South Shore Joint Initiative Fall Symposium attracts large and enthusiastic crowd

An enthusiastic crowd filled Picton Town Hall Saturday November 30 for the South Shore Joint Initiative Fall Symposium.  The symposium was a daylong event focussed on gaining input from participants about the many recreational uses of the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block and the Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area.  Three speakers inspired the crowd. 

Les Stanfield took us from the very origins of the geology of the County 176 million years ago to the present day with emphasis on the uses of the South Shore by indigenous tribes and European settlers.  That geology and subsequent glacial scraping resulted in the karst geology of the South Shore making it poor faming land, but excellent habitat for wildlife. Les explained how the South Shore areas were used for defence training and aerial bombing practice during and after the second world war and how ultimately the area was developed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources as a hunting and fishing resource.

Dr. Graham Whitelaw from Queens University offered a change of pace by describing how organizations can effect change in ecosystem planning.  He talked about the Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine and explained how the citizens’ groups involved worked to assure protection of these unique areas.  By describing a careful four step process starting with goal setting and emphasizing a flexible, inclusive and adaptive approach to reach that goal Dr. Whitelaw helped the participants to see the way forward towards ensuring protection for Ostrander Point Crown Land Block and Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area.

In the afternoon Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC) Mark Stabb treated us to a brief survey of the two new NCC properties on the South Shore.  The Hudgin-Rose Property and the Brodeur property bookend Ostrander Point Crown Land Block, share the same habitat types and species including several species at risk.  NCC hopes to enlist local people in a species at risk project in the area to identify, monitor and list species and suggest ways to protect and enhance their habitat.

Then it was the participants’ turn to get involved.   Everyone was asked to suggest other ways to reach out to other groups and individuals providing a fully inclusive campaign to protect the important public areas.  A “big map” project allowed everyone to indicate their uses, hopes and dreams for Ostrander Point and Point Petre NWA.  The lists created will help to inform SSJI’s on-going efforts to protect the public lands.

SSJI president John Hirsch was very pleased with the day “we had a great turn out and learned some very important and new things” he commented “Les, Graham and Mark gave us the inspiration and information we need as we move forward to speak with the Minister of Environment Conservation and Parks about the importance of protection for the last undeveloped land on the north shore of Lake Ontario”