The Oak Ridges Steering Committee (Toronto Council Subcommittee on the Oak Ridges Moraine) has completed its mandate and is no longer active. The following information is provided for archival purposes.
What is it and why does it matter to Toronto?
The Oak Ridges Moraine is one of the most significant landforms in southern Ontario. The moraine gets its name from its rolling hills and river valleys extending 160 kms from the Niagara Escarpment to Rice Lake and was formed 12,000 years ago by advancing and retreating glaciers.
The moraine contains the headwaters of 65 river systems (35 in the GTA alone) and has a wide diversity of streams, woodlands, wetlands, kettle lakes, kettle bogs and significant flora and fauna. It is one of the last remaining continuous green corridors in southern Ontario: it is still 30 per cent forested and is one of the last refuges for forest birds in all of southern Ontario.
The moraine's sands and gravel deposits act like a giant sponge absorbing rain and snow melt. This underground water is then stored through layers of sand and gravel (aquifers), filtered and slowly released as cool fresh water to the 65 rivers and streams flowing north into Lakes Simcoe and Scugog and south into Lake Ontario. The greatest threat to the function of the moraine is inappropriate land uses on and below the surface of the moraine, particularly in headwater areas.
Toronto City Council has recognized the importance of preserving this valuable part of our natural heritage. The moraine crosses many regions and local governments must take the total impact of any proposed development into consideration. The province has also recognized the importance of the moraine and needs to take more responsibility in protecting this critically important eco-region.
The moraine's treasures of native plants, birds and animals depend on us to save their natural habitats.
Moraine significance extends beyond its boundaries
The City believes the province needs to create new policy, act, or regulation to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine which is one of the most significant landforms in Ontario.
The moraine is a regionally significant natural feature that forms the northern boundary of the Toronto bioregion. The headwaters of all of the watersheds in Toronto originate in the moraine.
Development on the moraine will have significant effects on areas beyond its boundaries
including: the overall health and quality of life in the region; ecological and biological diversity; groundwater, water quality and quantity
within the watersheds of the region; definition of development areas in the Greater Toronto Area.
The red trillium enjoys the cool, forest floors of the Oak Ridges Moraine.
There is an overwhelming need for a comprehensive approach to preserve and protect the
moraine. Following an expression of provincial interest in the moraine in 1990, Implementation Guidelines were released in 1991. However, a 1994 report The Oak Ridges Moraine Area Strategy for the Greater Toronto Area was never implemented.
Preserving the Oak Ridges Moraine for future generations
Toronto City Council is working with a number of conservation organisations, local residents and other municipalities to support protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine, one of the most unique landforms in southern Ontario. The city also asks our provincial and federal governments to join in efforts to preserve this fragile ecosystem for future generations.
This leopard frog depends on the moraine's kettle wetlands and lakes, which provide a green oasis for a variety of plants and animals.
The moraine is one of the last remaining continuous green corridors in southern Ontario. It is still 30 per cent forested. Its 130 wetlands, unique kettle lakes and century old wood lots are home to more than 900 species of plants; it is also one of the last refuges for birds and animals in southern Ontario.
Toronto City Council recognises the importance of preserving this valuable part of our natural heritage. The moraine's native plants, birds and animals depend on us to save their natural habitats from development.
City Council formed the Oak Ridges Steering Committee to protect the moraine from development. Toronto residents can get involved by calling their councillors, MPP's and MP's to ask for their help in protecting the moraine. Residents can also find out more background on the moraine by visiting such web sites as www.stormcoalition.org and www.ontarionature.org
Oak Ridges Steering Committee
(Toronto Council Subcommittee on the Oak Ridges Moraine)
||Councillor David Miller
Message from the Chair