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Hunting season for wolves and coyotes is now open - help ban wolf snaring!

 

Wolves and coyotes are only protected year-round in 4 buffer zones around provincial parks where the majority of threatened Algonquin wolves have been found. Elsewhere, they are shot opportunistically and trappers remain active all winter with no limits to the amount of wolves they can kill. The most commonly used wolf trap is the strangling snare, recently deemed inhumane by researchers

 

Take action to ban cruel and non-selective strangling snares!

 

Province maps out new nature and farm protection for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

 

TORONTO, July 6, 2017 – This afternoon the Province took an important step towards better protecting nature and farming across the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) with the release of regional plans for a Natural Heritage System and Agricultural System. The plans are an important step towards protecting and recovering biodiversity and supporting healthy, thriving rural communities, especially in an era of climate change.

The Natural Heritage System plan identifies a network of forests, rivers and wetlands that provide essential habitat for wildlife. “We’re thrilled to see the Province step up and lead this important mapping exercise,” says Joshua Wise, Ontario Nature’s Greenway Program Manager. “However, important habitats in regions such as Wellington and Waterloo are not adequately represented in the draft plan. This needs to be fixed.”

The proposed natural heritage system builds outward from the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Greenbelt Plans. “Linking these natural heritage systems is the key to creating a more resilient, healthy landscape,” says Debbe Crandall, Save the Oak Ridges Moraine (STORM) Coalition’s Policy Director. “I am concerned, however, that the proposed linkage areas connecting the core natural habitats are much too narrow – only 500 metres wide. By comparison, linkage areas in the Oak Ridges Moraine are as wide as two kilometres. The corridors are critical placeholders. Once identified, they would be protected from urban development, and would present opportunities for ecological restoration and stewardship over time.”

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Ontario commits $85 million to clean up ‘gross neglect’ at Grassy Narrows

Generations sickened by mercury poisoning prompt province to agree to fund cleanup.

Water flows in the Wabigoon River that is contaminated with mercury near Grassy Narrows.

Water flows in the Wabigoon River that is contaminated with mercury near Grassy Narrows.  (TODD KOROL / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)  

By DAVID BRUSER News Reporter
ROBERT BENZIE Queen's Park Bureau Chief

JAYME POISSON News reporter

 


 

"The mercury contamination still plagues these Indigenous communities in northern Ontario. Recent key findings by the Star, environmental group Earthroots and top scientists have shown high levels of mercury in soil, fish and river sediment — all strongly suggesting the site of the mill is still leaking mercury, about 50 years on."

 

 

The Ontario government is committing $85 million to finally clean up the mercury-contaminated Wabigoon River that has poisoned the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation and nearby Whitedog First Nation for generations.

The “comprehensive remediation action plan” will also involve finding all contaminated sites that could be leaking mercury into the river.

At Queen’s Park, Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray did not mince words.

“If you ask me when would I like to have done this? Fifty years ago,” Murray said in an interview Tuesday. “I have never seen a case of such gross neglect. I am embarrassed as a Canadian that this ever happened and I can’t understand how people for 50 years sat in that environment office knowing this was going on as a minister and simply didn’t do anything about it,” he thundered.

The province’s historic commitment follows a Star investigation that probed the impact of the poisoning and decades-long lack of action by government.

The Ontario government is committing $85 million to finally clean up the mercury-contaminated Wabigoon River that has poisoned the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation and nearby Whitedog First Nation for generations.

The “comprehensive remediation action plan” will also involve finding all contaminated sites that could be leaking mercury into the river.

At Queen’s Park, Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray did not mince words.

“If you ask me when would I like to have done this? Fifty years ago,” Murray said in an interview Tuesday. “I have never seen a case of such gross neglect. I am embarrassed as a Canadian that this ever happened and I can’t understand how people for 50 years sat in that environment office knowing this was going on as a minister and simply didn’t do anything about it,” he thundered.

The province’s historic commitment follows a Star investigation that probed the impact of the poisoning and decades-long lack of action by government.

