UPDATE
Friends of Simcoe Forests Inc. v. Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

MAY 27, 2021

Read more here: https://www.ontariocourts.ca/search-canlii/scj/newdecisions-en.php?link=https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onscdc/doc/2021/2021onsc3813/2021onsc3813.html

MEDIA RELEASE

URGENT MATTER - OPA5 / HEARING UPDATE

MONDAY APRIL 26, 2021 – COUNTY OF SIMCOE

On Monday April 26th CELA (Canadian Environmental Law Association) was in Divisional Court arguing against the law passed by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing exempting the Freele Forest (proposed site for the Environmental Resource Recovery Centre) from the natural heritage protections afforded by the Growth Plan. 

 

There were two days set aside for the hearing but it was wrapped up in one full, informative day. The Friends of Simcoe Forests are extremely proud of CELA for the top notch legal representation, as always. The outcome of this case is important to our upcoming LPAT hearing regarding the ERRC. It will also set an important precedent with respect to the scope of the Minister’s powers to enact a transitional regulation.

We are pleased with how the proceedings went and are hopeful for a positive outcome. It is expected that a decision on this hearing will take a couple of months. We will certainly keep you posted.

Now, we have a very urgent matter still pending that requires your attention... OPA5.  

https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-3292

OPA5 would basically allow the County of Simcoe to establish waste sites such as the Environmental Resource Recovery Centre (which do not involve landfilling) without public notice and without the right to appeal.

This is an enormous power that stands to be taken away from the public and handed to the governing authorities in the County of Simcoe. 

PLEASE take a moment now to write to the Minister opposing OPA5. If you have already done so, we thank you for taking action.  

Public comments/concerns must be submitted to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing by May 1, 2021.

Mr. Trevor Empey

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Municipal Services Office- Central Ontario

13th floor, 777 Bay Street,

Toronto, Ontario M7A 2J3

Email: Trevor.Empey@ontario.ca

Attached is a sample letter which can be modified or expanded as you see fit.

MEDIA RELEASE

FRIENDS OF SIMCOE FORESTS FILES COURT CHALLENGE OVER WASTE FACILITY IN FREELE COUNTY FOREST

 

OCTOBER 19, 2020 – COUNTY OF SIMCOE

Today opponents of the County of Simcoe’s proposal to build a waste facility in the Freele County Forest filed a legal challenge in their fight against the County’s plan. The Friends of Simcoe Forests Inc. filed a Notice of Application for Judicial Review with Divisional Court challenging the decision by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) to delete issues related to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe from FSF’s Issues List. The Issues List defines the issues on which FSF will be allowed to call evidence at the hearing.

 LPAT’s decision was made in response to a joint motion by the County of Simcoe and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Minister) to strike issues related to the Growth Plan from FSF’s Issues List. The applicability of the Growth Plan to the County’s proposal to build a waste facility in the Freele County Forest is central to FSF’s case. FSF asserts that by striking out issues related to the Growth Plan from FSF’s Issues List, LPAT erroneously relied on a transitional regulation which was enacted by the Minister.

The Minister’s powers to enact a transitional regulation is set out in subsection 19 (1) d of the Places to Grow Act (PGA). In order to enact a regulation under that subsection the Minister must meet two statutory requirements: (i) the regulation must address a  “transitional matter”; and (ii) it must facilitate the implementation of the  PGA , a provision of the PGA or a growth plan.  It is FSF’s position that neither criteria were met in this case. FSF is seeking among other things, a declaration from the Court that the enactment of the transitional regulation, insofar as it applies to FSF’s case, was an “improper exercise of statutory power by the Minister.”

“We believe that the transitional regulation was intended to circumvent the normal planning rules from applying to our case,” said Mary Wagner, the President of FSF. “It is a targeted regulation that has eviscerated our core grounds of appeal.”

Mary Wagner, President, Friends of Simcoe Forests Inc. (Contact: Mary- 705-716-6564 or email: info@friendsofsimcoeforests.com)

 

 

Friends of Simcoe Forests Pleased with Minister Clark’s decision not to issue an MZO for County’s waste project.

