By: Mike Anderson
The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority’s (LSRCA) controversial reissue of a section 28 permit, which grants the DG Group permission to bulldoze a large section of the North Gwillimbury Forest, should signal there is something wrong with our local conservation authority.
After all, the LSRCA’s decision to reissue the permit on June 18 was made after an LPAT ruling declaring DG Group’s Maple Lake Estates (MLE) lands to be an Environmental Protection Area (EPA) was upheld on May 14, effectively halting any development on the MLE lands pending a zoning change by the Town.
LSRCA’s actions regarding the section 28 permits – granting the original permit to DG Group in 2018, and again reissuing the permit this spring – has forced the Town to twice threaten legal action.
The LSRCA has also nurtured a cosy relationship with major developers through its Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation (LSCF), despite its pledge to protect the watershed from their shovels.
According to DG Group’s website, the developer is a significant contributor to LSRCA’s new $6.5 million Scanlon Creek Nature Centre in Bradford — donating $250,000 in 2019 — and regularly gives generously to its annual conservation dinner, which raises more than $200,000 each year. The LSCF’s 2018 Gratitude Report lists DG Group as a “Lake Simcoe Steward Sponsor” for its 30th annual conservation dinner, which means DG Group forked out $20,000 for that honour.
Why didn’t LSRCA decline DG Group’s request to renew the section 28 permit? Was it a fear of biting the hand that feeds it? We many never know, because LSRCA’s permit approvals are not subject to public review.
LSRCA needs to be brought into the 21st century. Its decisions, especially those regarding development in the Lake Simcoe watershed, need to more accountable and transparent to the public.
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