The mercury contamination still plagues these Indigenous communities in northern Ontario. Recent key findings by the Star, environmental group Earthroots and top scientists have shown high levels of mercury in soil, fish and river sediment — all strongly suggesting the site of the mill is still leaking mercury, about 50 years on.

Read the full story in The Star.

The Province’s coordinated land use review is on the right track, but questions remain

Bolder action needed to grow the Greenbelt, protect species at risk and halt urban sprawl for good

 

After a 26 month review, the Government of Ontario is generally heading in the right direction with updated policies that govern the Oak Ridges Moraine, Greenbelt, Niagara Escarpment and growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), but some key missteps indicate a questionable commitment to the long-term protection of the region’s water, nature and communities.

The coordinated review has been coloured by a dramatic attempt by the development industry to misrepresent the Greenbelt’s role in limiting housing supply and increasing prices. This came to a head last week when provincial planner Victor Doyle squashed the misinformation campaign. “The Oak Ridges Moraine and Greenbelt have increased the prosperity of those living within the GGH,” remarks Joyce Chau, Executive Director of EcoSpark. “I hope today’s announcement marks an end to this inaccurate rhetoric. The government needs to step up and get to the important task of growing the Greenbelt to protect vulnerable water supplies that are threatened by development pressures in communities like Simcoe and Brant County.”

Disappointing policy changes in the Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine include significantly weakening protections for the habitat of endangered species. “We are taken aback that policy safeguards for our most vulnerable plants and animals were removed,” says Dr. Anne Bell, Ontario Nature’s Director of Conservation and Education. “On one hand we’re pleased the government has committed to protecting the Greater Golden Horseshoe’s natural heritage system. On the other hand, if the policies don’t protect species at risk in the Oak Ridges Moraine and Greenbelt, where is there left for those species to go?”

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The Town Where Mercury Still Rises

The New York Times

By SUSAN GOLDBERG

 

"The government didn’t initially act on the claim in the 2015 Glowacki email that additional mercury had been stored in drums. Volunteers from the environmental organization EARTHROOTS and reporters from The Toronto Star in the fall of 2016 took a dozen samples from the site identified by Mr. Glowacki; three came back with levels of mercury up to nearly 80 times expected levels for soil in the region."

 

Photo credit: freegrassy.net

Read the full article below or visit The New York Times.

 

GRASSY NARROWS, Ontario — “About 15 years ago, I started to drop things,” Steve Fobister recalled. “I couldn’t work on cars the way I used to. I couldn’t play hockey or baseball — I couldn’t hold a stick or a bat. My knees would just buckle. I started choking a lot.”

Today, Mr. Fobister, 64, needs a walker to move around his small house in the Grassy Narrows First Nation, an Ojibway reserve about an hour northeast of Kenora, Ontario. Like almost all of the 950 or so residents of Grassy Narrows, Mr. Fobister suffers from the effects of mercury poisoning. For much of our conversation, he had to support his jaw with his fingers because of the joint weakness and pain mercury can cause.

“I have memory loss,” said Mr. Fobister, a former chief of Grassy Narrows. “I have no feeling in my feet. My legs and skin feel like they’re burning. My hearing is going. I’m a walking drugstore: I take about 16 pills a day to control seizures, pain, depression.”

Mercury poisoning among the people of Grassy Narrows was first discovered in the early 1970s by Japanese researchers. From 1962 to 1970, a paper mill owned by Reed Paper, a company in nearby Dryden, dumped more than 20,000 pounds of raw mercury into the English-Wabigoon River system. Fish from those waters provided the main source of protein downstream in Grassy Narrows. By the time the contamination was discovered — and the community’s commercial fishing industry shuttered — residents had consumed dangerous quantities of fish.

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Terry Graves: northern warrior dies

Terry Graves“Canada has lost a great eco-warrior, an unsung hero of the front line environmental movement - Terry Graves...friend, compatriot, father, husband. Terry was the co-founder of the Temagami Wilderness Society (now Earthroots, Toronto), in 1986. Terry, unlike many well-known activists, had candor, selfless passion and humility and fought the good fight for all the right reasons. Terry knew life and love and will be well missed.”

