Hold the champagne. The Tory plan announced last week to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine isn't as eco-friendly as first thought. Here's a closer look.
What the Tories say the plan will do
Protect water courses and natural features in perpetuity; and Ensure the moraine is maintained as a continuous natural landform.
what the plan permits
Provincial highways and municipal roads
Transit lines and facilities
Gas and oil pipelines
Power transmission lines
Bridges, interchanges, stations and other structures
Commercial and industrial development on lands designated as countryside
What has critics freaked
That double the current number of gravel-pit operations will be allowed, including inside wildlife corridors;
That some 360 development applications are still under consideration, many for subdivisions;
That the land the government gave to developers in Seaton in exchange for their moraine holdings is even more environmentally sensitive; and
That developers are not up in arms.
The big loophole
The minister can amend or revoke parts of the plan or the plan in its entirety without going to cabinet or holding public hearings; and The plan automatically comes up for review in 10 years.
The big unknown
What the federal government will do with the 20,000 acres it holds on the moraine.
Extension of Highway 407 and the proposed building of another super-highway further north will put pressure on the moraine for residential development in the near future.
What ecologists say
Glenn DeBaeremaeker, Save the Rouge Valley System:
"There'll be impacts. Nothing's perfect. The 10-year review worries me. We can be in this fight again. But the reality is that this is a massive win for environmentalists."
Josh Matlow, Earthroots:
"When all is said and done, maybe 50 per cent of the moraine will be saved, and maybe not even that much."
Jim Robb, Friends of the Rouge Watershed:
"We do have some pretty serious concerns about the lands being swapped with developers in Seaton. These lands are actually more sensitive than the moraine. We'd like to see them linked to the moraine and the watershed system all the way down to Lake Ontario."newsinsight Oak Ridges migraine