• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

No MZO for Freele Tract! Simcoe Forest deserves due process

In Council Watch
Jun 12th, 2020

From the Wilderness Committee

A 200-acre stand of forest known as the Freele Tract in Springwater is at risk of destruction by a large waste management facility. The site is part of the Simcoe forest, the largest municipally-owned forest in Canada, and home to at-risk species like the eastern wood pewee, wood thrush and red-shouldered hawk.

The forest has an official “natural heritage system” designation, meaning it should be protected from just such developments. However, upon request from the county, Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing granted an exemption for the facility. A local citizen group, Friends of Simcoe Forest, have filed an appeal arguing the waste management facility should be moved to industrial land. Now the county is asking the province to once again undermine its own rules and terminate the group’s appeal, overriding local democracy to ram through this project.

Write today to tell the province to reject Simcoe County’s undue request. Your letter will go to Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, MPPs for Simcoe County and Katie Krelove our Ontario Campaigner.


Simcoe County’s request for a minister’s zoning order to fast track development of a major waste processing facility in the Freele tract of the Simcoe County Forest should not be granted. The county’s proposal to build over this part of the designated natural heritage system is wrong and the province should respect its own rules that allow for citizen input on this development.

The Friends of Simcoe Forests (FSF), a non-profit group, has appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) to overturn the growth plan amendment, which allows the development despite its location in a natural heritage system.

Issuing a minister’s zoning order would unfairly quash the LPAT proceeding. FSF has expended time, resources, and money to prepare for the appeal hearing including retaining experts in the fields of ecology and planning.

The zoning order would undermine the democratic process and leave the legal and technical issues with the development unresolved. This would fundamentally undermine public confidence in Ontario’s planning regime. Do the right thing and reject this request to push through development without due process.

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