- Hap Wilson, Earthroots Director

The nemesis of three Ontario premiers and one Toronto mayor, northern environmental activist Terry Graves died last night after a five-year bout with cancer.

For almost three decades he fought for the environment, including leadership in two of Canada's biggest environmental battles: Temagami and the Adams Mine landfill.

"Graves was a 'fixer' like the George Clooney character in the film Michael Clayton," wrote Charlie Angus in his book Unlikely Radicals. "In a world of hard-asses, Graves was as hard as they come."

Graves made the Adams Mine Coalition presentation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2000. Toronto's bid for the 2008 Olympics died on impact. 

"I like a good fight," he once said.

This time it was a fight he didn't win.

Story courtesy of ottertooth.com

ACTION ALERT: Stand up for the Greenbelt and stop sprawl for good!

Decisions on the future of the Greenbelt are about to be made...

The Premier and Cabinet are about to make final decisions on the updated Oak Ridges Moraine, Greenbelt, Niagara Escarpment and Growth Plans.  They have a big choice to make; protect water sources, sensitive natural areas, and farmland in and around the Greenbelt or allow developers to pave over these areas for years to come.

Sign our petition here and urge the government to stand up for the Greenbelt and stop sprawl for good.  The decisions made now will have a lasting impact for our water, nature and communities.

Growth Plan Loopholes Allow Sprawl in Rural Communities

Oak Ridges Moraine sprawl natural system loss of wetlands forest and fields

Photo: Bill Lishman

A new Neptis Foundation report raises the alarm that major loopholes in the Government of Ontario’s proposed Growth Plan would make rural communities a focus of growth, wreaking havoc on the water, nature and communities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH). These changes would allow decades-old style of sprawl in over 400 rural towns, villages and hamlets – including many within the protected Greenbelt. Around 31,200 hectares of farmland, natural habitat and rural areas (equivalent in collective size to Mississauga) would come under threat from low-density, car-dependent development.

“This goes against the spirit and intent of the Province’s Growth Plan and its promotion of complete communities,” says Joyce Chau, Executive Director of EcoSpark. “These rural settlement areas were specifically excluded by the Province from the built boundary where growth should not occur because of a lack of servicing.”

The proposed Growth Plan creates a loophole where sprawling greenfield developments could be manipulated to count as intensification. The intent of the Growth Plan is to direct major growth to areas with existing roads, sewers and other major infrastructure in the GGH.

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Ontario ‘completely committed’ to mercury cleanup at Grassy Narrows

First Nations chief says Premier Kathleen Wynne has promised action and “wants to get the ball rolling.”

Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister Sr. Fobister has been fighting to have the mercury-contamination of his people addressed for more than 40 years, after a Dryden paper plant dumped 10 tonnes of mercury into the English-Wabigoon River system between 1962 and 1970.

Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister Sr. Fobister has been fighting to have the mercury-contamination of his people addressed for more than 40 years, after a Dryden paper plant dumped 10 tonnes of mercury into the English-Wabigoon River system between 1962 and 1970.  (TODD KOROL / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)  

By JAYME POISSON News reporter
DAVID BRUSER News Reporter

 

Nearly five decades after mercury was dumped in the river upstream from their home, the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation have received a clear provincial commitment to clean up the potent neurotoxin that has been making them sick.

Environment Minister Glen Murray and Indigenous Relations Minister David Zimmer said in a statement Monday they were “completely committed” to finding areas near Grassy Narrows contaminated with mercury and creating a plan to clean it up. That includes a “full and rigorous” assessment of the site of the old paper mill upstream where the Star recently found mercury-contaminated soil.

“Mercury contamination has had a profound impact on the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation and Wabaseemoong (White dog) Independent Nations, and has to be properly addressed,” the ministers said.

“We are completely committed to working with all partners to identify all potentially contaminated sites, and to creating and implementing a comprehensive remediation action plan for the English-Wabigoon River (system).”

Scientists are ready to get to work on the northern Ontario watershed this spring, as soon as weather permits.

The province’s commitment follows a Star investigation that probed the impact of the poisoning and decades-long lack of action by government.

