quarry); ACTION Milton (Campbellville Quarry); Ramara Legacy Alliance (Fowler); Citizens for Safe Ground Water (Hallman Pit). WWW supports these campaigns as aggregate extraction is the #1 threat to groundwater in Ontario. 

WWW and the Wilderness Committee believe it is time for a province -wide public campaign to draw attention to the cumulative impact of aggregate extraction in Ontario and the injustice of the David vs. Goliath fights community groups are forced to wage.

Please join us in outlining the first steps in moving forward.   The campaign planning meeting  will take place on Zoom at 7pm on Thursday July 9.  You can register here: 


Hope to see you there!  

In the meantime, don’t forget  to add your comments to the environmental registry to oppose the recent Ford proposal to remove restrictions to gravel pits and quarries in endangered species habitat.  You can do it easily with this handy tool: https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/take-action/tell-ontario-stop-sprawl-protect-nature


Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is proposing to make amendments to the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) region’s growth plan
 From a Concerned resident of Greater Golden Horseshoe area
Environmental Defence has an online petition you can sign:

Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is proposing to make amendments to the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) region’s growth plan (A Place To Grow – Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe).

Proposed amendments include expanding the horizon for growth projections from 2041 to 2051 (which causes the projected population growth to increase from 13.5 million to 14.9 million), and allowing municipalities to “make available land for urban development to accomodate the needs of the growth forecast for a time horizon of up to 25 years” (currently, the time horizon is 20 years). Limits on development within certain areas within the GGH (such as Simcoe County) will be removed. In addition, a second proposal from the Ministry indicates that “Assumptions [on population growth] that include density targets lower than those required in the Plan would require Minister’s approval.” The cumulative effect would be a required increase in urban development.

There are also changes to several definitions within the growth plan, including:

– “Cultural Heritage” (removing the following: “Examples may include, but are not limited to, heritage conservation districts designated under the Ontario Heritage Act; villages, parks, gardens, battlefields, mainstreets and neighbourhoods, cemeteries, trailways, viewsheds, natural areas and industrial complexes of heritage significance; and areas recognized by federal or international designation authorities (e.g., a National Historic Site or District designation, or a UNESCO World Heritage Site).”)

– “Ecological Function” (removing mentions of hydrologic and chemical functions)

– “Habitat of Endangered Species and Threatened Species” (reducing the number of species to which the term may apply)

– “Municipal Water and Wastewater Services” (adding that such services may be decentralized)

The proposal also states the following:

“Mineral aggregate resources plan an important role in the development of housing and municipal infrastructure. Ensuring adequate aggregate resources are available is critical to achieving the success of [A Place To Grow]. The proposed changes will make it easier to establish mineral aggregate operations closer to market and the product’s end users throughout the GGH.The proposed change to the Plan’s aggregates policies would be more permissive of new aggregate operations, wayside pits, and quarries within the Natural Heritage System for the Growth Plan.”

I have only highlighted amendments within the proposal; the full document is linked below.

Overall, it appears that the proposed amendments would skew the GGH’s growth plan to favour the interests of large land developers and mineral exploitation/aggregate operations. In the context of the definition changes listed above, I am concerned that this new plan will endanger existing natural and rural landscapes, as well as sources of drinking water.

Please alert anyone within your organization who may be interested in this issue. Additionally, if possible, would you mind keeping me updated on any actions your organization may take?

Proposed amendments:

Environmental Registry of Ontario post: Proposed Amendment 1 to A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Environmental Registry of Ontario post: Proposed Land Needs Assessment Methodology for A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Current GGH growth plan:


OFO Call Notes: Ontbirds Reopening,

OFO News, Time-Sensitive Conservation Issues

Ontario Field Ornithologists Call Notes

News and events for Ontario’s birding community

June 20, 2020

Welcome to Call Notes!

As always there is a lot to talk about. This email includes updates on:

Ontbirds Reopening
June OFO News – not just for OFO Members during the pandemic
Tick Information
Time-Sensitive Conservation Issues: Piping Plovers, Barn Swallows and Minister’s Zoning Orders
Upcoming Events

Ontbirds: Open for Sightings Reports

With the easing of the pandemic restrictions in many parts of the province, OFO has decided the time is right to reopen Ontbirds for rare bird reporting. Please wait a few days while we update our posting guidelines to indicate which birds are considered rare or reportable.

We are also easing the requirement to include detailed directions in every post. However, please include the species and general location in the subject line. Please also include the time of the sighting and general location in the body of the message.

And it goes without saying that, although restrictions are easing across the province, please do not travel unnecessarily and make sure you follow the local and provincial physical distancing guidelines.

OFO News June Edition

The June edition of OFO News is en route to OFO members; in fact, some of you will have already received it. It is also posted on our website at: http://www.ofo.ca/library/list/key/on. During this time, the online version is available to everyone — even if you are not an OFO member.

