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Simcoe-Grey candidates share ideas for protecting wetlands

We asked provincial candidates to weigh in on balancing environmental protections while making room for rapid growth
Clockwise from top left: Brian Saunderson for the PCs, Keith Nunn for the NDP, Ted Crysler for the Liberals, and Allan Kuhn for the Greens.

We asked the four main provincial candidates in Simcoe-Grey a series of six questions via email. The following responses were submitted by the candidates and/or their campaigns. The answers have not been checked for accuracy; they represent the candidates’ platforms and opinions. External links have been removed.

The Simcoe-Grey riding is located directly to the west of Barrie and includes Essa Township. 

Voting day is June 2 and advance voting is open until May 28.


Q: There are multiple developments proposing hundreds of residential and mixed-use units on waterfront and adjacent to or on wetland areas in Collingwood including several six-storey mixed-use buildings at Collingwood Harbour and several hundred homes in the Silver Creek area. What would you change (if anything) in the provincial policy statement to increase the protection for sensitive wetland areas while balancing the need for more housing to accommodate rapid growth in Collingwood?

Allan Kuhn, Green: The Greens would freeze urban boundaries. Update the Planning Act, the provincial policy statement and other applicable laws and regulations to expand zoning permissions. Promote gentle density by infill and zoning changes. There is no need to pave over and ruin the last remaining remnants of our intact watersheds and ecosystems. We would reinstate the provincial Brownfield Remediation fund to support municipalities to safely build affordable housing on previously industrial sites, through zoning changes such as abandoned plazas and warehouses where safe and appropriate. Update planning laws to prezone for missing middle and mid-rise housing on transit corridors and main streets. By using the land we already have, instead of sprawling into our ecosystems, the Greens would accommodate growth.

Brian Saunderson, PC: Under the current planning processes and the Conservation Authorities Act, the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) regulates development activities in natural and hazardous areas in the watershed. That means that, in addition to any local planning approvals, any development proposal on a wetland or flood plain in the Nottawasaga watershed requires NVCA approval.

From the municipal perspective, we know we are under-housed and facing increasing growth pressures in our community. We must recognize that we need to intensify in our settlement areas to accommodate growth pressures, protect our green spaces and maximize our municipal infrastructure and services. Simply put, we need densification not deforestation.

The Progressive Conservatives will work with local and regional governments and stakeholders to streamline the development processes and ensure that development is sustainable, responsible and responsive to local needs.

It is worth noting that shortly after the CSL Shipyards closed in 1986, the Collingwood Harbour was designated as an Area of Concern under the Canada-U.S. Water Quality Agreement. After extensive remediation efforts which included remediation of local wetlands and watersheds, the Collingwood Harbour was de-listed in 1994. The harbour and waterfront that we enjoy today is beautiful, clean and safe with an abundance of wildlife, boating and recreational uses. It is a natural jewel and multi-use facility for our community that must be protected.

Keith Nunn, NDP: The NDP’s detailed housing plan includes policies to rein in speculation and accelerate the construction of new homes that are affordable, while protecting farmland and the environment. Ontario’s forests, parks, farmlands, and wetlands are precious to Ontarians, and a vital habitat for plants and animals.

Doug Ford has made multiple attempts to pave over the Greenbelt. He cut the authority of Conservation Authorities, cancelled a program to plant 50 million trees in Ontario, and passed laws to override environmental protections and public input as favours to his developer buddies.

An Ontario NDP government will work with farmers, Indigenous Peoples, and rural Ontarians to protect our natural spaces.

Ted Crysler, Liberals: The most important change would be to repeal the Ford government’s disastrous conservation and environmental legislation and empower the conservation authorities again. The conservation authorities need to have the power to protect our wetlands, not be used as a rubber stamp for Ford’s developer friends to build whatever they want.

As part of the Ontario Liberal plan, we will designate 30 per cent of land as protected areas by 2030, which should include sensitive wetlands.

The Liberals will create five new provincial parks. If elected as MPP for Simcoe-Grey, I would advocate tirelessly for one of them to be in our riding, which would also help protect wetlands. I would advocate to reduce the growth targets imposed on counties by the Ford government. This would stop sprawl and encroachment on wetlands.

Finally, the Silver Creek wetland area is a provincially significant wetland that must be protected. I will fight to ensure no development occurs on it.