Ross Howard, David Israelson, Michael Keating

Environmental Journalists

By Ross Howard, David Israelson, Michael Keating
As designated environmental reporters in the 1970s and 80s, Howard, Israelson and Keating played a critical role in conveying information gathered from academics, scientists, governments and non-governmental organizations to the public.

The Journalists

Of all information sources, newspapers have traditionally been the most influential. Their high profile stories coming out early in the day are picked up by radio, television and now Internet news sites.   Because of this, they often set the agenda for public and political debates.  In the 1970s, rising public interest in environmental issues prompted editors at Canada’s major newspapers and later at some broadcast outlets to create an environmental “beat” on a par with health or education, and reporters were directed to track down and report on the most exciting and often alarming developments in this field. At the Toronto Star where he worked from 1975 to 1984, Ross Howard became one of Canada’s first environment reporters..  For Howard, it was an “amazing time” of transition when pollution was becoming a serious subject of scientific study and public concern rather than simply a series of unconnected stories about irritants like litter and trash, and he specialized in writing about environmental issues for eight years of his journalistic career.  When Howard gave up his post in 1984, David Israelson, who worked at the Star from 1983 to 1998, succeeded him, beginning in 1985.  Similarly, the Globe and Mail, in response to the high level of public interest, had its own dedicated environmental reporter, Michael Keating, an experienced journalist who covered these issues for the Globe from 1979 to 1988. The Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail were then, and still are, among the most widely read newspapers in Canada.  While the Globe sees itself as the authoritative voice of Canadian journalism with a national reach and a political-economic focus, the Star with the highest circulation of any paper in Canada, has long pursued a populist middle-class stance and more aggressive reporting towards selected issues.

Breaking Environmental News

As designated environmental reporters in the 1970s and 80s, Howard, Israelson and Keating played a critical role in conveying information gathered from academics, scientists, governments and non-governmental organizations to the public.   Reports, lawsuits, lobbying campaigns, commissions, government announcements, the results of scientific studies and leaked documents all provided breaking news, and the level of public interest was high. In following professional standards of accuracy, fairness and balance, these reporters had to weigh claims and counter-claims made by emerging groups and individuals who wanted their environmental issues covered by the press.  The journalists also had to try to assess the risks of pollution problems to public health and the environment, recognizing that in a time of heightened public interest and concern their reporting could influence significantly how issues were perceived and managed. Although none of the three reporters in this session were trained as scientists, their on-the-job education gave them a rich understanding of the science behind environmental issues – the consequences of air and water pollution, the risks of chemicals to human health, or the effects of long-range transportation of acid-rain causing emissions on prized areas such as Muskoka Lakes.  During the period when they were writing, many “brave” scientists, as Howard calls them, both inside and outside federal and provincial governments, took the time to explain the complex science behind these issues both on and off the record.   This investment in educating reporters was reflected in the high level of sophistication found in news stories about acid rain, dioxin contamination of the Great Lakes and other headline environmental issues of the day.

The Political Hot Seat

Environmental news began to regularly command front page headlines and extensive explanatory stories.  With the support of their editors, the three journalists kept environmental issues at the forefront of public awareness, which considerably influenced a sea change in public attitudes:  where pollution had once been regarded as the cost of doing business and considered a fair trade-off for economic benefits, a better-informed public became attentive to exposures and risks and losses and consequences and began to demand greater corporate responsibility and government action. The environment became a political hot potato.  Almost daily the Ontario Minister of Environment had to be prepared to answer to the press, the public and the provincial Legislature every time a story broke, and the heat proved too warm for many of them. As Keating pointed out in one of his many front page stories, there was a turnover of five Environment Ministers in seven years in Ontario during the years of Progressive Conservative governments.  The heat was almost unrelenting but its sources were as diverse as the global environment itself -- an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine, the chemical leak at Union Carbide in Bhopal, India, a radioactive spill from the Pickering nuclear plant, the discovery of dioxin in herring gull eggs taken from the Great Lakes or maple trees believed to be dying from acidified rain. As the media continued to highlight these stories, the public mood gradually changed from concern to alarm.  The Ontario government realized that the environment was more than an engineering problem and began to assert higher protective and preventative standards.  Tougher legislation that required greater corporate accountability and costs was directed at specific environmental problems such as acid rain. Enforcement was strengthened to ensure that companies controlled their spills and emissions more effectively. By putting environmental issues on the front page and making them a frequent subject for editorial comment, water-cooler conversation and protest, environmental journalists were instrumental in changing public perceptions of pollution by the early 1980s.  These journalists kept the issues high in opinion polls, instigated wide-ranging policy debates and ensured a new degree of political accountability for the state of the environment.  
Robert Paehlke, Doug Macdonald and Mark Winfield

Environmental Historians Talk About Ontario’s Environmental History

By Robert Paehlke, Doug Macdonald and Mark Winfield
In this session, Bob, Doug and Mark discuss the political upheavals in Ontario and the influence of environmental activism on governments of different political stripes.

Robert Paehlke, Doug Macdonald and Mark Winfield have all been well-placed observers of, and sometime participants in, Ontario’s environmental history.  As educators, they have taught and written about the events and the policies that have shaped Ontario’s environmental path.  As well, working for or in association with non-governmental organizations, they have themselves influenced the province’s decision-making process. Robert (Bob) Paehlke is a professor emeritus of Trent University, where in the 1960s as one of a newly-minted group of environmental professors, he taught environment and politics and continued to do so for more than 35 years.  In 1971, he founded Canada’s premier environmental magazine, Alternatives, which has been an invaluable source of scientific information and policy discussion ever since.   He is also the author of numerous publications on environmental issues including his most recent book, Some Like It Cold: The Politics of Climate Change in Canada.  Doug Macdonald has taught environmental policy at the University of Toronto (U of T) for several years as a Senior Lecturer in the School of the Environment.  Before coming to U of T, he was the Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Research Foundation from 1982 to 1988, which was renamed the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy (CIELAP) but is now defunct.  He has also written extensively on the need for a strong environmental assessment process in Ontario. Mark Winfield is an associate Professor at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, the first environmental program in Canada.  He specializes in environmental policy, sustainable energy and urban sustainability.  Before coming to York, he was Program Director at The Pembina Institute from 2001 to 2007, and before that Director of Research for CIELAP.  In 2012, his book, Blue-Green Province: The Environment and the Political Economy of Ontario, examining the relationship between environmental policy and the politics and economy of the province, was released. In this session, Bob, Doug and Mark discuss the political upheavals in Ontario and the influence of environmental activism on governments of different political stripes.  