With this issue, we introduce the OFO Birding Academy, a series where experts will explore bird ID challenges. The first article, by Tony Beck, delves into the differences between crows and ravens.

Other articles in this issue include:

Birding at Home Challenge – The Results So Far
In Praise of Birdsong: All about Songs
Eavesdropping on Birds: Bioacoustic Monitoring in Hamilton
Summer Birding in Lesser-known Ontario Hotspots
Ticks in Ontario
The Battle to Save Waverly Woods

We are proud of this issue and hope you enjoy it.

Tick Information

Please read Angie Williams’ article on ticks in the June OFO News. Then, check out this link for further information.

I'm sharing some important information about ticks. Please be careful out there.

Posted by OFO – Ontario Field Ornithologists on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Conservation News

The following three issues are the most time-sensitive and we wish to draw these to your attention.

Sauble Beach Piping Plovers: Beach Maintenance Proposal: Open for comments until June 25th

Once again, the town of South Bruce Peninsula is proposing doing mechanical beach raking of Sauble Beach near occupied Piping Plover nest sites. You may recall that the town proceeded with illegal bulldozing of the beach in 2017, and in 2019, was convicted and fined for destroying Piping Plover habitat.

OFO, along with Birds Canada, Ontario Nature and Owen Sound Field Naturalists is strongly opposed to the proposal for several reasons, including: the timing of the activities to coincide with Piping Plover nesting season, the intrusion into the foraging margin of the plovers, and the vagueness of the proposal – there is no plan, no oversight and no commitment to protect the endangered plovers.

The proposal is available for review and comment until June 25th at: https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-1818

We will be posting our response on Facebook and our website.

For additional information, please read Ontario Nature’s thorough comments at: https://view.publitas.com/on-nature/ero-019-1818/page/1

2,000 Strong London Bank Swallow Colony Threatened by Development

A large Bank Swallow colony with close to 2,000 birds is threatened because of proposed construction. Bank Swallows are protected species and destroying their habitat is illegal.

For more information and to sign a petition aiming to halt the imminent destruction, please go to https://www.change.org/p/city-of-london-save-london-ontario-s-bank-swallows

OFO will be tracking the situation and will provide updates as they become available.

Minister’s Zoning Orders Circumvent Land Use Planning and Protection

OFO supports Ontario Nature’s campaign to stop the Ontario Government from using Minister’s Zoning Orders to override due process in land use planning. This loophole makes it even harder to protect our remaining greenspace and bird habitats.

As birders, we know that habitat for many birds is shrinking and the value of natural spaces is incalculable.

Thank you, Ontario Nature, for bringing this serious issue to light.


Other Issues

We are also following other ongoing conservation issues, including the destruction of osprey nests while under construction and the need for protection of grassland bird species.

Upcoming Events

Sunday, June 21st, 1:00-3:00: OFO Workshop: Bird Songs and Calls with Ian Shanahan

“Look for birds with your ears” is a useful guiding principle; during the breeding season, it is sometimes the only option. Join this workshop led by Ian Shanahan to apply time-tested listening techniques applicable to a broad range of habitats.

To register, go to: https://ofo25.wildapricot.org/event-3687010

Tuesday, June 23rd, 7:00pm: Interview with David Sibley: What It’s Like to be a Bird

Please join Justin Peter, President of the Toronto Ornithological Club as he interviews, David Sibley whose most recent book is “What It’s Like to be a Bird”.

To register go to: http://torontobirdcelebration.ca/event/david-allen-sibley-talks-about-whats-its-like-to-be-a-bird/

May 28th – 30th – OFO Sault Ste. Marie Birding Festival – Save the Date!

We are thrilled to announce a new birding festival! Please join OFO and the Sault birding community to experience Spring migration in the heart of the Algoma District in 2021!

Good Birding,

Lynne Freeman

OFO President

OFO Call Notes is brought to you by OFO – Ontario Field Ornithologists, the provincial birding organization dedicated to the study of bird life in Ontario. We organize over 60 field trips and workshops annually, publish OFO News and Ontario Birds three times a year respectively, host an annual birding convention and manage ONTBirds, the rare bird email service. OFO is for everyone interested in birds and birding!

Find us at ofo.ca or visit the OFO Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/OntarioFieldOrnithologists.

Sauble’s piping plovers need you now!

Piping Plovers are one of the rarest and most imperilled breeding birds in Ontario. Absent for many years from our Great Lakes shorelines, they reappeared in 2007 and nested at Sauble Beach. Every year since they have returned to this location, gradually reoccupying other Ontario Great Lakes beaches as well.

