The Oak Ridges Moraine (Moraine) provides many benefits to southern Ontario, one of its’ most important being that it provides drinking water to over 250,000 people. Stretching 160 kilometres from the Trent River to the Niagara Escarpment, the Moraine’s ecological functions are extremely critical to the environmental health of the region, which is why the way its’ land and water is used is extremely important. Protection of the environmentally precious Moraine goes back many years, however, it wasn’t until May of 2001 that the Provincial Government began to recognize that in order to protect the Moraine from increasing residential, industrial, commercial and recreational pressures, legislation was going to be necessary.

On May 17, 2001, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing introduced the Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Act. The Act established a six-month suspension of development on the Moraine to allow the Government to consult on how to best to protect it in the future.  Following the passage of the Act, an Advisory Panel of key Moraine stakeholders was developed to advise the Minister on how best to move forward.

Following a series of stakeholder and public consultation meetings, the Minister announced a comprehensive strategy for the Moraine on November 1, 2001. This strategy included the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, which was passed on December 13, 2001, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP) and the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation (ORMF). 

The purpose of the ORMCP is to provide land use and resource management planning direction to provincial ministers, ministries, agencies, municipalities, municipal planning authorities, landowners and other stakeholders to protect the Moraine’s ecological and hydrological features and functions. It is the regulatory tool meant to protect, preserve and restore the Moraine.

The ORMF is a non-regulatory governing body meant to complement the goals of the ORMCP. Established on March 11, 2002, the ORMF was given an initial grant of $15 million from the Provincial Government to support stewardship, education, research, land securement and trail projects across the Moraine. Between 2002 and 2008 the ORMF distributed in excess of $14 million in grants and leveraged, in collaboration with Moraine partners, an additional $35.8 in funding for 177 projects.  

 Although the ORMF’s granting role is currently suspended, we remain dedicated to protecting the Moraine and still have a very important role to play. The ORMCP is scheduled for review in 2015 and the ORMF is committed to compiling the reports and information necessary to ensure the Moraine is continuously protected. Currently we have formed a strategic partnership with the Conservation Authorities Moraine Coalition to examine the effectiveness of the ORMCP. Together, the efforts of both the ORMF and the CAMC will help the Province to make informed decisions about any changes required to the ORMCP to ensure it continues to protect and enhance the environment and water resources on the Oak Ridges Moraine.

Further reading:

The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act



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