Midhurst Secondary Plan



The Nottawasaga Steelheaders, a volunteer group of anglers, conservationists and concerned residents, have been working with The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority and Ministry of Natural Resources to improve, rehabilitate and preserve the integrity of various tributaries of the Nottawasaga River watershed over the past twenty years. Over this time we have removed numerous barriers to fish migration, undertaken countless garbage pick-ups, tree plantings, stream bank stabilizations, cold water delivery projects, spawning ground improvements and commitments to ensure the survival of wild species in this watershed and protect this watershed’s sensitive inter-dependent ecology.

What is the Midhurst Secondary Plan or MSP?

The Midhurst Secondary Plan (MSP) and the preferential “Special Rule” to developers

  • The Midhurst Secondary Plan allows for construction that will grow Midhurst from a small town of 3500 to a “city” of approximately 30,000. (Equivalent to the size of Orillia)
  • The proposed construction is outside boundaries for development established by the Provincial Places to Grow Act, 2009.
  • Then Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli (now Minister of Energy) by ministerial rule, after a strong sales pitch and lobby by MLG (Midhurst Landowners Group) created a “Special Rule”. This group is a major landowner wishing to cash in on their land purchases.


  • Sales pitch letter from MLG Developers to Minister Bob Chiarelli


  • Development process has proceeded via a Class Environmental Assessment meant for routine developments, not for developments of this size with potential impacts on a major watershed and wetland. (The EA is limited in its scope – No studies on Minesing Wetlands or main river downstream of Willow Creek discharge.)
  • The developer talks about increased jobs and income to the surrounding area and the Township of Springwater…but at what cost?!
  • 300 hectares of prime farmland will be sacrificed in Phase One.

With regards to Midhurst Secondary Plan, The Nottawasaga Steelheaders as Stewards of the River and Watershed, Have Major Concerns

The Subdivision Addiction and Disappearing Farmland

  • Fact. Most good paying jobs exist in the GTA, not in Midhurst, Barrie or Springwater.
  • The developer only pays a small fraction of necessary infrastructure costs.
  • In order to pay for the costs, taxes must be increased.
  • In order to pay the costs more subdivisions must be built. The major good jobs in the area are in the construction of more subdivisions. The development addiction continues (just the way the developer wants it) as we pave over disappearing farmland. We are becoming more dependent on other countries for our food.

Erosion of our Health and Quality of Life

  • Expansion of highways (6 Lanes to 8 lanes) to accommodate commuters from Midhurst to Toronto and back.
  • In excess of 60 minute commute, one way just to the tip of Toronto.
  • It will contribute to the deterioration in the quality of our lives and social & family fabric with long commutes, increased stresses, health impacts, increased greenhouse emissions and absence from our families.

Carrying Capacity Unsustainable

  • Sprawl is creating pressures on our lives and our environment.
  • In Biology we use the term “Carrying Capacity” to appreciate the ability of an area to support species.
  • The Midhurst Secondary Plan does not meet the Carrying Capacity for all species including humans, for so many reasons.
  • The points mentioned here are a just a few as they relate to the environment and their subsequent impact to eco-balance, watershed homeostasis and further recreational and financial impacts.

Artificially Augmented & Increased Flow & Contaminants Threaten Delicate Eco-balance & Homeostasis of the Nottawasaga River – Fish and Other Species at Risk

  • The Nottawasaga River contributes 35-40% of migrating Chinook salmon to Georgian Bay and Lake Huron (Recent Studies 2012 from U of Western Ontario and Michigan) and the largest run of wild migratory rainbow trout or steelhead.
  • These salmonids depend on sensing particulate flow (in PPM) in the river to home in on essential nursery habitat and specific tributaries.
  • Over decades, they have developed sensitive co-adaptive gene complexes to enable them to survive and spawn in these tributaries. From a study undertaken by our organization and the University of Guelph, 18 distinct strains of Steelhead exist in the Nottawasaga River each with its own set of co-adaptive gene complexes which govern their migrational abilities.
  • Artificial changes in flow due to development contributions could threaten this migration by lowering or augmenting particulate composition and draw. There is no action plan to address this from the Environmental Assessment. The largest run of wild steelhead (migratory rainbow trout) in Georgian Bay and Lake Huron come from the Nottawasaga River (estimations of 20,000 run of steelhead from the Pine River, alone).
  • Nottawasaga Steelheaders and other anglers have noticed major changes in migration habit of steelhead due to heavier weed growth in the lower end due to factors such as climate warming, phosphate and nitrogen contributions from run-off and development.

Financial Impact to Important Recreational Fishery

  • A Healthy Nottawasaga River Contributes to the $7 Billion Great Lakes Sport and Recreational Fishery – shared by both Canada and the US.
  • These fish are known to migrate through-out the entire Georgian Bay and Lake Huron basins. (Recent U of Western Ontario studies)
  • Nottawasaga Steelheaders and other anglers have noticed major changes in migration habit of steelhead due to heavier weed growth in the lower end due to factors such as warming and phosphate and nitrogen contributions.
  • Theses changes have reduced the quality of angling opportunity in the Nottawasaga River as our angler membership and participation has observed over the past decade.
  • This impacts the draw to the watershed and its communities by anglers and has resulted in reduced monies spent in the region. Many anglers are no longer vacationing and angling this watershed due to poor catch quality and experience that has deteriorated over recent years. Supportive angling shops in the area have closed and motels no longer get repeat anglers.

