It's Environmentally Crucial to Save
Oak Ridges Moraine
by Dorothy Izzard
The Toronto Star: Letters
Aug. 23, 1990
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On July 26, MPP Ron Kanter released his Greater Toronto
Area Greenlands Strategy, with a number of very important
recommendations. (Copies are available at your public library.)
One of the most important recommendations was the recognition
of the value and the purpose of the Oak Ridges Moraine.
The province will begin a two-year study on the moraine;
and announce a general expression of provincial interest.
The purpose of declaring provincial interest would be to
provide time to conduct a comprehensive land-use planning
study of the Oak Ridges Moraine.
The province would review all proposed official plan amendments
and rezoning applications. In the specific instances of the
towns of Richmond Hill and Aurora, the province would also
review plans of subdivisions.
So what is the Oak Ridges Moraine and why is the moraine
- What is the moraine?
It is a major landform in southern Ontario stretching
for more than 100 miles from the Niagara Escarpment to
the Trent River.
It was formed by glaciers (like large bulldozers) pushing
the earth into high ridges (300 metres).
The moraine is characterized by a rolling hummocky or
hilly appearance dotted by lakes (more than 100), swamps,
The soils are generally sand, gravel or clay.
- Why save the moraine?
The environmentally crucial aspects of the moraine lie
below its surface beauty. It is a recharge and discharge
area for more than 50 rivers.
As rain falls, it is filtered down into large storage
aquifers. Functionally, the moraine constitutes a magnificent
water-control system. Water which must not be contaminated
At present, 10 towns along the moraine use this water
source for their municipal water supplies.
- Why save the moraine's surface waters?
Kettle lakes, swamps, bogs, etc. are all an integral
part of the moraine's aquifers. These wetlands also form
a natural habitat for many ecosystems.
- Why save the headwaters of rivers?
Headwaters must be protected from disturbance and pollution
to ensure the integrity of our river systems, the cleanliness
of our beaches and, most of all, the quality of our drinking
- Why save our natural habitats?
It is imperative that appropriate areas of habitat be
set aside to ensure species diversity. Perhaps 10- to
20 metre-wide strips of greenlands are not adequate for
- Why save the moraine's cultural heritage?
There is evidence of many Indian villages and burial
grounds around the water courses of the moraine. Some
sites date back to times B.C. Studies must be done to
protect and recreate some of these sites.
- Why save the agricultural lands?
There are considerable agricultural lands along the moraine.
Along with conventional farming, horse stables and pick-your-own
farms are needed for optional lifestyles and recreational
open spaces for a population that is to grow to more than
5 million by 2011.
- Why save the moraine's trees and forests?
Trees and forests release oxygen into the air and improve
our air quality.
If you would like to learn more about the moraine or
even work to help save what is valuable within the morane,
please call STORM Coalition.
STORM (Save the Oak Ridges Moraine) Coalition is a coalition
of citizen groups, university groups and individuals whose
focus is the moraine.
Our mandate is to obtain legislated environmental protection
for the Oak Ridges Moraine from the province.
Please help by calling or writing to STORM.
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