 

SEPTEMBER 4, 2020 - SPRINGWATER TOWNSHIP

 

The County of Simcoe asked the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing by a letter dated April 17, 2020, that a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) be issued for the County’s Environmental Resource Recovery (ERRC) project. The letter cited delays at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, costs incurred to date and the risk of losing over $2 million in provincial funding as some of the reasons for its request. The Friends of Simcoe Forests (FSF) is a local non-profit organization that seeks to protect and conserve forests in Simcoe County. FSF is one of three appellants of this project and has expended significant time, resources, and money through tireless fundraising efforts to prepare for the LPAT hearing process which is currently underway. The issuance of an MZO would have terminated the LPAT proceeding and would have left the legal, planning, and technical issues with the ERRC unresolved. While in Oro Medonte Township with Premier Doug Ford on August 20, 2020, Minister Clark made the following statement referring to the issuance of MZO’s. “No projects currently going through the Local Planning and Appeals Tribunal process are being considered,” pointing to the County’s ERRC project as an example. FSF is very pleased with Minister Clark’s decision not to intervene with the LPAT hearing process underway on this project. FSF is not opposed to the ERRC project as a whole; rather the group has consistently stated that it opposes the County’s decision to locate the ERRC in the middle of a Simcoe County Forest.

Friends of Simcoe Forests Outraged as–County of Simcoe uses COVID-19 in effort to avoid LPAT hearing over the proposed waste processing complex in the Freele County Forest

SPRINGWATER TOWNSHIP, APRIL 29, 2020 – The County of Simcoe is using the COVID-19 pandemic to ram through approval of the Environmental Resource Recover Centre (ERRC), a large waste processing complex in the Freele County Forest. Last year, the Friends of Simcoe Forests Inc., a local citizens’ group, appealed the decision to establish the ERRC in the Freele County Forest to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).

 

On April 17, 2020, the County of Simcoe sent a request to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) asking the Minister to issue a Minister’s Zoning Order to the ERRC.

 

The issuance of a Minister’s Zoning Order would terminate the LPAT proceeding and would leave the legal, planning, and technical issues with the ERRC unresolved.  FSF is unaware of any instance where a Minister's Zoning Order has been issued for a project while a matter was before the LPAT.

“We are outraged,” said Mary Wagner, President of the FSF. “We have participated in the local and provincial planning process in good faith for 4 years. Local residents have spent time, money and resources to prepare for the case.  The County is now attempting to circumvent the LPAT hearing and citing the pandemic as a reason for trampling on citizens’ rights to engage in the democratic process.”

 

FSF has long been opposed to the site chosen by the County of Simcoe to place a major waste management and processing complex within the Freele County Forest.

 

“This proposal is fundamentally at odds with the Ontario’s environmental and planning laws,” Mary Wagner added. “We want to have the County take care of its waste – but not here, this is not an industrial site, it’s the wrong place for this facility.”

 

FSF and two local businesses have appealed the matter to LPAT.

 

“The issuance of a Minister’s Zoning Order would be extremely unfair at this late stage and would fundamentally undermine public trust and confidence in Ontario’s planning regime,” said Cindy Mercer, a local resident and member of FSF.

The County’s move comes after a controversial decision by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in September 2019 to introduce modifications to Ontario Regulation 311/06 (Transitional Matters – Growth Plans) to exempt the proposed site from the natural heritage policies under the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. FSF has challenged the legality of the regulation to LPAT.

The closed Environmental Registry posting is found here:

https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-0018

 

FSF is a local non-profit organization that seeks to protect and conserve forests in Simcoe County. FSF has expended significant time, resources, and money through tireless fundraising efforts to prepare for the LPAT hearing process which is currently underway.

FSF’s expert consultants have raised serious concerns about the adequacy of the County’s technical studies in relation to the Significant Woodland and four types of Significant Wildlife Habitat found on the proposed site.

“We continue to be subject to unfair measures by the government authorities to prevent us from raising legitimate arguments in this case,” said Cindy Mercer. “Ontarians should be entitled to an opportunity to engage in the LPAT hearing process without political interference. “

FSF is calling on the public to write Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark urging him not to issue a Minister’s Zoning Order to the ERRC.

https://www.friendsofsimcoeforests.com/download

 

Please contact:

Mary Wagner {705-716-6564)

or through FSF at info@friendsofsimcoeforests.com

Friends of Simcoe Forests submit appeal to LPAT on Ministry’s decision for proposed ERRC in Simcoe County Forest

SPRINGWATER TOWNSHIP, JANUARY 23, 2019 – The Friends of Simcoe Forest Inc. is appealing the Ministry’s decision to approve Amendment 2 to the County of Simcoe Official Plan. The purpose of the County Official Plan Amendment No. 2 is to facilitate the development of a waste management facility referred to as the Environmental Resource Recovery Centre in the Township of Springwater (2976 Horseshoe Valley Road West).