Late last week, Premier Kathleen Wynne met with Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister Sr. and environmentalist David Suzuki, who has been calling for a cleanup of the river system.

Fobister said Wynne told him the old mill site, and the river, would be cleaned. “She wants to get the ball rolling and get the work budget in place and get this thing done,” he said.

Fobister, who called Monday’s commitment “historic,” has been fighting to have the mercury-contamination of his people addressed for more than 40 years, after a Dryden paper plant dumped 10 tonnes of mercury into the English-Wabigoon River system between 1962 and 1970. The site of the plant, now under different ownership, is about 100 kilometres upstream from Grassy Narrows.

Coincidentally, Fobister, 61, is travelling to Minimata, Japan, on Tuesday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of an industrial mercury disaster that began poisoning the Japanese in the 1950s. A photograph of his brother protesting over the mercury-contamination of Grassy Narrows hangs in a museum there.

Monday’s joint statement from Murray and Zimmer said that, in light of new information of potential mercury contamination, the province is now conducting a “full and rigorous mercury contamination assessment on the entire mill site.” (A spokesperson for Domtar, the company that now owns the land, said the company has also volunteered to pay for some additional sampling by independent experts.)

Last month, the Star published a story detailing how two reporters and volunteers from environmental group Earthroots dug holes in a clearing behind the old mill and found significantly higher-than-normal levels of mercury — nearly 80 times the level expected to be found in soil from that region of the province. The spot where the Star found contaminated soil is near where a former mill worker said he was part of a crew that “haphazardly” buried drums filled with salt and mercury in the 1970s.

The province says it is taking its lead on cleanup efforts from a team of scientists, led by mercury expert John Rudd, who have been advising Grassy Narrows.

Read the full story in The Star.

Earthroots helped Grassy Narrows achieve a major milestone!

Ontario commits to cleanup of mercury contamination near Grassy Narrows First Nation

Cabinet ministers promise First Nations-led cleanup effort of decades-old mercury contamination

By Jody Porter, CBC News

Research released in September 2016 shows more than 90 per cent of the population at Grassy Narrows First Nation is experiencing symptoms of mercury poisoning.

Research released in September 2016 shows more than 90 per cent of the population at Grassy Narrows First Nation is experiencing symptoms of mercury poisoning. (Jody Porter/CBC)

The Ontario government is promising to find and remediate all the mercury contamination that continues to poison people at Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations in the northwestern corner of the province.

"We are completely committed to working with all partners to identify all potentially contaminated sites, and to creating and implementing a comprehensive remediation action plan for the English Wabigoon River," said a statement issued Monday from the minister of environment and the minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation.

The announcement came after a meeting on Friday between Premier Kathleen Wynne, Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister and environmentalist David Suzuki.

Mercury was dumped in the river that flows through the two northwestern Ontario First Nations by Reed Paper, upstream in Dryden, Ont., in the 1960s and early 1970s. Recent scientific reports show the water is still contaminated.

More than 90 per cent of the population at Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations show signs of mercury poisoning, according toresearch released in September by Japanese experts who have been studying the health of people there for decades.

'Historic commitment'

"I welcome this historic commitment and I am eager to work to make this promise a reality so that my people can enjoy our culture and our homeland in health again without fear of an invisible poison," Fobister said.

"When our fish are safe to eat, we will know that his promise has been kept."

The First Nations have been calling for a cleanup for more than 40 years and were recently joined by some of the world's leading scientific experts on mercury remediation.

Read the full story and listen to Up North - Province commits to cleaning up decades-old mercury in Grassy Narrows here.

Evidence of poisonous mercury dump found upstream from Grassy Narrows

Earthroots volunteers find contaminated soil in area of reported mercury dump

Gord Miller, former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and Earthroots Chair, calls on the government for a comprehensive survey of the entire former mill site for mercury contamination.

