Monday, August 27, 2012

Please Help Save the Fonthill Kame

"It's on the Minister's desk for his decision," responded a Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) official when asked by Mike Cole, MPP and MNR Parliamentary Assistant, about the status of the review of the Fonthill Kame ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific Interest). The discussion took place during an August 20 meeting between Pelham representatives -- Councillors Durley and Papp, CAO Darren Ottaway, and myself -- and MNR senior policy reps during the recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference in Ottawa.  (Please click here for a copy of Pelham's presentation to Mike Cole, MPP.)

The "Fonthill Kame" is our rare, 75-metre-tall landmark that was formed by retreating glaciers 13,000 years ago. At 6 km long, 3 km wide, and nearly 1,000 hectares, the Kame boasts the highest point in the Niagara Region and the headwaters of the Twelve Mile Creek.

The Kame's microclimatic and soil conditions create an ideal environment for tender fruit production including peaches, sweet and sour cherries, plums and pears.

In simple terms, the Kame is the "hill" in both Fonthill and Shorthills and the "ridge" in Ridgeville.

The MNR identified the Fonthill Kame as provincially significant in 1980 and as an "Area of Natural and Scientific Interest" (ANSI) in 1983. This ANSI designation restricts development for reasons of heritage, science or education. (Please click here for a copy of a map of the Fonthill-Kame and the ANSI.)

In May 2009, the MNR recommended making changes to the ANSI, significantly reducing its coverage to "representative samples."

The Town of Pelham Council, Niagara Regional Council, Niagara Escarpment Commission, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, scientific experts, more than a dozen Pelham residents, Tim Hudak, our MPP, and Minister Jim Bradley, St. Catharines MPP, voiced opposition to changing the ANSI.

As a result, in early 2010, Pelham received a letter from Donna Cansfield, MPP, Minister of Natural Resources, in which she stated "Please let me assure you that it is our intention to maintain and, where feasible, enhance the current ANSI boundary."  (Please click here for a copy of the letter from former Natural Resources Minister, Donna Cansfield, MPP.)

Despite that assurance, the Ministry proposed further refinements to the ANSI in 2011. Unfortunately, that proposition would have reduced the ANSI to "Swiss-cheese," failing to protect huge portions of the Kame -- especially those areas that are under direct threat of new or expanded gravel pits.

Since the final review of the Fonthill Kame ANSI is "…on the Minister’s desk" for an imminent decision, I ask you to write to the current Minister, the Honorable Michael Gravelle, asking him to honour the commitment to "…maintain and, where feasible, enhance the current ANSI boundary."

Hon. Michael Gravelle, MPP
Minister of Natural Resources
Whitney Block, 6th Floor, Room 6630
99 Wellesley St. West
Toronto ON M7A1W3
Phone: 416-314-2301

It is imperative that Minister Gravelle hear from you and others about the importance of the Fonthill Kame and that you request that the 30-years of ANSI protections remain. 

(For some points that you can incorporate into a letter to Minister Gravell in support for the ANSI boundaries, please click here.)