Sunday, January 11, 2015

Park lands and Green Spaces of Southern Ontario

This blog was started on January 11, 2015

Last Edited Feb 7, 2015

Feb. 28, 2015 at part B.

April 11, 2015, end of part B.

July 28, 2015 @  PART C  Hasting's County Cottage Country

Aug 19, 2015 at end

Part A

This blog has been created to help bring awareness and hopefully action towards the diminishing green space and park lands in Southern Ontario.  

As more and more of our rural areas become developed there is an increased need for park lands and green spaces.  Unfortunately not all municipal leaders recognizes this need nor do they care. 

The majority of Canadians live along the grand trunk corridor from Montreal to Windsor, on a small percentage of Canada's land mass.  Yes there are tons of Provincial and National Parks to the north but it is the small urban areas who are currently in need of more park lands and green spaces. 

Far too many communities are developing their towns and cities and not factoring in adequate green spaces and park lands for the enjoyment of all of the people. 

Currently all of the lakes in Ontario's cottage country from North of Toronto to North of Kingston are mostly private property. Aside from the provincial parks, most of the public park lands that are available for public use are extremely small, are located on busy streets, or are in a crowded private trailer parks. 

Park lands and green spaces are known to improve the social, mental, and physical well being of citizens.  They have been around since ancient Rome 60 BC, who recognized the significance of public places in the creation of healthy communities.

In order to preserve and acquire more park lands, conservation areas, and green spaces in Southern Ontario I think they should change the following:

1.  All school board properties should be declared 'community facilities' that belong to the tax payer and not to be sold off once the school boards no longer needs them.  These properties belong to the tax payer to begin with, and are often the only green space in a given neighborhood.

2.  Duck's Unlimited, Conservation Authorities, and the Conservatory of Canada should NOT be paying taxes because they are selling off park lands and turning down donated lands because they can not afford the taxes on them.   These lands are Ontario's saving grace and need to be preserved no matter what the cost.  75% or 3/4 of Ontario's wetlands have been filled in.  Wetlands are the kidneys of the earth, they filter all impurities from the water.

If government salaries are going to rise, without an increase to their individual budgets, then government employees should find some other way to pay for these salary increases besides selling off public lands, parks, and green spaces.  ONTARIO'S PARK LANDS AND GREEN SPACES ARE NOT PENSION PLANS FOR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES so they need to quit treating them as such.

Municipalities all over the country are reporting the same problem, their local governments are selling off what ever they can to meet rising wage demands.

For information on park land acquisition please visit my blog at #8 Park land Acquisition.

Here's some examples of park lands or community green spaces that are currently being sold off:

Queen Elizabeth Park in Trenton Ontario

A road allowance in Trenton that could be a hiking trail. 

School property in Marmora Ontario

America's Healthy Parks, Healthy People Campaign 


Part B 

The Recognition in the need for Green Spaces in the role of the Municipal Leader and the need for non reversal clauses on all Park Lands.

The recognition of significant open green spaces was recognized as early as the Roman Empire before Christ Era.  Various Roman Senators knew the beneficial role that open spaces played in the physical, social, and mental well being of its citizens.

An excerpt from: The Development of Public Recreation in Canada, by Elsie Marie McFarland, Ph.d. Published by Canadian Parks and Recreation Association, Ottawa Ontario, 1970, states that... “By 1867... In Canada there appears to have been early recognition of the advantages of open space for public use, especially if it could be obtained from senior government or through private gift.”

So Canada too recognized this need for open spaces in the early years of colonization.

One reason why we need non reversal clauses on all municipal (or other) parklands is because it is way too easy for another government to come along and undo what a previous government had established and this has happened far too often in the course of history, meaning that one government will establish green spaces only to have a future government come along and sell off the land.

One prime example of this is Dufferin Avenue in Belleville Ontario.

You can see by this map of 1887, that Dufferin Avenue does not even exist and that there is a blank area where it now does exist.  That is because Dufferin Avenue was an old growth oak forest that the local government was planning to leave as open green space for future generations.  Like I said before, our early ancestors knew the significance behind this and probably because a lot of them immigrated from Ireland, England, Scotland, and France and had learnt from centuries of experiences. 

So in the 1940’s some time, lots on Dufferin Avenue started to be sold off.  Any paperwork for the ‘green space’ that may have existed has disappeared.  I know all of this because my father had me later in life and I grew up around elders who were mostly in their late 70s and early 80s, so it is a story passed down through time.  Also when I worked at a senior’s home, a few of them told me this story as well. 

The last lot on Dufferin Avenue was sold of in the 1970s.

The point that I’m trying to make, is that we are loosing this ‘logic’ in our urban areas when it comes to leaving significant green spaces in our urban areas especially in Southern Ontario where the bulk of Canadians live.

The quality of a lot of parks in Southern Ontario (not all parks) are crap because a lot of them are on busy streets and because we are very much a ‘fossil fuel economy’ and the economy is so bad, there are still tons of toxic emissions on the roads. 

A park land can, and should be, established on significant landmark resources, such as properties with nice views of the sunset or unique sand bar beaches for examples. 

Many small towns in Ontario could capitalize off eco-tourism as an industry because there is a growing demand for this type of out door recreation.  Eco-tourism basically means ‘people enjoying the outdoors in its most natural state.’  And shy away from developers who want to destroy a unique ‘ecosystem’ for the eco-tourism development.  Leaving unique ecosystems in their most natural state and placing developments on less desirable properties makes more sense. 

The open space seen on the right shows where the once 'designated green space' area was that is now Dufferin Avenue. It was once designated as old oak growth forest green space to be saved for future generations. 

This map here clearly shows Belleville growing around what is now Dufferin Avenue. 

'Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.' Proverbs 22:18 



Hasting's County Cottage Country

Unfortunately our forefathers of Hasting's County didn't have the foresight to set aside significant waterfront properties for future generations such as sand beaches, properties with good sun set views, green spaces on the water front.  Belleville, Trenton and even Peterborough,our neighbour county, have been smart and have been able to purchase significant waterways for park lands for the enjoyment of all of the people.  Central Hastings (Which includes Marmora, Madoc, Tweed, Stirling,) hasn't quit caught onto that concept as of yet, as municipal leaders are selling off waterfront park lands.  When a property with a significant beach in Marmora went up for sale, the local politicians and a few taxpayers asked the Feds if they would purchase it for this area for $3 million dollars, the Feds said "no".  Yet some how the Feds and the province were able to come up with billions and billions of dollars for scandal after scandal after scandal.  If that's not corruption, I don't know what is. 

Aug 19, 2015:

Park Land Acquisition: One of the biggest complaint that I've heard from Recreational Directors from all over North America is of the frustrations at not being able to control the sale of tax payer properties that should be converted to public green space, like the selling off of school board properties (which, due to poor municipal planning, are often the only green space in that given neighbourbhood), park lands, municipal owned lands of other types.   Municipal Recreational leaders every where are complaining about this issue.