 

Toronto – Earthroots has found evidence of a poisonous mercury dump behind the Dryden paper mill, upstream from the Grassy Narrows First Nation where many people suffer from mercury poisoning. A soil sample from the site collected by Earthroots volunteers contains hundreds of times the level of mercury found in a nearby uncontaminated site. The location is within the circle drawn on a map by Kas Glowacki, a former mill worker, to show where he buried 50 barrels of mercury and salt haphazardly in a pit behind the mill in 1972.  Mercury is a potent neuro-toxin that damages the brain and nervous system.

"The presence of a mercury hot spot confirms the need for a comprehensive survey of the entire former mill site for mercury contamination sites. Any such mercury deposits represent an ongoing threat to human health and the ecosystem," said Gord Miller, Board Chair of Earthroots, an environmental group, and former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.

This key evidence comes to light shortly after the Wynne government told the legislature on November 23rd that “We have completed very extensive tests... and found there are no barrels buried and there is no source [of mercury].”  Grassroots volunteers for Earthroots, an environmental group, found the contaminated soil in a weekend excursion using a hand held metal detector. 

"The government has dismissed this eye-witness report of an improper toxic dump, but we know a proper site investigation has not been done if a small group of untrained volunteers finds contaminated soil on a weekend survey," said Gord Miller.  "It's time to end this shameful saga and finally do the right thing by cleaning up the English-Wabigoon River and its watershed once and for all."

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Mercury-tainted soil found upstream from Grassy Narrows First Nation

Star reporters and volunteers from Earthroots took soil samples from behind an old paper mill, 100 kilometres upstream from Grassy Narrows, which revealed significantly elevated levels of mercury.

 

By JAYME POISSON News reporter
DAVID BRUSER News Reporter

 

DRYDEN, ONT.—The Star and volunteers from an environmental group have found mercury-contaminated soil upstream from Grassy Narrows First Nation.

Over several weeks this past fall, first the volunteers from Earthroots and then reporters from the Star dug a dozen holes and took soil samples from a site behind an old paper mill, then had them analyzed by a lab. Soil from three holes contained significantly higher-than-normal levels of mercury.

“There is more than enough of a smoking gun to require a full investigation,” said Gord Miller, Ontario’s former environmental commissioner and the chair of the Earthroots group.

When presented with the findings, the province told the Star it takes them “seriously” and will work with the current landowner to determine if more tests are needed.

Mercury contamination, a serious health risk, has plagued the indigenous community in northern Ontario for decades. Dangerous and persistently high levels of mercury in the sediment and fish in the river system suggest there is an ongoing source, but the province has denied the possibility that the site of the old mill — 100 kilometres upstream from Grassy Narrows — could be responsible.

The samples were taken from an area circled on a map by retired mill worker Kas Glowacki, who said that in 1972 he was part of a group who “haphazardly” dumped drums filled with salt and mercury into a pit behind the mill.

Click here to watch the video and read the full article on The Star's website.

ADVISORY: Evidence of poisonous mercury dump found upstream from Grassy Narrows

Toronto – Earthroots has found evidence of a poisonous mercury dump behind the Dryden paper mill, upstream from the Grassy Narrows First Nation where many people suffer from mercury poisoning. A soil sample from the site collected by Earthroots volunteers contains hundreds of times the level of mercury found in a nearby uncontaminated site. The location is within the circle drawn on a map by Kas Glowacki, a former mill worker, to show where he buried 50 barrels of mercury and salt haphazardly in a pit behind the mill in 1972. Mercury is a potent neuro-toxin that damages the brain and nervous system. This key evidence comes to light shortly after the Wynne government told the legislature on November 23rd that “We have completed very extensive tests... and found there are no barrels buried and there is no source [of mercury].” Grassroots volunteers for Earthroots, an environmental group, found the contaminated soil in a weekend excursion using a hand held metal detector. 

PRESS CONFERENCE:  Earthroots will reveal how they found mercury contaminated soil behind the Dryden mill where a former worker reports burying 50 toxic barrels.

WHERE:  Queen’s Park Media Studio, Toronto, ON.

WHEN:  Friday January 13th, 11:30 AM

WHO:  Gord Miller, former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and current Earthroots Board Chair.

Contact: 647-550-7882

High resolution photos and B-roll available. #FreeGrassy