Beeton Woods under attack again
Cutting at Beeton Woods in March 2015
By Kate Harries AWARE News Network
Monday, they started taking down more of the Beeton Woods.
Stephanie MacLellan, one of the Beeton residents who spearheaded an effort to save the woodland just northwest of her village, watched in horror.
“They’re not even cutting them, they’re bulldozing them,” she said yesterday after watching from the 9th Line, to the south of the forest. “I watched them take down nine 80-foot trees in four minutes.”
It was heartbreaking.
To be sure, Tecumseth Estates, owned by the Rizzardo family, has the law on its side. Simcoe County Council voted to reinstate a special permit that had been put on hold because of irregularities. AWARE Simcoe then attempted to intervene through the courts, without success.
Still, it was heartbreaking.
The forest had been home to endangered butternut trees, to a dazzling spring display of trilliums, to a community of creatures, from pileated woodpeckers to snapping turtles, that represented a vital heritage to the nearby village.
Now “we can see that the perimeter of the forest is different and some of the largest, most majestic trees, that had remained standing for the duration of this process are no longer there,” said Nicole Cox, a resident who started the Beeton Woods gofundme campaign.
New Tecumseth Councillor Richard Norcross was at the scene to talk to developer Nizio Rizzardo who, it appears, has maps showing that he will preserve a portion of the woodland. It’s not clear how much.
Meanwhile, today, Simcoe County Council met and, on a motion put forward by New Tecumseth Mayor Rick Milne, seconded by Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer, voted to defer pursuing costs from AWARE Simcoe for three months.
Milne told councillors he had met with the developer, with the AWARE group and with South Simcoe Streams, the group to which Simcoe County Council voted last month it would donate the $5,000 in costs it plans to collect.
He asked for time to allow negotiations to continue.
“We appreciate the leadership role played by Mayors Milne and Keffer in getting the costs deferred, and also the support shown by the majority of councillors,” AWARE Simcoe vice-chair Sandy Agnew said after the meeting. “We’re disappointed the cutting has started, but hopeful it will be less extensive than originally planned.”
In favour of the motion to defer costs were Warden and Penetanguishene Mayor Gerry Marshall, Deputy Warden and Essa Mayor Terry Dowdall, Springwater DM Don Allen, Severn Mayor Mike Burkett, Clearview DM Barry Burton, Tiny Mayor George Cornell, Severn DM Judith Cox, Oro-Medonte DM Ralph Hough, BWG Mayor Rob Keffer, BWG DM James Leduc, Essa DM Sandie Macdonald, Midland Mayor Gord McKay, New Tec Mayor Rick Milne, Ramara DM John O’Donnell, Tay DM Bill Rawson, Midland DM Mike Ross, Collingwood DM Brian Saunderson, Adjala-Tosorontio Mayor Mary Small-Brett, Wasaga Beach Mayor Brian Smith, New Tec DM Jamie Smith, Clearview Mayor Chris Vanderkruys, Tiny DM Steffen Walma, Tay Mayor Scott Warnock and Innisfil Mayor Gord Wauchope.
Against a 3-month deferral of costs to be collected from AWARE were Wasaga Beach DM Nina Bifolchi, Ramara Mayor Basil Clarke, Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper, Penetanguishene DM Anita Dubeau, Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes and Adjala-Tosorontio DM Doug Little.
Springwater Mayor Bill French declared a non-pecuniary conflict and Innisfil DM Lynn Dollin was absent.
Oro-Medonte’s Hughes (seconded by Wasaga’s Bifolchi) then put forward a motion to call upon AWARE Simcoe to provide public access to its meeting and membership information.
Hughes had put forward a similar motion at the last meeting of council and it had been voted down without debate. It’s not clear why the motion was allowed to proceed – normal rules would prevent the same motion being brought forward without new information.
This time, Ramara’s Basil Clarke merely pointed out that he could support calling on AWARE to reveal the names of its board of directors, but said he did not believe that an association should be required to give out their members’ names.
(AWARE Simcoe posts the names of its board of directors on its website.)
Voting in favour of the Hughes motion were Warden Gerry Marshall, Deputy Warden Terry Dowdall, Wasaga Beach DM Nina Bifolchi, Severn Mayor Mike Burkett, Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper, Penetanguishene DM Anita Dubeau and Adjala-Tos Mayor Mary Small-Brett.
All others voted against. Leduc and Dollin were absent, French declared a conflict.