Monday, October 21, 2013

Final ANSI Boundary Protects Fonthill Kame!

I was jubilant when I received the letter and the map.

After nearly four-and-a-half years, the Ministry of Natural Resources recently issued the final ANSI (Area of Natural & Scientific Interest) boundaries for the Fonthill Kame-Delta. This final ANSI boundary includes most of the former area and increases the protection from 930 acres to 993 acres.

You will recall that the “Fonthill Kame-Delta” is our rare, 75-metre-tall landmark that was formed by retreating glaciers 13,000 years ago. The Kame boasts the highest point in Niagara and the headwaters of Twelve Mile Creek. It’s the “hill” in Fonthill and Shorthills and the “ridge” in Ridgeville. The Kame’s microclimatic and soil conditions create an ideal environment for tender fruit production.

MNR identified the Fonthill Kame as provincially significant in 1976 and as a Provincial ANSI in 1988. This designation restricts development for reasons of heritage, science or education.

In May 2009, 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, 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, MNR 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.

In June 2013, MNR informed Council about proposed improvements to the ANSI boundaries and the plans to expand the ANSI. Both Pelham and Regional Councils acknowledged these 2013 improvements but sought MNR’s rationale for not including the entire Kame.

In their letter, MNR clarified that the parts of the Kame not included in the new ANSI boundaries “…have been extensively disturbed or impacted by various land uses and development.” The two major areas now excluded are the Chestnut Ridge subdivision and the Lafarge Pit.

To better preserve the ANSI area, MNR suggests that the Town and Region incorporate the new ANSI boundaries in municipal planning policies and in all planning decisions moving forward.

I believe that these protections are great news for Pelham and the Region! I appreciate MNR living up to the goal of maintaining and enhancing the former ANSI boundary.

In the past I have asked you to write to the Minister to encourage ANSI protection; now, I invite you to write to Minister Orazetti and thank MNR for protecting the Fonthill Kame:

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

Please click here for a copy of the Ministry of Natural Resources letter and a map of the final boundaries.