Ontario ends years of controversy over environmentally sensitive Georgina wetlands
GEORGINA, ONT. -- The Ontario government put an end to years of controversy over the wetlands in Georgina's North Gwillimbury forest by announcing plans to add 360 hectares of privately-owned land to the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA).
A portion of the land was slated for development decades ago before provincially significant wetlands were recognized.
"For years, a solution was sought that would respect the environment and property rights of the owner," said York Simcoe MPP Caroline Mulroney. "Yet for years, the issue was left unresolved until now."
"To put it into perspective, 360 hectares is equivalent to 889 football fields or slightly more than 77 SkyDomes," said Steve Clark, Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing.
The land is being transferred to the LSRCA to be preserved for future generations.
The move represents the most significant land donation in its 70-year history.
"We are so excited to see where this takes us," said Rob Baldwin, CAO for the LSRCA. "It's a large land right near Lake Simcoe."
As part of the announcement, the province is also committing to add two acres of protected green space for every acre of land developed through the use of a minister's zoning order (MZO), which allows the government to freely decide how land is used in Ontario.
When asked how many MZO'S the province expects to hand out over the next year, Minister Clark said he could not predict of the more than 400 municipalities how many of them would submit requests.