On The Greater Golden Horseshoe, where I live. I confess this is my “soapbox”.
I live on the Niagara Escarpment on the Protected area of the Escarpment, meaning that ecologically and environmentally, it is among the more important areas of the Escarpment to be preserved under the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) and local municipalities, in what is now called, the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The Ontario Provincial Government in 2006, published a glossy and inviting brochure encouraging families and individuals to move north, west and east of Toronto in an effort to expand the population growth into what they called the Greater Golden Horseshoe. I read the brochure with considerable interest, living here as we do, and found it to be a wonderful piece of promotional advertising in which those involved had little idea of the reality of living within the Greater Golden Horseshoe. And thus, after reading the Honorable David Crombie’s huge report on the expansion of the Greater Golden Horseshoe area
I wrote an open letter to Mr. Crombie, of which I am one hundred percent certain that the Honourable David Crombie has never laid eyes on. It was eventually published by the Orangeville Citizen for which I extend my appreciation (warning: it’s long) in the hope of creating some awareness for those who may follow the Ontario Provincial Government’s enthusiastic brochure on the Greater Golden Horseshoe:
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE HONOURABLE DAVID CROMBIE, CHAIR, ADVISORY COMMITTEE & THE HONOURABLE BILL MAURO, MINISTER MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO re THE GREATER GOLDEN HORSESHOE
In June, 2006, the Ontario Provincial Government put out a glossy publication which landed in my rural country mail box. It was about The Greater Golden Horseshoe, an interesting name, which apparently encompassed my area up here on the Niagara Escarpment just outside of the town of Orangeville and others as well, beyond what is now the Greater Toronto Area. This folder extolled the beauty of these areas, encouraging people to consider moving beyond the GTA, emphasizing that moving to these new areas would be a safe place to live and in which to raise children.
In that same year, on November 5th at approximately 2:45 pm, in the Simcoe County Forest, our friend, Marianne Schmid went for her daily walk. She was shot and killed by a deer hunter, who ‘heard a noise’ after seeing a buck he wanted to take down. “It was a hunting accident” the police said. That year, hunting season had been put forward one week, something that Marianne and no doubt many others, were unaware of at the time.
What city people don’t realize and what the Provincial Government may not realize is that deer hunting is allowed in most of, if not all of Dufferin County where I live. Certainly, it is not controlled here in Mono which I discovered when I moved here twenty-eight years ago. While the Provincial Government may be encouraging people to move north, west and east into the Greater Golden Horseshoe, what they do not or may not realize is that as these places were mainly rural, the bylaws of these municipalities remain mainly rural as well to this day, 2016. Following Marianne’s death I asked to speak before Mono Council. Although many hunters are respectful of No Tresspassing or No Hunting signs, some are not. I asked if there was some way of controlling the areas in which deer hunting was allowed, suggesting that perhaps by contacting our local Dufferin Northern Peel Anglers’ & Hunters’ Association, who run very thorough training courses for people wishing to take out hunting licences, asking if they might consider taking over the job of securing permission from landowners of certain large tracts of land here in Mono for people to legally hunt deer on their lands. These areas could then be secured by signage warning residents that hunting was going on within these properties. Mono Council disregarded this suggestion and so today, when I hear the first gunshot of hunting season, I do not walk out on my ten acres of land and I keep our dogs close to home, nor do I walk the country roads during this time.
I know from personal experience that there are hunters who do respect landowners wishes and who do not hunt where they are not welcome but city dwellers have no idea, when they move into areas such as mine, that there are no protective bylaws limiting where people can hunt deer and shoot off shotguns.
The Greater Golden Horseshoe is indeed becoming more residential, people are moving up from the city and the GTA and it is important for the Provincial Government to realize that the local municipality bylaws are not keeping up with this growth. The GGH is not an entirely safe place in which to live and raise children contrary to the Government’s publicity folder promoting these areas. And, there are other concerns as well. The increased growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the areas surrounding the GTA is now adding increased costs to the infrastructure of these areas which were formerally small Ontario towns and farmland surrounding these towns. New housing developments are springing up, traffic congestion each morning and evening on Hwy. 10 and Airport Road is now evidence that this area is a commuter area to the city and the GTA. How much of this impact is the Provincial Government going to assume financially and locally and how much awareness does the Provincial Government have of the local municipal bylaws which do not protect citizens from a lack of hunting bylaws and which are lacking bylaws in other ways as well. When city people move into what was formerly a small town or the country in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, along with these moves comes certain expectations as well.
When my late in-laws, Maude and Ed Small, moved from their farm in Mono to Toronto in the 1920’s, Dufferin County was largely farmland. The bylaws which have been in place for many years reflected this. However, we are living in a time of growth and change, these bylaws are becoming less effective in coping with this present growth and do not always address residents needs. Mono Council has announced recently that it will schedule a town hall meeting sometime this coming fall as part of a move to increase ‘citizen engagement’ in Mono and I’m sure it will be well attended for there are a number of concerns that have come with this growth of population in our area.
Home ownership today is no longer a right afforded to many; it is a privilege, one that involves a considerable outlay of money and financial commitment on the part of the homeowner. However, when this investment becomes devalued by the condition of a neighbouring property and there are no bylaws in place to protect resident’s investments, where do we go with our complaints? Certainly without bylaws in place to control the mess that we sometimes find ourselves living next to, the bylaw officer is rendered useless. If people are being encouraged to move into the Greater Golden Horseshoe, they will have certain expectations of how and where they will live. The present Property Standards Bylaws in Mono at this present time are loosely formulated as to not allow the financial protection of how neighbouring properties are kept.
The Ontario Government’s Greater Golden Horseshoe plan is: “to curb urban sprawl, grow the greenbelt, support agriculture and address traffic congestion. Therefore it is important to focus on building complete communities, supporting agriculture, protecting natural and cultural heritage, providing infrastructure, mainstreaming climate change and implementing the plans for the Greater Golden Horseshoe area (GGH)”.
Idealistic expectations from a government which may or may not follow through on their mandate to support growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Submitted by: Sandra Small Proudfoot, Mono, Ontario.
As is the case with many things in life, until something affects us personally, I’ve tended to overlook issues that don’t impact on me directly. If change and growth is to occur in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, it involves not only the Ontario Provincial Government but also, local municipal governments and the residents themselves, of which I am one, in this growth. Given the current bylaws of Mono and many of the rural municipalities which are somewhat limited in terms of Property Standards it could mean that you may experience a loss of financial investment in your property given what you live next door to in the country. Not everyone has the same concept of how to use and look after their property as you may do. Some people move up to the country from the city and because they have more land than they ever had in the city, they feel that they can do as they wish with their land. Unless local municipalilties have enough Property Standard Bylaws in place, Bylaw officers are rendered useless. That we’ve been able to maintain this wonderfully rural residential area of ours here is in great part due to Mr. John Creelman, our former Reeve and his council at the time Mr. Creelman, turned Mono from a township into a town thereby eliminating the ability of the town of Orangeville from encroaching upon our lands
Many rural municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshow do not have enough Property ByLaw Standards which can stop your own property from being devalued because of how a neighbouring property is used and kept. Moving to the country isn’t always as easy as it sounds, especially if you’re moving up from the city where you’re used to municipalities with more effective Property bylaw Standards.