The Conservative Years and the Response to Environmental Concerns

In the late 1960s when environmental activism began, Bob Paehlke recalls small groups popping up in every city and town in Canada, and even a minor protest could attract publicity.   Then, during the 1970s and early 80s at the same time the environmental movement was gaining strength, the Conservative Party was enjoying a long uninterrupted run of governing the province.  The government under Premier Bill Davis responded to growing environmental concerns by establishing the Ministry of Environment in 1971.  This was accomplished by piecing together institutions such as the Ontario Water Resources Commission and departments from other Ministries that had responsibility for air, water or land.  Also in 1971, Davis broke with the institutional model and, in an act of goodwill towards the nascent environmental momentum and the Stop Spadina Save Our City campaign, cancelled plans for the Spadina Expressway.  Spadina was one of six expressways intended to bring suburban commuters to their jobs in downtown Toronto that would have meant the destruction of thousands of homes in the heart of the City. One of the boldest initiatives, though, of the Davis government was the introduction and passage of the Environmental Assessment (EA) Act, which established an innovative planning process for public projects.  It was intended to provide for “an integrated consideration at an early stage of the entire complex of environmental effects which might be generated.” It was passed by the Ontario Legislature in 1975 and proclaimed in force in 1976.  According to Mark Winfield, the EA Act transformed the Ministry of Environment from a Ministry concerned about pollution and garbage to a Ministry that could pass judgment on the desirability of projects proposed by other Ministries and government agencies such as Ontario Hydro.  From an institutional perspective, it was a huge shift that saw the Ministry of Environment’s stature rise within government, from “a patched together Ministry to a Ministry with power.”  

The Liberals’ Countdown Acid Rain Program:  The Zenith of Activism

In 1985 after Davis’ retirement, although the Conservatives won more seats in the Ontario Parliament by a slim margin, they did not have a majority.  Shortly after the election, the New Democratic Party agreed to support the Liberals for two years in return for the implementation of a mutually approved Accord.  At this point, the momentum for controlling acid rain had been growing and in 1986 Environment Minister, Jim Bradley, introduced Countdown Acid Rain, an ambitious program that would limit the emissions of Inco and other major sources of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the province.  Environmental groups, particularly the Coalition on Acid Rain, had been instrumental in galvanizing public support for controls, and the introduction of this program reflected their considerable influence on the political agenda of the day. During the late 1980s and into the early 1990s, with public support still strong and effective groups actively promoting an environmental agenda, the Ministry of Environment led by keen Ministers of Environment enjoyed a period of successful initiatives and policy measures.  Many projects were reviewed under the Environmental Assessment Act with the public actively engaged in the planning process.  The Ministry of Natural Resources, for example, under the Environmental Assessment for Timber Management was required to submit its plans for forest management to an extensive public review which started in 1985, and a decision to accept the EA with conditions was made by the Environmental Assessment Board in 1994.  The Ministry’s enforcement activities were having a systemic impact on the way in which industry managed their environmental impacts.  The Investigations and Enforcement Branch was actively bringing polluters to justice, and its successful prosecution of Bata Industries showed that officers and directors could be liable if they did not follow through on their environmental responsibilities.  

The Legacy of the NDP

Another election in 1990 brought in the New Democratic Party.  Continuing a proactive approach to environmental concerns, Ruth Grier, the Environment Minister, banned incineration and took on the ill-fated task, which the former Liberal government had begun, of finding a site for Toronto’s garbage.  The NDP also introduced and passed the Environmental Bill of Rights, which Mark Winfield describes as a part of the NDP legacy that has survived.  However, the NDP were presented with tough economic times in the province and the Ministry of Environment, which had seen its funding go steadily up during the Bradley years, was caught in the financial restraints being imposed by the government.  This was the beginning of the Ministry’s funding and influence being eroded as successive governments continued to reduce the Ministry’s funding and weaken programs and legislation such as the EA Act that had been put in place by their predecessors. The story of the environment in Ontario is not one of uninterrupted progress, say the historians.  There were policy failures such as the Ontario Waste Management Corporation’s unsuccessful search for a hazardous waste site.  And, after many of the gains realized in the decades of the 70s, 80s and into the early 90s -- the creation of the Ministry of Environment itself, the passage of strong environmental legislation and the aggressive work of the Investigations and Enforcement Branch -- the province’s once strong environmental performance has been diminished not only by the withdrawal of funding for the Ministry but by policy reversals and deregulation.
Sarah Miller, John Jackson, Jeanne Jabanoski

Great Lakes United

By Sarah Miller, John Jackson, Jeanne Jabanoski
The Great Lakes form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth and 21% of the world's surface fresh water.

Great Lakes United: Cross-border coalition pushed Great Lakes issues onto political agenda

By the 1970s, the ecological fate of the Great Lakes hung in the balance. Lake Erie was choked with algae, toxic dump sites were leaking poisons into the Niagara River, and the media routinely featured graphic reports of fish kills and deformed waterfowl. Yet despite the mounting evidence, federal, provincial and state governments on both sides of the basin were ponderously slow to respond to the rapid decline of the Great Lakes. Into that vacuum of leadership stepped Great Lakes United (GLU), one of the first and, in its time, one of the most effective cross-border environmental coalitions. In a series of well planned campaigns, delivered with passion and backed by solid research, GLU facilitated citizen action, lobbied politicians and other decision-makers on the looming environmental crisis, and offered practical solutions on issues threatening the ecosystem of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Three former Great Lakes United Board members – former Environment Canada and Toronto Public Health official Jeanne Jabanoski, environmental activist and academic John Jackson, and now retired Canadian Environmental Law Association researcher Sarah Miller – discuss the early days of the organization and the evolution of environmental issues over the last 35 years in the Great Lakes basin. John also served as GLU’s president and vice president, Sarah as its vice president, and Jeanne as its Canadian treasurer for two terms.

The Beginning

In May 1982, a diverse group of conservationists, environmentalists, trade unionists, First Nations reps, educators and scientists from Canada and the United States gathered for two days in a sunlit meeting room on Michigan’s Mackinac Island to find a way to work together and focus attention on some of the key issues facing the Great Lakes. A new binational coalition was officially launched six months later during an organizing meeting in Windsor, Ontario. Great Lakes United – a name chosen after hours of debate – reflected the members’ overriding desire to work together for a common cause, while the witty acronym GLU represented “the group that holds the Great Lakes together.” By 1984, some 100 groups had gathered under the GLU banner. The coalition first coalesced around its members’ opposition to an ambitious and environmentally invasive proposal by the U.S.  Army Corps of Engineers to open the Great Lakes, via the St. Lawrence River, to winter shipping.  Concerned by the destructive impact of ice breaking on fish and wildlife habitat and the increased risk of spills, GLU succeeded in persuading the U.S. Congress to shelve the project in 1984.

Early success

That early success was followed by a series of effective, well planned campaigns that are still remembered for their inventive tactics. For instance, GLU co-hosted a “toxic buffet” for Washington, D.C. decision-makers featuring a menu of lake-caught salmon, trout and sturgeon – each with its toxic contaminants listed – and drinking water sourced from each of the Great Lakes. The deformed cormorant Cosmo, its beak twisted and distorted by the mutagenic chemicals in its parents’ diet, made several memorable appearances at press conferences in the Region and congressional hearings in Washington DC. In 1986, GLU toured communities around the lakes, holding high-profile community hearings where local residents voiced their concerns about environmental issues and toxic threats. The findings from GLU’s hearings became an important basis for the Canadian and U.S. governments’ renegotiation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1987. Again and again, GLU’s reasoned arguments and impassioned campaigns derailed major water diversion proposals, focused attention on the toxic effects of air and water pollution on wildlife, supported passage of the Great Lakes Charter on water diversions and the Four-Party Niagara River Toxics Management Agreement, and helped strengthen the U.S. Clean Water Act. GLU staff also worked with local groups to build support for the development of Remedial Action Plans (or RAPS) for the then 42 areas of concern in some of the most contaminated sites around the basin, and successfully lobbied for the addition of a 43rd site to this action list.

Debate continues over tactics

By May 1986, GLU’s member groups totaled 200. However, despite the early and on-going effectiveness of GLU, members continued to debate whether the organization should embrace political action by mobilizing and coordinating grassroots advocacy, or whether it should be a looser coalition, focused on education and information sharing.
“GLU's success was the care they took to be inclusive and democratic. I remember a lot of hard work that aimed for consensus on the principles that would guide campaign programs and actions each year.” — Sarah Miller
In the end, GLU adopted a compromise approach, supporting and facilitating the campaigns of local groups, while giving voice to those community concerns on the basin-wide international stage. In turn, the exuberance and local expertise of the grassroots groups kept GLU on the cutting edge of environmental developments. For example, GLU and its membership pioneered the ‘ecosystem approach’ and the ‘zero discharge’ goal. They insisted that Great Lakes governance needed to be guided by these concepts. As a result of the success of its community hearings on Great Lakes issues in 1986, GLU was granted official observer status during the formal negotiations between Canada and the U.S. on the 1987 update of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). And when GLU talked, politicians listened because they knew the coalition was backed by hundreds of organizations with tens of thousands of members.

Working with the IJC

GLU also played an integral role in the deliberations of the International Joint Commission (IJC), the independent binational body established by the U.S. and Canada to regulate shared water uses and investigate transboundary issues. The biennial IJC meetings in the 1980s and early 90s provided a platform for GLU to raise concerns, often loudly and boisterously, about contaminated sediments, human health effects, invasive species and climate changes effects on the Great Lakes, and to push for the ‘zero discharge’ of priority pollutants to both the Commission and the international media. However the terms of the 1987 GLWQA, assigning operational responsibility for much of the action on the Great Lakes back to the individual federal, state and provincial agencies, undermined the influence of the IJC and, ultimately, binational coalitions like GLU. The organization continued to work and contribute to the environmental discourse, but the binational Great Lakes community of governments, scientists, and activists was weakening. Funding foundations moved on to embrace other causes, while government funding for citizen participation evaporated. The renewal and modernization of the GLWQA – the focus of so much of GLU's work – was put ‘on hold’ for almost 10 years. The Canadian federal government quietly abandoned its Great Lakes commitments, while the U.S. funded local agencies to carry on their Great Lakes projects unilaterally. These changes in the Great Lakes activities and community made the challenge of maintaining the binational coalition of Great Lakes United ever more challenging. GLU’s Board of Directors made the difficult decision to close down the organization’s operations and Buffalo office on July 1, 2013. Although individual former GLU members remain active, they sorely miss the coordinated international voice that GLU provided for the Great Lakes.  
David Donnelly, Andrew Stewart, Bruce Lourie

How foundations helped build Canada’s environment movement

By David Donnelly, Andrew Stewart, Bruce Lourie
Canada’s grant-giving foundations played a seminal role in the origins of Canada’s environmental movement.

Canada’s grant-giving foundations have not only supported the arts and education, medical research and social causes. They also played a seminal role in the origins of Canada’s environmental movement. Our guests in this story reveal the hidden face of philanthropy and the part it played in the growth of the environmental movement in Canada. It all started with endangered spaces and species. During the 1960s and 70s, a number of Canadian charitable foundations were actively involved in conservation and land preservation work, providing substantial funds to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists and similar groups to buy key parcels of Canada’s natural heritage to protect them from development. There were also funds for assembling properties for future parkland, and protecting iconic endangered species. Foundations (in Canada) are charities that either undertake their own activities or fund others from the endowments contributed by wealthy individuals, families, corporations or communities. They receive funding from a variety of arm's length donors while the bulk of the funding of a private foundation comes from a person or group of people that control the charity. Fifty years ago, the major foundations active in the conservation field were, primarily, family run. While their generous (and much needed) donations reflected the personal passions of those families, they did not tend to challenge the land use decisions that were converting Canada’s greenspace and farmland into sprawling subdivisions. By the 1970s, times were changing. Several funders had begun to kick start the advocacy and reform work that became the hallmark of the young environmental movement. The Ivey Foundation donated the first $25,000 to get Pollution Probe off the ground. The McLean Foundation funded the Innu’s fight against low-level jet training by the Canadian military over Labrador. A number of foundations – including the Laidlaw, Gordon and McLain foundations – were funding organizations active in Arctic resource development issues. They also helped First Nations and environment groups prepare their expert cases before the Mackenzie Valley pipeline inquiry.
“[Through the 1980s,] environmental grant-giving was a mostly haphazard, ad hoc use of funds … The money ended up, in [too] many cases, in the wrong places at the wrong time.”
By the 1990s two things were becoming clear. First, environmental groups desperately needed more (and more sustainable) funding to maintain their advocacy work, especially in the face of austerity-minded and business-friendly governments busy rolling back their environmental programs. And second, the foundations needed to start working together in order to make their donations more strategic and much more effective. It was becoming increasingly difficult to see how all the individual grants fit into the larger picture. In 1995, representatives from a dozen foundations initiated the idea of a network of Canadian environmental grantmakers that would collaborate, share knowledge and work together to build an environmentally sound and sustainable future for Canadians. The Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network (CEGN) opened an office in October 2000, and incorporated federally as a not-for-profit organization in 2001. Canadian foundations also supported the Sustainability Network to help environmental groups and other non-profits improve their management, leadership and organizational skills. Over the last ten years, foundations have been a central force in resurrecting a series of progressive land use initiatives. Sparked by the Walkerton drinking water tragedy, provincial governments began to reconsider their slash-and-burn approach to environmental protection. First, the Harris government brought in legislation to safeguard the Oak Ridges Moraine from urban development. Then, the McGuinty government, backed by the solid research and an extremely effective public relations campaign prepared by a coalition of environmental groups, brought in legislation to protect more than one million additional acres in a Greenbelt that extends from the Niagara Escarpment through the Moraine lands and north to the shores of Lake Simcoe.
“The foundations all brought not only money, but a spirit of wanting to get something done.
Today, foundations and funding programs are more important than ever, creating coalitions, forging partnerships, bringing new ways of thinking to the evolving environmental issues of the new millennium. Targeted donations are helping spark the green economy and building bridges between health professionals and environmentalists looking at the insidious impacts of toxics in the environment. The CEGN has grown to represent more than 65 private, community, public and corporate foundations, as well as government and corporate funding programs that provide over $50 million in environmental grants across Canada each year. Governments and large corporations have set up a number of funding projects to support environmental programs and objectives. For more information, see the Canada Revenue Agency webpage. For more information on many of Canada’s environmental grantmakers, visit the CEGN website at
Gracia Janes, John Bacher, Elbert van Donkersgoed

Preserving Agricultural Lands

By Gracia Janes, John Bacher, Elbert van Donkersgoed
What happens when you take some of the most productive farmland in Ontario, add huge pressure to build on it, and then bring on hundreds of activists who are determined to protect the land? You get the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario.

The Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society (PALS) and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) — two groups that worked and fought together, to change the thinking of those who would allow the province’s farmland to be gobbled up by development. Gracia Janes and John Bacher of PALS and Elbert van Donkersgoed of the CFFO have been part of the work to protect farmland since Ontarians first started giving the issue serious attention in the 1970s. A Changing Landscape Up until then, southern Ontario was changing fast from a largely rural region into the now heavily populated area known as the Greater Golden Horseshoe. It stretches from the Niagara Peninsula to the eastern edge of the Greater Toronto Area and is home to more than 5 million people. As the population grew, so did clashes over land use. Cities and towns wanted to expand onto farmland, and some farmers were eager to sell pieces of their land for a large profit, to retire or seek other work. The planning rules were loose. For example, at the time, Ontario’s Planning Act allowed rural landowners to “checkerboard” their properties — break it up into small patches like a checkerboard and sell off these bits for houses, gas stations or strip malls. The effects can be seen to this day in areas where there are lines of small buildings beside roads, but farmers’ fields behind. The checkerboarded areas are not quite rural, but not built up enough for people to walk to as they would in a village or city. Municipalities also took advantage of weak planning to expand urban boundaries out into the farmlands. It seemed like this was Ontario’s future. Niagara’s fruit belt was particularly vulnerable — it’s a narrow strip of land near both the U.S. border and the heavily populated Toronto area, yet where the climate and soil makes it possible to grow superb tender fruit, such as peaches, cherries, plums and apricots as well as a variety of grapes. In the early 1950s, then-Premier Leslie Frost put it this way: "The fruit land of Niagara is doomed to vanish under industrial encroachment. We can't stop progress." By the mid- 1970s this prophecy seemed to be coming true, as Niagara was experiencing the fastest rate of sprawl in Canada. It didn’t happen that way, thanks in large part to the work of PALS and CFFO and their members. The change from rural to urban continues today, but there are safeguards, protected areas and tougher planning rules to preserve farmland from unbridled urban sprawl. Activism for farmlands PALS was formed in 1976 by ardent fruit land preservationists, such as NDP MPP Mel Swart and Brock University Professor Bob Hoover, as well as Janes, Bacher and 26 other founding members. They were backed by well-known University of Waterloo fruit land expert, Ralph Krueger, the Christian Farmers and more than 500 people from both rural and urban areas who were worried about swiftly vanishing fruit lands, a third of which were gone and a third under urban shadow. Farm members were worried about losing the land they needed to carry on their special type of farming. Rural people worried that their way of life would vanish and urbanites were concerned that there would be nothing but pavement and concrete in southern Ontario. PALS is based in Niagara, but has reached out over the years to help other farmland groups across Ontario and Canada protect prime farmlands. The CFFO was founded by a dozen Dutch immigrants in 1954 (van Donkersgoed joined later). It is part of an international movement to share good farming practices and ethical rural values. During the 1970s and 80s, membership grew to more than 600, and the organization became more involved in public policy, including support of PALS fruit land battles , and sharing the struggle to preserve prime farmland across Ontario. Shortly after PALS was formed, urban boundary expansions in Niagara that were proposed by municipal and regional governments led to PALS’ participation in two sets of Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearings from 1978 to1980. Through PALS’ intervention, the OMB ruled to protect nearly half of the 7,500 acres (3,035 hectares) of fruit land that was threatened by development. The Ontario Municipal Board is an agency to which citizens, groups or corporations can appeal to have planning decisions reviewed and possibly overturned. Its decisions can only be overruled by the Ontario Cabinet, which happens rarely. Today, many experts argue that the OMB has too much power, or that its authority should not apply to Toronto and other big urban areas. At the same time, the OMB has been used successfully by activists to fight for environmental causes — including by PALS. One of the most significant results of the PALS hearings was the OMB’s determination  of what were supposed to be permanent boundaries for urban development in Niagara .  These were first breached 20 years later, in 2001, with an OMB approval of nearly 600 acres of tender fruit land, which expanded the urban boundary of Fonthill. A few years later, the reaction to this loss led to enormous progress being made in Niagara and in prime farmland areas across the Province, as the 2005 Greenbelt Act was enacted. It set out areas that can and cannot be developed within an area of southern Ontario the size of Prince Edward Island. While boundaries could be changed by future governments, now it would require government review and public input to change them. These boundaries aren’t set in stone, but they do designate the areas set out for fruit lands and other agriculture. Teaching and learning Perhaps most importantly, in addition to saving 3,400 acres of tender fruit and grape lands in Niagara by speaking up at OMB hearings, the people who fought — and still fight — to protect farmlands have done a lot to educate both the public and lawmakers. They successfully prevented a huge toxic waste site from being built in the West Lincoln area of the Niagara Peninsula, and in 1994 they persuaded the New Democratic Party government (of then-Premier Bob Rae) to bring in a Niagara Tender Fruit Land Program, under which farmers would be paid to place restrictive covenants on tender fruit lands to preserve them in perpetuity. This Niagara Tender Fruit Land Program was cancelled almost immediately by the development-minded Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris a year later, putting farmland again at the mercy of developers. But ironically, the Harris government later took steps to preserve land in a different area under development pressure, the Oak Ridges Moraine north of Toronto, using restrictive covenants. Today, 85 per cent of Ontario’s tender fruit production and 80 per cent of Ontario’s grapes are grown in Niagara, and the region is an award-winning wine-producing area, thanks in large part to the people who got involved in OMB hearings, developed policy papers, organized their friends and neighbours and helped educate Ontarians about farm land. They don’t consider their work finished. Laws and policies to protect agriculture are in place, but he Greenbelt Plan is up for review in 2015 and there are many, growing urban pressures. We must remember that once the concrete is poured on farmland, it’s not farmland anymore. That is why PALS and its supporters continue to press the government for a proven voluntary land protection program – the use of restrictive covenants to save tender fruit and grape lands for future generations of farmers and urbanites.
Wendy Cook, Colin Isaacs, Derek Stephenson

Blue Box Recycling

By Wendy Cook, Colin Isaacs, Derek Stephenson
Every day, in cities and towns around the world, people step up to the curb with their Blue Boxes full of glass, cans, papers, plastic and other material for recycling. Listen to how Ontarians Wendy Cook, Colin Issacs and Derek Stephenson brought it to fruition.

The Blue Box recycling concept has been a huge success for the environment — and it all started in Ontario, more than a quarter century ago. Many people had a hand in getting recycling started in this province; three people who were intimately involved were Wendy Cook, Colin Isaacs, and Derek Stephenson.

They said no one would do it

Recycling was an idea that many experts said would never catch on. It was associated with hard times or shortages — for example, during World War II, Canadians were encouraged to save scraps of metal, rubber and paper (as well as plastics, which were still relatively new). In better economic times, it just seemed easier to throw things away. Industries did little to encourage recycling, usually because the market prices for recycled materials were too low to make recycling worthwhile. Plus cities and towns across Ontario had ample landfill and dump space. When Ontario's environmental movement began to gather steam in the early 1970s, today’s concerns regarding resource depletion, energy conservation, and climate change were not well understood by the general public. Nevertheless, for many people, throwing everything away simply seemed like the wrong thing to do. Accordingly, environmentalists came up with a practical waste management hierarchy, called the Three Rs — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. One of the few exceptions to concerns about being wasteful at that time was Ontario’s system for handling glass soft drink bottles. To ensure that these bottles were returned and reused, consumers paid a deposit when they bought soft drinks in a glass bottle. The deposit money was returned to the consumer when bottles were brought back to the store (somewhat similar to today’s system in which beer, wine and liquor bottles are returned to The Beer Store). But this system started breaking down as different types of containers, such as large plastic bottles and steel cans, became more popular. The soft drink companies and retailers considered it inconvenient and expensive to put more deposits on more types of containers. A decision would have to be made. Ontarians could continue throwing everything into the landfills and be wasteful, or they could pay deposits on all kinds of materials, which would be complicated, expensive and hard to track. Some environmentalists thought of a third idea: these materials could be collected at curbside and RECYCLED! Many experts in both government and private sector said recycling would never work. The prevailing wisdom among professional waste management experts was that people at home and at work would not want to go to the trouble of sorting their own garbage. With this thought in mind, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment planned to build its own mechanical garbage sorting facility. The idea was that this machinery would sort all the garbage into waste or recycling, and Ontarians could continue to simply throw everything away. Stephenson, Isaacs, Cook and other like-minded environmentalists thought this would be too expensive, would result in high levels of contamination in the recycled materials, and — perhaps most importantly — would not educate people about the need to make better use of our resources nor actively involve them in the solution. They also realized that they could not simply argue that recycling would work; they had to show it could be done.

Blue Boxes are born

In 1974, Stephenson and McGinnis put a small plan into action. They did pilot programs in several areas, including Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood and the Canadian Forces Base at Borden. These programs had a very high participation rate. At one site, they collected so much recycled material that they bent the frame on one of the trucks. During the 1,500-household Kitchener pilot program that followed, they decided to distribute boxes in which homeowners could put their recyclables. At the time, the manufacturer only had blue coloured boxes, and so only blue boxes were provided to the home owners. Right away, participation was 85 per cent. Pretty soon, people who didn't get Blue Boxes started asking for them, and the program was expanded to all of Kitchener. In 1981, the Minister of the Environment announced funding for municipalities to start blue box programs. After Mississauga joined Kitchener with its own blue box program in 1986, recycling took off, expanding to Toronto, across Ontario and to pilot programs in 16 cities around the world by the end of the 1980s. Even by the end of 1988, a million households in Ontario were recycling. Today, more than 95 per cent of Ontario households have access to blue boxes.

What happens to the collected materials?

Garbage collection in Ontario is managed by municipalities, which either employ their own staff, contract collection to a private company, or combine both methods (as is done in Toronto). Collection trucks are often now equipped to take different types of materials in separate compartments — there’s one for plastics and metal, one for paper products, and so on. The trucks take their haul to sorting centres, where they are processed (further segregated, compressed and baled). Organic (compostable) materials are usually collected in separate trucks and taken to composting facilities. From the sorting centres, the recyclable materials are marketed to companies that can reuse them. Today’s paper industry, for example, uses large amounts of recycled paper. Currently, Ontario’s Blue Box program is overseen by the Waste Diversion Organization, a stand-alone government agency. Stewardship Ontario (a not-for-profit agency funded by Ontario-based brand owners, first importers or manufacturers of the products and packaging materials) manages the industry-funding component of the programs. In addition to operating the Blue Box financing program, Stewardship Ontario also manages Orange Drop, a recycling and safe disposal program for hazardous or special waste. The result of more than a generation of effort on recycling is a big success — a made-in-Ontario solution that has grown hand-in-hand with the environmental movement and became a recycling model for the rest of the world.
Rob Leverty, Cecil Louis and Ron Reid

Protecting the Niagara Escarpment

By Rob Leverty, Cecil Louis and Ron Reid
From Queenston on the Niagara River to Tobermory on the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, Ontario is blessed with the Niagara Escarpment. Rob, Cecil and Ron tell stories about the struggles to protect the Escarpment from development.

The Niagara Escarpment, a 450 million-year formation that dominates the landscape in the most populated and densely developed part of Canada. It’s a much-loved wonderland — a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve with abundant forests, farms, wetlands, recreation areas, hiking trails (including the Bruce Trail), historic sites, scenic villages and towns. The Escarpment’s rich ecosystems support 300 bird species, 53 mammals, 36 reptiles and amphibians, 90 fish and 100 varieties of special interest plant life, including 37 types of wild orchids. The Escarpment area is, rich with dolostone, sand, and gravel - the perfect material to quarry for building roads and for construction. In the early 1960s, as southern Ontario was growing, developers and aggregate operators targeted the Escarpment as an ideal source of building material. Meanwhile, Escarpment area farmland was becoming a magnet for residential subdivision development. As these problems escalated, citizens, the provincial government and environmental groups became concerned. Three people caught up in the early struggles to preserve the Niagara Escarpment were Cecil Louis, who was working for the Ontario government as a planner at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ron Reid, a naturalist on the staff of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (FON) and Rob Leverty who became the Executive Director of the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment (CONE), an organization formed by the FON and other concerned environmentalists to protect the Escarpment. The Political Situation in the 1960s and 70s The Ontario government in the 1960s and 1970s (like all Ontario governments since), was seeking to balance explosive growth in southern Ontario with the need to protect and preserve green space, and the Niagara Escarpment was top of mind. In 1967, then-Premier John Robarts commissioned Len Gertler from the University of Waterloo to write a report with recommendations on how to protect the Escarpment. Gertler took an unusual, almost revolutionary approach to planning for the Escarpment. His report came out before environmentalism and ecosystems were household words, yet it recommended protecting large parts of the Escarpment from development, with decisions to be made by an appointed group. This represented new thinking on two levels. Up to the late 1960s land use planning was left largely to local governments, which tended to favour development to expand their tax bases. Gertler called for regional planning that looked at what would be best for the whole province. He implied in his report that a feature like the Niagara Escarpment clearly transcended municipal boundaries, thus requiring provincial level planning. The other element of the new thinking was that the Escarpment should be protected because of its beautiful landscapes. Until then, it was not customary for governments to attach too much value to natural beauty, other than creating an occasional new park. In 1973, the Ontario government, headed by William Davis, who succeeded John Robarts as premier, moved forward with adopting the planning report by passing legislation to protect the Niagara Escarpment – the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act (“the Act”). Premier Davis also set up the 17-member Niagara Escarpment Commission to prepare a Niagara Escarpment Plan, and to decide what development would be allowed in the area. After the Act was passed, the battle to protect the Escarpment began in earnest, and it was long and intense. Developers, aggregate companies, landowners and some municipal governments were up in arms over the restrictions that were put in place under the Act, so they lobbied hard to soften those restrictions as much as possible. This battle lasted over many years, and became one of the biggest public struggles over the environment that ever took place in Ontario. It was constantly in the media and was mentioned all around Ontario. Post-Niagara Escarpment Act The opposition caused by the passing of the Act led to a counter protest by environmentalists at Queen’s Park in 1978, followed by the formation of the CONE. Its matriarch was Lyn MacMillan, and other members included Ron Reid, along with the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the Canadian Nature Federation, Pollution Probe and the citizen-led Foundation for Aggregate Studies. CONE’s first test was to fight the construction of a proposed executive retreat to be built at the Forks of the Credit River on the Escarpment. MacMillan deployed her extensive network of contacts to arrange a meeting with then-Premier Davis. The goal was to persuade him to boost the funding available to buy up ecologically sensitive areas so they could be protected. Premier Davis finally committed $25 million to land protection. . Over the years (before and after the Act became law), all three parties in the Ontario Legislature have officially supported the Escarpment legislation and protection policies The late NDP MPP Mel Swart was particularly supportive of the Escarpment. Other supportive Members of the Ontario Legislative Assembly were Conservative MPP Norm Sterling, Liberal MPP Jim Bradley and NDP MPP Ruth Grier. Sterling, Bradley and Grier also served as Ministers responsible for the Niagara Escarpment Plan. The Niagara Escarpment Today Under the Act, the Niagara Escarpment Plan was approved by Cabinet in 1985, setting out detailed land use policies l. It was t updated in 1990 and again in1995, as required by the Act. The next review will take place in 2015. Today, developers and aggregate companies remain aggressive in their efforts to gain approval for projects in the Niagara Escarpment. It is the job of the Niagara Escarpment Commission to review every application. The Commission typically receives about 550 permit applications each year; it approves about 90 per cent of these, after ensuring that the proposals are in conformity with the policies of the plan, that are designed to keep the Escarpment protected. The result today is a remarkable, environmentally protected area within easy reach of millions of Ontarians and visitors. Every year, some 400,000 visitors come to the Escarpment, thanks to the foresight of the Ontario provincial government, and the consistent support of the many members of the general public acting as part of, or in concert with, Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment.
Jim Robb, Cathy Gregorio and Lois James

Protecting the Rouge River: A Priceless Watershed

By Jim Robb, Cathy Gregorio and Lois James
Are you a friend of the Rouge? These days it’s hard not to be, if you know about this amazing ecosystem teeming with rare and endangered wildlife, right in the Greater Toronto Area. Our guests talk about the road blocks they faced in saving the Rouge Valley system.

Rouge Park (The Rouge) is a magnificent semi-wilderness area nestled within Canada’s most populous region. It covers more than 45 square kilometres and has two National Historic Sites, including a significant First Nation village site and an old portage route. The Rouge is so ecologically important that it’s on the way to becoming Canada’s first Urban National Park — a national park that will be accessible by public transit. Saving the Rouge ecosystem has been a long journey, driven by the hard work of many environmental and community groups such as Save the Rouge Valley System (SRVS), which mobilized people to support the creation of Rouge Park; and Friends of the Rouge Watershed, which developed programs and activities so people can enjoy, learn about, and help restore the ecological health of the Park and watershed. Today, Friends of the Rouge Watershed still works to protect and restore the beautiful Rouge Park. Each year, more than 10,000 school children visit the Rouge, studying its ecosystems, and perhaps most importantly, enjoying nature just minutes away from downtown and suburban neighbourhoods. Early Days The struggle to save the Rouge began in the 1970s, when Toronto was expanding with never-ending development. During that time, Torontonians noticed that there was still beautiful wilderness tucked into the city’s northeast corner. In 1975, local citizens formed SRVS to advocate for better planning and protection for the Rouge River and the valley system. In 1967, a rich wetland northeast of Meadowvale Road and Hwy 401 was set aside for Canada’s Centennial. Even with this commemorative event, developers came and simply drained the wetland. To make matters worse, between 1965 and 1983, there was an active landfill near the Rouge Valley, east of the Toronto Zoo site. Anyone who lived there at that time will remember lots of garbage trucks, seagulls, dust, odours and rats. The growing threats of urban sprawl spurred the SRVS. Developer after developer seemed to come and gobble up wetlands and forests. More needed to be done. Building Local Political Support   In 1987, Joyce Trimmer, a Scarborough city councillor (later mayor of that city before it was amalgamated with Toronto), attended a SRVS meeting. Trimmer gave tough but crucial feedback helping focus the group and its goals. The group’s first political experience was not encouraging. In the mid-1980s, they built public awareness of plans to develop 5,000 acres of land around the Rouge River Valley. But when Scarborough City Council voted, only Trimmer and one other councillor, Edith Montgomery, supported protecting Scarborough Rouge lands. SRVS didn’t give up. Instead, they doubled their efforts to build a broad coalition of community, environmental and political groups, with public support. More than 1,000 people turned up for two Scarborough Council meetings. In 1988, Council voted to protect the 5,000 acres surrounding the Rouge Valley in northeast Toronto. SRVS volunteers knew that the river, which supports the health of the valley and watershed, was still imperiled. There were plans for an adjacent highway and a bigger landfill and developments. SRVS had an idea, an alternative to endless development — the creation of a protected Rouge Park. Another successful fight was the People or Planes campaign. In the 1970s, the provincial and federal governments purchased more than 30,000 acres by the Rouge River. The plan was to create a greenbelt surrounding a proposed international airport in North Pickering. In the end, the airport was not built, leaving most of these lands in public hands and potentially available for a Rouge Park. Meanwhile on the Federal and Provincial scene The Progressive Conservative (PC) government under then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, green for its time, was open to dialogue with activists. SRVS met with Pauline Browes, a PC Member of Parliament from Scarborough Centre, and the Waterfront Commissioner, David Crombie. Together, they gained support for the Rouge Valley from the federal government and then-Environment Minister Tom McMillan. The Save the Rouge campaign was political but non-partisan. In addition to Browes and the PCs, the Ontario Liberal government, under then-Premier David Peterson and Environment Minister Jim Bradley, also supported protecting the Rouge. Bradley’s key aides Gary Gallon, Mark Rudolph, Sarah Rang and David Oved made sure the issue had the government’s attention. In March 1990, Premier Peterson announced the province's plans to create a 10,500-acre (4,250-hectare) Rouge Park, from Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine — almost exactly what SRVS asked for. PC Premier Mike Harris’ government added land to the park in 2001, and in 2005 Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government created the Greenbelt, which placed Rouge Park as "main ecological link" between Lake Ontario and the Oak Ridges Moraine. Bob Hunter, the crusading environment reporter and a founder of Greenpeace, had encouraged SRVS volunteers to never give up, but he also told them to have a healthy dose of cynicism about government announcements. “If you’re not cynical, you’re not paying attention,” he said. His point: the battle for environmental protection does not end, it requires eternal activism. In memory of Bob Hunter, Premier McGuinty created Bob Hunter Memorial Park in 2006.
Toby Vigod, Rick Findlay, Doug Draper

Love Canal’s bigger toxic brother: The Niagara River

By Toby Vigod, Rick Findlay, Doug Draper
Love Canal has become synonymous with irresponsible waste disposal. Between 1947 and 1952, the Hooker Chemical Company dumped an estimated 19,700 tonnes of chemical waste into an abandoned canal which ran through its property in the Love Canal suburb of Niagara Falls, NY.

Between 1947 and 1952, the Hooker Chemical Company – now Occidental Chemical Corporation – dumped an estimated 19,700 tonnes of chemical waste into an abandoned canal which ran through its property in the Love Canal suburb of Niagara Falls, New York. The company buried thousands of 55-gallon metal drums filled with solvents, chlorinated hydrocarbons, acids, caustics and other toxic materials on the site and covered them with a clay cap, complying with the rudimentary environmental standards of the day. Other industrial generators, including the US Army, also dumped their chemical wastes in the Love Canal. By 1953, the site was full and Hooker Chemical sold the property to the local school board for the token amount of one dollar. Despite warnings that the clay cap should not be disturbed or the site excavated, storm sewers, roads and utilities were installed, two elementary schools were erected and hundreds of homes were built over (or adjacent to) the slowly deteriorating drums of highly toxic waste. In June 1958, the first reports of children developing skin rashes after playing on the property appeared. By 1976, residents were complaining of chemical odours, birth defects, miscarriages, respiratory ailments and other serious health problems. The local press and, soon afterwards, the national media picked up the story. And following the airing of a critical and widely-viewed documentary, The Killing Ground, on national television, federal regulatory authorities began to take action.
It was so dramatic. [The wastes in Love Canal] literally destroyed the neighbourhood ... [There were] swing sets, pools in the backyard – it could be your neighbourhood – literally melting in this toxic pool.
On May 21, 1980, US President Jimmy Carter declared a federal health emergency and, in several phases, residents were evacuated from more than 900 homes in a 10-block area surrounding the canal. The notoriety of the Love Canal spurred the passage of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) in 1980 and the establishment of the Superfund remediation program which expanded to cover the excavation and containment of hazardous wastes leaking from hundreds of abandoned dump sites across the US. The Love Canal disposal site was covered by a synthetic liner and clay cap and surrounded by a barrier drainage system. Contamination from the site is still being controlled by a leachate collection and treatment facility. While the New York State Health Commissioner eventually allowed 250 of the abandoned homes to be resettled, hundreds more were demolished and a 16-hectare portion of the site remains empty and overgrown, locked behind security fences to this day. In September 2004, the Love Canal was removed from the Superfund’s National Priority List (NPL). Hyde Park, the “seeping giant” While the Love Canal got most of the headlines, Hooker Chemical continued to dump another 72,600 tonnes of chemical waste – four times more than what went into Love Canal – down the road into the six-hectare Hyde Park Landfill from 1953 to 1975. These were, primarily, chlorobenzenes, toluenes, halogenated aliphatics, and 2,4,5-trichlorophenol still bottoms. While all these compounds pose a serious threat to human health, the still bottoms were contaminated with up to 1.45 tonnes of dioxin, widely acknowledged as one of the most toxic chemicals known to science. That made Hyde Park the single largest deposit of dioxins in the world. And those dangerous chemical wastes were not staying put. Some 600 metres to the northeast of the site, the Niagara River flows north towards Lake Ontario, the primary source of drinking water for millions of people on both sides of the border. The ominously named Bloody Run Creek flowed through the landfill, then under a neighbouring industrial property and through a storm sewer that emptied into the Niagara Gorge. In addition, contaminated groundwater moved through both the glacial overburden and the heavily fractured dolomite bedrock outwards and downwards towards the Niagara Gorge. In 1979, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sued Hooker Chemical to force the company to remediate the site. Two Canadian environmental groups – Operation Clean Niagara and Pollution Probe, both represented by the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) – intervened as amici curiae or “friends of the court” in the federal district court that hammered out and ratified the private settlement agreement between the company and the EPA in April 1982.
Hyde Park was just one [of hundreds of toxic waste sites in the Niagara Frontier], and perhaps one of the less really scary ones in a sense – it was in a hole in the ground and partly contained. There were others that were literally on the banks of the [Niagara] river.
The Hyde Park site was listed on the NPL in September 1983. An aquifer survey, completed that year, defined the extent of contamination and a final remedial action plan was approved by the court in 1986. To date, a landfill cap installed in 1994 has decreased leachate generation, more than 1.1 million litres of dense oily liquids and some 23,000 cubic metres of contaminated sediment have been removed and treated, and purge wells have been installed to contain contaminant plumes and prevent wastes from seeping into the Niagara River. Operation and maintenance of the groundwater removal and treatment systems will continue for the next 30 years. The Hyde Park case sparked a lot of political interest at both the federal and provincial levels, as well as the development of some analytical tools still used today to track minute amounts of extremely toxic chemicals through the environment.
There was quite a mobilization of resources in Canada from a scientific and technical point of view. The Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington … developed some really innovative research techniques for managing [tracking and monitoring] very small amounts of toxic chlorinated types of compounds.
The Hyde Park Landfill file is still active Today, most of the chemical wastes buried across the Niagara Frontier are still lying in the ground, with the capacity to remain toxic for hundreds of years, if not forever. In September 2012, CELA on behalf of the cross-border environmental coalition Great Lakes United wrote to the Emergency and Remedial Response Division of the US EPA to oppose the deletion of the Hooker Hyde Park Superfund site from the National Priorities List. While deletion from the NPL does not preclude the EPA from conducting additional waste “removal” activities at the site, the Agency would be barred from conducting more extensive “remedial” activities, such as such as groundwater treatment. According to CELA counsel Joseph F. Castrilli, “Many of the key reasons that necessitated Hyde Park being listed on the NPL in the 1980s continue to exist today. The chemicals are still there, they are still hazardous and, because of the remedial action strategy chosen, they require robust environmental management essentially forever.” For those reasons, Great Lake United opposes the deletion of Hyde Park from the NPL.
Hap Wilson, Brian Back, Amber Ellis

Temagami, Old Growth and Canoeing

By Hap Wilson, Brian Back, Amber Ellis
During the Red Squirrel Road blockade, Brian Back was buried in the ground up to the neck. Bob Rae, stunned as he walked by, whispered to him, "are you alright?" Listen to the story to hear about how old-growth forests and some of Ontario's wilderness canoeing areas were protected.

The Temagami area in northern Ontario holds one of the largest old growth red and white pine forests in the world. Old growth forests are rare in Ontario due to past extensive logging, but Temagami is   still standing, thanks to Hap Wilson, Brian Back, Amber Ellis and many others who fought hard to preserve the ancient ecosystem.
I remember fights in [the district manager]'s office ... The door was closed and you'd hear screaming, then you'd hear things hit the wall. This was what it was like there. It was a circus.
The Temagami story begins with Hap Wilson: canoeist, outfitter, artist, environment enthusiast, and author of many wilderness guidebooks. As a park ranger from 1976 to 1984, Wilson surveyed and published Temagami’s first, and very popular, Canoe Routes guidebook. This helped lead to a greater awareness of the need for wilderness protection, and opened up the area to outsiders who became advocates through discovery. However, logging and road building were still allowed. Things heated up when a district manager from MNR started illegally clearing land for the Red Squirrel Road in the fall of 1984. Hap was the first to learn about the road clearing, and quickly worked with his supervisor, Reg Sinclair from the Ministry of Natural Resources to "block" particular logging operations scheduled for critical areas by designing hiking trails or new canoe routespushing the development into the review process. In July of 1985, environmentalist Terry Grave and lawyer Owen Smith requested an Environmental Assessment (EA), and lobbied it hard through Queen’s Park for three months. In September 1985, the government finally agreed to conduct the EA. One year later, it was released, but the government had altered the document and removed the author’s name, making it unusable. Nevertheless, the EA was critical to delaying logging and building of the Red Squirrel Road, and gave time for Terry, Hap and activist Brian Back to get organized. In 1986, they formed the Temagami Wilderness Society, with the mission to keep Temagami wild. One of the first things the Society did was to identify a reason for preserving the wilderness in Temagami. In 1988, they commissioned Peter Quinby, a forest-ecology doctorate, to study the Temagami forest. Quinby confirmed the existence of old growth in Temagami – endangered from logging in Eastern Canada.  With their cause strengthened by this finding, the Temagami Wilderness Society distributed brochures featuring photos of Temagami, brought people to the area, and campaigned to stop the area from being developed. For several years, the Temagami Wilderness Society did their best to stop the logging of old growth,  working hard at public relations and fundraising. However, nothing seemed to stop those who were determined to build the road.  In 1989, the government resumed building the Red Squirrel Road through the newly developed Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park. Finally, the Society decided to set up a blockade at the Red Squirrel Road, the first of its kind in Eastern Canada. You can see the photos of the blockade in the photo section of this story. Today, Temagami is one of the remaining wilderness canoeing areas in the world, as logging and development continue to endanger these precious areas. In Ontario, we are lucky to have legislation and environmental groups to protect these precious landscapes and ecosystems. It is important for the next generation to keep it that way. Listen to the story to learn about the blockade, how Brian Back was buried in the ground, how former Ontario Premier Bob Rae (leader of the opposition at the time) was arrested, and learn what happened to Temagami and the Temagami Wilderness Society.