The County is proposing to remove at least 5 ha (12.35 acres) of woodland within the Township of Springwater to accommodate the construction of an Environmental Resource Recovery Centre.  This woodland is within the Growth Plan Natural Heritage System (NHS) and is designated as Greenlands in the County Official Plan (OP).  The removal of at least 5 ha (12.35 acres) of woodland will result in negative impacts to at least two Key Natural Heritage Features within the Growth Plan NHS (significant woodland and significant wildlife habitat).

 

It is the Friends of Simcoe Forests position that the decision is not consistent with the policies of the Provincial Policy Statement, Growth Plan and County of Simcoe Official Plan related to development and site alteration within Natural Heritage Systems, Key Natural Heritage Features and Greenlands.

 

 

About Friends of Simcoe Forests

 

 

FSF is a not-for-profit incorporated organization whose goal is to inform and unite all people interested in conservation of Simcoe County Forest.  

 

It is our goal to promote the protection and appreciation of the environment and lands which are there for all of us and future generations to use and enjoy.

County planning a similar waste management facility for Freele

Forest, with no publicly available fire response plan ready

SPRINGWATER TOWNSHIP, MAY 25 - A massive blaze at a recycling plant on Toronto’s

waterfront should be a wake-up call to County Councillors still considering an

Environmental Resource Recovery Centre (ERRC) for a Simcoe County forest....Read more....

 

 

County’s Own Numbers Show ERRC Will Exceed Noise Limits

 

The Noise Assessment conducted for Simcoe County appears to have used the wrong numbers from their own Traffic Impact Study to calculate noise produced by the ERRC, according to a review by the Friends of Simcoe Forests. With actual truck traffic estimated at well over the counts used in the Noise Assessment, it is unlikely.....Read more....

Only Most Expensive ERRC Option Passes Smell Test

  

All Simcoe County taxpayers will pay through the nose to place waste management facility where it does not belong

 

Friends of Simcoe Forests is calling on Simcoe County Council to reconsider placing its proposed Environmental Resource Recovery Facility (ERRC) in the middle of Freele Forest because it will be too expensive to mitigate the excessive odours produced by this waste management facility.

The Facility Characteristics Report prepared for Simcoe County includes a preliminary Odour Assessment to determine if it is likely this facility will meet provincial environmental requirements.....Read more....

 

 

Forest No Place for Fire Hazard

Simcoe County’s plan to place an Environmental Resource Recovery Centre in a forest within Springwater Township raises serious safety concerns, according to The Friends of Simcoe Forests. The recently announced relocation of the centre places residents even closer to this “high hazard” building.

 

An Environmental Resource Recovery Centre is considered a Group F, Division 1 High Hazard Industrial Occupancy building. It is “an industrial occupancy containing sufficient quantities of highly combustible and flammable or explosive materials to constitute a special fire hazard because of their inherent characteristics”. This is the highest level of hazard indicated in the Ontario Building Code Act.

 

“The Friends have concerns that the County’s protective services are not sufficiently.....Read more....

Trees, not Trucks: Fighting to Protect Simcoe County Forests From Industrialization

 

SPRINGWATER, AUGUST 10, 2016 - Friends of Simcoe County Forests is calling on Simcoe County to stand behind their twenty-year vision for the municipal forests and stop their plan to permanently destroy the Freele Tract. No where in Council's twenty-year forestry management plan 'Simcoe County Forests 2011-2030' is there discussion of taking a tract of County Forest for the purposes of creating waste management infrastructure or to

destroy any section of forest for any other industrial or infrastructure purpose.  Simcoe County Forests has a proud history....Read more ON PAGE 4 ....

Friends of Simcoe Forests Gears Up Fight Against Organics Dump on Horseshoe Valley Road

 

Newly Incorporated Community Group Prepares to Battle with Simcoe County Council.

SPRINGWATER, ON, AUGUST 04 - The Friends of Simcoe Forests are organizing an aggressive campaign to push back against Simcoe County Council’s plan to develop the Freele Tract of the Simcoe County Forests into waste management infrastructure.

Last month, Simcoe Council approved the development of an Organics Processing Facility and Materials Management Facility within the Freele Tract, using a flawed site selection process that favoured turning forestry lands over for industrial use.

Council has a plan and timeline to seek planning approval to move forward with....Read more....