Sunday, June 23, 2013

Getting Closer to Protecting the Fonthill Kame

Last week both Pelham and Regional Councils approved a staff report about the Ministry of Natural Resources’ (MNR) “last iteration” of the review of the Fonthill Kame-Delta Area of Natural & Scientific Interest (ANSI).

The “Fonthill Kame-Delta” 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.

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 1976 and as a Provincial ANSI in 1988. This ANSI designation restricts development for reasons of heritage, science or education.

In May 2009, the MNR recommended significantly reducing the ANSI’s coverage to “representative samples.” Pelham Council, Niagara Regional Council, Niagara Escarpment Commission, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, scientific experts, dozens of Pelham residents, Tim Hudak, our MPP, and Minister Jim Bradley, St. Catharines MPP, voiced opposition to these changes.

As a result, in early 2010, Pelham received a strong commitment from Donna Cansfield, MPP, Minister of Natural Resources:  “Please let me assure you that it is our intention to maintain and, where feasible, enhance the current ANSI boundary.”

Despite that assurance, in 2011, the Ministry proposed reducing the ANSI to “Swiss-cheese” by failing to protect huge portions of the Kame – especially those areas that are under direct threat of new or expanded development. Again we expressed our significant concerns to the Minister.

Last week, Ian Thornton from MNR informed Council about the 2013 proposed improvements to the ANSI boundaries. Mr. Thornton outlined how the MNR plans to expand the Fonthill Kame-Delta ANSI from 376 hectares to 412 hectares.

Both Pelham and Regional Councils acknowledged these 2013 boundary improvements but advised the MNR that we maintain our position that the Kame’s total morphology should be designated as ANSI. We asked the MNR to provide a rationale for not including all of the Kame under ANSI protection.

Since this appears to be the final review of the Fonthill Kame ANSI, I ask you to write to the current Minister, the Honorable David Orazietti, thanking him for expanding the ANSI and asking him to continue to honour the commitment to “…maintain and, where feasible, enhance the current ANSI boundary.”

Hon. David Orazietti, MPP
Minister of Natural Resources
Whitney Block, 6th Floor, Room 6630
99 Wellesley St. West
Toronto ON   M7A1W3

Please click directly for copies of the MNR presentation, the detailed notification reports, and the endorsed staff report.