Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Preserve the Fonthill Kame

If you’re anything like me, you drive up and down it a couple of times each day.

Or, you admire its soil as you plant trees in your backyard. Or, you farm on it and sell your special crops at the road or the Pelham Farmer’s Market. Or, you admire the spectacular view from it as you plan a round of golf.

What am I talking about, you ask? The Fonthill Kame-Delta, of course.

The what?

The Fonthill Kame-Delta is our rare, 75-metre-tall landmark that that was formed by retreating glaciers 13,000 years ago. It’s 6 km long and 3 km wide – nearly 1000 hectares – and boasts the highest point in the Niagara Region and the headwaters of the Twelve Mile Creek.

Microclimatic conditions create an ideal atmosphere for tender fruit production on the Kame including peaches, sweet and sour cherries, apples and pears.

The Fonthill Kame was originally identified in 1980 as a provincially significant area and became an “Area of Natural and Scientific Interest” (ANSI) in 1983. This ANSI designation restricts development for reasons of heritage, science or education.

In May 2009, however, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources recommended new boundary changes to the ANSI area. (Please click here for a copy of the notification from the MNR to the Town.)

While a new area to the south side of the Kame would be added to the ANSI, other changes would significantly reduce the protected area. In fact, only small portions of the main components of the Kame-Delta complex would be included and the landform as a whole would no longer be protected.

The area that the MNR proposes to remove from the ANSI encompasses much of what is called the Upper Terrace. The Upper Terrace to be removed stretches from across from EL Crossley High School, past Effingham, to Lookout Street and lies between Tice Road and Highway 20. This area is the most vulnerable to development pressure – especially in the form of aggregate extraction! (Click here for a copy of the map to see how the MNR is proposing to shrink the ANSI. Note: the Red outline is current ANSI boundaries; yellow-hatched is proposed.)

That’s why Niagara Regional Council recently recommended that the ANSI be maintained. (Click here to see the letter that Regional Council endorsed.)

And, based on the Region's position, the Niagara Escarpment Commission also came out against the changes. (Click here to see the letter that the NEC sent in July changing their position.)

That is also why I led a delegation that included Regional Chair Peter Partington and Town Councillors Dave Emmons and Jim Lane to meet with Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield this week to request that the Ministry not reduce the ANSI. I also met with our MPP, Tim Hudak, about the matter. (Click here for a copy of the powerpoint presentation to the Minister.)

If you would like to support our efforts and pressure the Minister, please contact me at Town Hall or via email at for more information.

August 24, 2009:
The majority of Pelham Council voted to defer a decision to "support and endorse" the Region's position, pending a letter from Minister Cansfield. On a recorded vote, it was Mayor Dave and Councillor Jim Lane against the deferral; Councillors Cook, Durley, Emmons, Papp, and Urbanowicz voted for the deferral.

Sept. 15, 2009:
The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority has sent a letter to the MNR against their proposed changes to the Fonthill-Kame. (Please click here for a copy of their letter.)

Oct. 19, 2009:
The Minister of Natural Resources replied to Mayor Dave's Presentation at the August Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference. (Please click here for a copy of her letter.)

Nov. 2, 2009:
The August 24 deferred resolution to "support and endorse" Regional position came back to Town Council. On a recorded vote, Council voted to ask the Ministry of Natural Resources NOT to change the existing ANSI boundaries. Those in favour of the motion were Mayor Dave and Councillors Emmons, Lane, and Urbanowicz. Those against the motion were Councillors Cook, Durley, and Papp.