Despite their comeback, the plovers are now threatened by plans to damage and destroy their habitat at Sauble Beach. Found guilty last year of intentionally destroying piping plover habitat in 2017, the Town of South Bruce Peninsula has applied for two permits under the Endangered Species Act 2007 to engage in destructive beach grooming activities again – but this time they’re seeking government approval first.

In a cynical attempt to get around the court’s conviction, the Town is asking for permission to remove large natural materials and mechanically rake the beach, commencing before the July 1st holiday and then again before long weekends and other special events. The raking will flatten hummocks, and remove the natural vegetation, debris and woody materials that the plovers rely on to find food, shelter from storms and cover from predators.

The timing couldn’t be worse as it coincides with the nesting and fledging periods when piping plovers are most vulnerable. The raking may also reduce habitat suitability and availability for years to come. As noted by one expert government biologist, this sort of activity can modify beach and dune dynamics, with long-term impacts on food sources for the plovers, and potentially detrimental effects on the survival and recovery of the species.

Please join Ontario Nature in urging the Government of Ontario NOT to grant the Town permission to damage and destroy critical piping plover habitat at Sauble Beach. For further details, please read our full submission to the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Honourable Jeff Yurek

The deadline for comment is June 25th.

Covid 19 Updates

Hello fellow Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists We hope you are all keeping safe and well in these unusual times.

This is to inform you that the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists are cancelling their general meeting scheduled to be held at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre in Midland on Thursday May 21st 2020. The state of emergency in Ontario has been extended, organized gatherings of more than 5 people are still banned in the province and our venue the Wye Marsh, as a Federal Nature Reserve, is now closed by order of Environment Canada until further notice.
The latest news is that there has been some success in flattening the curve of Covid 19 in Ontario and some things are reopening with appropriate control measures. However at this time it looks unlikely that we will be holding our season ending potluck and AGM at Tiny Marsh on June 18, 2020. Hopefully we can get back to some sort of normal programming in September but we will keep you advised.
Please visit our website https://mpfn.xyz for more news about the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists.

There have been many positive changes in the MTM organization, including a new website
and several new board members. But unfortunately the Tiny Marsh Bioblitz scheduled for Sat. June 20, 2020 has been cancelled.
You can purchase an MTM membership using Paypal on the MTM website.

The latest news is that the province will be opening provincial parks and conservation areas next week, some on Monday and some on Friday. Day use only, no facilities, washrooms, etc. open. Free until the end of the month. I’m not sure how this will affect Ste. Marie Park which is administered by Huronia Historical Parks, a provincial organization. The Georgian Bay Islands office is federal but I’m pretty sure the park itself is provincial. The land is owned by the Martyr’s Shrine but the Jesuits gave over the maintenance of the property to HHP several years ago.

Ken MacDonald

Wye Marsh is excited to announce that they will be re-opening the trail system in a limited capacity at 9:00 am on June 1, 2020 … But Needs Our Help During Difficult Times!

Wye Marsh staff have been working with Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) on a plan to safely reopen, which will be done in phases. During the first phase, from June 1 – 14, admission will be by donation in the parking lot as we build an outdoor admissions booth. Once the booth is constructed, reduced admission rates will apply until we are back up and running 100%. Access to washrooms will be available via the back doors, but otherwise the Centre remains closed to the public. There is no access to the Birds of Prey Field during this time. Canoe tours and other programming will remain suspended at this time.
While on the trails, please keep the following in mind:
Be mindful of wildlife who have become accustomed to the trails and boardwalks being unused by humans. Please give them space and do not attempt to approach or feed them, especially on the boardwalk.
Please respect social distancing guidelines while on the trails, especially at intersections and narrow sections.
The gates will open daily at 9:00am and close at 4:00pm
For up to date information on Wye Marsh’s phased reopening, please click here.

Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support.

Ontario Nature Defends Conservation Authorities

Ontario Nature, on behalf of itself & its affiliates has sent this letter to the Ontario Government defending the role of local conservation authorities in opposition to proposals made by the Ford administration. Read the letter. 

The Cleanest Water on Earth Remains Threatened by the Ontario Government’s Economic Expansion Policies
Please take a moment to watch the following short video. If you find it as moving as I did please consider emailing our local MPP, Jill Dunlop and voice your strenuous opposition to this ill-considered assault on the cleanest water on the planet. Email Jill at:  jill.dunlopco@pc.ola.org
Robert Codd
MPFN Website coordinator
MPFN member and President of the Matchedash Tiny Marl Conservation Association Kate Harries wants to share this excellent video from the Elmvale Foundation.  It tells you all about the unique water in our area that so many of us have fought hard to protect.  Here’s the link: 
And here’s a link to a Canadian Geographic article about the same issue. 
During this time of pandemic a lot of other issues seem to have been pushed into the background but the fight against new quarries and quarry expansion continues. 
For more information, copy and paste the link below into your browser: