Ontario Chapter

At Sierra Club Ontario, our work mainly focuses on protecting the Great Lakes ecosystem, growing and protecting the Greenbelt, and promoting Green Energy adoption in Ontario. Sierra Club Ontario also works on very local issues, in coordination with smaller communities in Ontario.

Claremont residents on two sides of possible development

Kristen Calis
Pickering News Advertiser
Date published: 
Wed, 06/03/2015

DURHAM -- More than 200 residents in Claremont want to see a piece of the Oak Ridges Moraine remain protected in the hamlet.

The Claremont Conservation Group is not pleased with the City’s recommendation that the Province allow opportunities for minor expansions of hamlets into the Greenbelt or the Oak Ridges Moraine. They believe this change could pave the way for a development on the northeast quadrant of Claremont that’s been discussed for decades, but hasn’t budged due to provincial land use restrictions......

Peter Rodrigues, a Whitevale resident and former councillor, felt recommendations by Ajax, which is also providing comment for the review, were in line with his thoughts.

“I’m mostly concerned with including more land into the Greenbelt, particularly the headwaters of the Carruthers Creek,” said Mr. Rodrigues.

Pollinator Progress at Heart Lake Conservation Area

Earlier this June we partnered with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) to host a Pollinator Party at Heart Lake Conservation Area. The weather was great and we were thankful to have the 19 volunteers from Peel region who helped with light gardening and maintenance at the Medicine Wheel Garden and meadow plots.

Before we began work on the gardens the Four Colors Drumming Circle hosted an Aboriginal Drumming Ceremony and storytelling session to welcome spring and educate people on the features of the Medicine Wheel Garden (Gitigaan Mashkiki). It was a really neat experience which engaged everyone and connected us to the work we were about to do.

Leaders Promise a 40% Reduction of Phosphorus in Lake Erie by 2025


By: Alyssa Beurling


Beginning in the 1960’s as a result of algal blooms and nutrient management issues, Canada and the US began collaborating efforts to reduce the underlying problem - elevated phosphorus concentrations within the Great Lakes (GL), and Lake Erie in particular (Hill, 2015). This soon led to the creation of the federal Clean Water Act and the Canada-US Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) which set specific phosphorus targets and improved lake conditions into the mid-1990’s (Government of Canada, 2014).

Ontario Passes Regs to Protect Pollinators


By Kristina Jackson


This month Ontario passed the first North American regulations on neonicotinoid pesticides that are tied to pollinator loss. “Neonics”, as they are often called, are a synthetic pesticide first created in the 1980’s and quickly expanded to become the most common pesticide used on crops worldwide. Neonics mimic naturally occurring insect repellants found in nicotine but the frequency and intensity of current use has been proven to kill bees, butterflies, earthworms and a variety of other insects.

Make Toronto into World's Coolest City: Turn White Belt into Forest

While Toronto may be famous for having green life veins flowing through its heart of forested ravines, the city is surrounded by a vulnerable mass of farmlands leased by developers and the federal government, (as a reserve for the Pickering Airport)  for cash cropping that is termed “the White Belt.”  While some may romantically call these lands a “food belt”, in reality most is used for grains grown for industrial feed stocks including bio-fuels or to dangerously fatten livestock in their last weeks of life for unhealthy  “marbling.”

Grow the Greenbelt - We've Submitted Comments on the 2015 Coordinated Review!

The commenting period for the 2015 Coordinated Review is now closed but Sierra Club of Canada Foundation has made a submission in support of Greenbelt growth and expansion.  Below is a summary of the submission.  

Moratorium on Expansion of Urban Development

At this opportunity to review the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Sierra Club asks the Province to consider a 10-year moratorium on expansion of urban development boundaries, in order to direct growth into increased density and cease the paving over of our fertile agriculture lands and treasured natural areas.


Urban River Valley Designation

Grow the Greenbelt: Add Carruthers Headwaters Protection


Sierra Club of Canada Foundation is working with Peter Rodrigues (former Pickering Regional Councillor, Ward 3) to protect the Carruthers Creek Headwaters which run through Pickering. The letter below was submitted to Richard Stromberg from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and reflects the work being done to rally support for the protection of the Carruthers Creek Headwaters.

GROW THE GREENBELT IN DURHAM -- Protect Carruthers Creek Headwaters

Heartlake Pollinator Party - June 6, 2015!

Come join us at Heart Lake Conservation Area in Brampton on Saturday, June 6th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m!

Learn about the Conservation Area, pollinator plants, and the Gitigaan Mashkiki Medicine Wheel Garden!

Help remove invasive plant species and plant native wildflowers.  Activities also include a guided nature walk and Aboriginal teachings.


For more information or to RSVP please contact our staff at ontariochapter@sierraclub.ca

Digging Into Spring!

This past weekend we had a great time planting trees and shrubs in an area of Erindale Park in Mississauga as a part of our Natural Capital Program. Following a quick planting demonstration by Credit Valley Conservation, around 50 enthusiastic participants worked for over three hours (in glorious sunny weather) to get 250 plants in the ground.

Mohawk Environmentalist Speaks Out For Greenbelt


Unusual for the participants in the Ontario government’s 2015 Co-Ordinated Review of the Growth Plan, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan is the perspective of the Mohawk environmentalist, Danny Beaton. (Turtle Clan, Six Nations).

At the Caledon session on March 26th, Beaton took part in a panel with the Sierra Club representative Dan McDermott, Robin Garret, of the Greenbelt Foundation and myself. Here he stressed that all the prime agricultural land in Ontario should be protected from development. This would require a dramatic expansion of the Greenbelt. 

Greenbelt Survives Niagara Meeting

In St. Catharines a meeting was held for the provincial plan review for the Ontario Greenbelt on April 15th, and was attended by about 350 people. This large attendance was quite important, since the meeting attracted around 80 opponents of the Greenbelt. They were led by landowner leader, Austin Kirby, who asked those who shared her perspective to indicate by applause. Her signed briefing note left at one of the tables recommended that they should “gather round one table to gain more attention.”

Abolish White Belt

One of the key weaknesses in the reformed land use planning system in Ontario that was developed around 2005 and is now subject to review through public meetings is the planning black hole known as the “White Belt.” This is an area between the Greenbelt and the edge of the urban area boundaries in Hamilton, Halton Region, Peel, York and Durham Region. On these lands urban boundary expansions can take place through every five years, instead of the ten plus protected through the Greenbelt.

The only Regional government around the Greenbelt not to have a White Belt is Niagara. This situation has arisen since one of the chief objectives for the Greenbelt here is to protect Niagara’s unique tree fruit growing lands.

Calling all Waterfront Lovers

Since its creation in 1992 the Waterfront Trail strives to connect urban and rural areas, and reconnect people to their communities and Great Lakes Waterfront. The Waterfront Trail serves as the linkage between over 405 parks and natural areas including wetlands, forests and beaches and stretches across 1400 km of shoreline from the eastern border of Ontario to the northwest (2). Over the years the trail has become a local favorite for leisure and recreation and is a place where people can go to reconnect with nature.

Locally, Toronto and Durham Region have made (and continue to make) a number of improvements for enhanced accessibility along their portions of the Waterfront Trail. A lot of work has gone into creating and enhancing trail segments, and now many neighboring communities are working collaboratively to link their sections for increased functionality.

We've Submitted a Response on the Great Lakes Protection Act!

Official Submission to the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR):

Sierra Club Ontario Chapter and the SCCF Great Lakes Committee support the GL Protection Act [GLPA] because the proposed legislation creates significant new legal and policy tools to protect Ontario’s portion of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.   This Act is timely because the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem shows signs of deterioration with particular reference to persistent chemicals, habitat and wetland loss and increasing nutrient load.  The proposed Great Lakes Protection Act represents a positive step, but like all enabling legislation it requires adequate funding support and thorough, transparent evaluation of its effectiveness through regular review.

Natural Capital Project Update: Planting in Paradise

Our bioswale project was created in response to water quality issues affecting residents and visitors to the Ajax waterfront.  In recent years, as a result of contaminated run-off, the Town of Ajax and its residents have had limited access to swimmable water and beaches and the bioswales are a perfect solution!

The structure of these bioswales resembles a rain garden and is designed to control storm water, reducing the amount overflowing onto the beaches. The bioswale mimics wetland processes by providing a planted area of trees and shrubs which will absorb and filter storm water as it is slowed by the soil and root systems of the plants—for free! This is a great way to enhance the waterfront and naturally filter contaminants like automotive run-off and road salts, while restoring the environment.

Protecting Niagara’s Waters By Expanding Ontario’s Greenbelt Protection Area

This article posted in Niagara At Large was written by John Bacher, who works with Greenbelt Program team at Sierra Club of Canada Foundation. The article depicts the darker side of urban sprawl and pollution on watershed quality, and how stopping urban sprawl is an imperative step in protecting our waters. Read the article here.


The provincial government is hosting a series of public consultations for the review of the province’s land use plans.  So if you love the Greenbelt and want to protect our waters, now is the time to attend a Town Hall near your to voice your opinions.

For more information on the review process please visit the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website.

Join us for a spring garbage cleanup!

Join us at Paradise Park in Ajax on May 2nd for a spring garbage clean-up (See map for details)! This is a great opportunity to enhance your community and waterways, care for the environment and see some of the great restoration work being done at Paradise Beach.

High-school students earn volunteer hours- must bring your own form!!


***To participate, please register here***