Oshawa MPP Jennifer French is joining local advocates in calling for the source of Carruthers Creek to be added to the Greenbelt.
“The Ford Conservatives are refusing to listen to the people of Durham who are calling for the protection of Carruthers Creek Headwaters,” said French, a member of the NDP, in a statement Monday. “If we allow the Carruthers Headwaters to be paved over, we will see Durham homes flooded again and again.”
Lakeridge Health is planning to set up a new hospital in Durham, and a number of municipalities have been seeking to be the home of it. The City of Pickering is pitching a plot of land in its north end, located on Concession Road 7, near Salem Road.
Advocates have petitioned against the proposed location, citing its closeness to the headwaters. “This land is home to some of the richest soil in Canada, native flora and fauna, large groundwater recharge areas, and neighbours the Greenbelt,” reads the petition by Ally Zaheer. “This area, unlike others, is not designed to support urbanization, and does not have the infrastructure to do so.”
Chief Kelly LaRocca of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) has weighed in. “We need a balanced approach to development that respects Indigenous people and lands as well as the environment,” she said in an October 27 statement. “Without proper consultation and mitigation strategies we ignore the democratic process, destroy the environment and fail future generations.”
That same day, Provincial NDP Leader Andrea Horwath joined activists in Ajax, making an early election pledge to add the headwaters to the Greenbelt.
French also took aim at her counterpart in Ajax, who served as environment minister for just under 12 months in 2018 and 2019. “Rod Phillips, the MPP for Ajax, broke his promise to get this done,” she said. “And today [Monday], Doug Ford’s ministers brushed off our questions, and refused to make any commitments.”
Phillips responded over Facebook on November 10. “Over the past few months, as I’ve been knocking on doors and talking to residents here in Ajax, the issue of flooding at the south end of Carruthers Creek has come up a few times,” he said. “I support the idea of putting the Carruthers Creek Headwaters into the Greenbelt. I have spoken to the the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing about the importance of this for our community and will continue to advocate on behalf of Ajax.”
Provincial Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner has also called for the headwaters to be added to the Greenbelt. “Giving developers the greenlight to pave over the wetlands is a direct invitation for flooding disasters,” he said. “The region is already threatened by flooding and the Carruthers Creek watershed is already under severe stress.”
Image courtesy of Google Maps Street View