Threatened and Disappearing Species

  • Rare Shallow Wetland Spawning Walleye have all but disappeared from the Notty due to deterioration of their spawning habitat in The Minesing Wetlands (37% decrease in Riparian cover!)
  • Great Lakes sturgeon have been heightened to a level of Threatened Species due to deterioration in their habitat. The Nottawasaga River is a major spawning watershed for them. Their late spawning age and deterioration of important water quality put them further at risk.
  • Recent reports from the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority list the number of fish species in the Nottawasaga River to at least 75. Their numbers are in jeopardy.
  • WWF Recent Report (2014) shows a 52% decrease in wildlife from 1970 to 2010 with fresh water species being the hardest hit at 76%!!
  • http://www.worldwildlife.org/blogs/science-driven/posts/the-living-planet-report-alarming-trends-and-a-path-forward

Pressures from Land Use Change and Development are Killing the Notty

  • The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority has determined (2013) that major lower sections of the Nottawasaga River have deteriorated significantly.
  • Phosphate levels in the Nottawasaga River are poor in many areas due to many factors including sewage and run-off contributions. Provincial “stream” requirements (0.03mg/L) are not appropriate for the Nottawasaga River which is more akin to a lake (slower flow) of 0.02mg/L. Developers are not taking the lead in striving for the future best and not “just what is adequate by law”. A law that is correct is not necessarily right. Certainly not just.
  • Recent U of McMaster ongoing multi-site studies (August 2014) show lower sections below the Minesing Wetlands, have No or Very Low dissolved Oxygen levels!!!

Financial Impact to Important Recreational Industry

  • Wasaga Beach has recently been acknowledged as a “Blue Flag” or exceptionally clean and healthy beach that is enjoyed by countless recreational users and draws a huge number of tourists from across the country.
  • This draws in millions of dollars to the area. The Nottawasaga River flows into the bay of this world renowned beach. Because of prevailing winds, water from the river, algae and their subsequent impacts, wash onto the beach. Changes that occur in the river will inevitably impact the beach and wildlife. This includes contaminants, chemicals and phosphorus levels.
  • Already, dead fish, birds and wildlife are washing ashore due to poor water quality!

“Emerging Contaminants” Threaten Us! Waste Water Treatment Plants are Unable!

Transgendered Fish Found Below Waste Water Treatment Plants

  • Waste Water Treatment Plant requirements and governments are woefully out of whack with today’s knowledge and awareness of the detrimental and dangerous effects of untreatable contaminants,
  • Emerging contaminants including pharmaceuticals, nano particles (including nano silver) and pesticides cannot be removed by waste water treatment plants. Recent studies by the University of Waterloo have found “trans-gendered” fish (Male fish with eggs) below Waste Water Treatment Plants on the Grand River.
  • The Midhurst Secondary Plan will create a waste water treatment plant that will empty into the sensitive Minesing Wetlands via Willow Creek!!

Super Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found Below Waste Water Treatment Plants

  • Researchers in Michigan have found potentially dangerous “drug resistant” super bacteria below Waste Water Treatment Plants.

“Treatment plants do a fine job of removing most pollutants”, said Jeff Cowels, and environmental engineer who used to oversee treatment plants for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, “but they’re ill-equipped to get rid of so-called “micro-constituents” like pharmaceuticals, pesticides and nano-particles”.

“And we just don’t know what’s happening to them once they enter the system,” Cowles said.”It’s reminiscent of the 1950’s when DDT was going into the environment. We just assumed that it was going away, but it wasn’t going away.”

Minesing Wetlands’ Critical Tree Cover has Decreased by 37% Since 1953. Sensitive Ecology and Flood Protection is at Risk

  • The narrow scope of the Environmental Assessment for the MSP fails to consider the impact on the nearby Minesing Wetlands and downstream impact on the watershed
  • An important and delicate “interdependent” biodiversity exists in Willow Creek which is critical to the Minesing Wetlands and the entire Nottawasaga River watershed and all its species, flora and fauna.
  • The Minesing Wetlands is a RAMSAR, World Recognized Wetland and ANSI, Provincially Significant Wetland
  • The Wetlands are crying for help. Riparian forest cover has shrunk by 37% since 1953 due to many factors including human encroachment, land use changes and development!! (From recent 2014 NVCA Report – Go to Page 19).
  • Note: A pro-development NVCA board has kept this important report hidden.
  • http://www.nvca.on.ca/PublishingImages/Pages/AgendaMinutes/Agenda-May%2023%202014.pdf
  • The Minesing Wetlands are also a major a known shock-absorbing safety buffer to downstream flooding. Risks due to flooding and incidents of flooding are increasing globally, due to climate change. Many residences downstream on the Notty are in the flood plain!


Cut and paste this message below to Kathleen Wynne in the box on her website!!

Dear Premier Wynne:

Please reverse the “Special Rule” with regards to the Midhurst Secondary Plan.

It represents favouritism to a few and does not represent the best plan for the majority of people in Midhurst, Springwater and in Ontario. The people of Ontario elected your government because they believed you fairly represented the people of Ontario. Please do not disappoint us. Please review important reasons on the Nottawasaga Steelheaders website.


Thank you for caring and for doing the right thing.

Link to Premier Kathleen Wynne:


Call Premiere Wynne:

(416) 325-1941