Protecting the Niagara Escarpment � The Success Story of the by vmarcelo


									Stretching over 725 kilometres, the Niagara Escarpment is one of southern Ontario’s most
precious landscapes. It is home to over 300 bird species, 55 mammal species, 40 percent
of Ontario’s rare plant species and the oldest old-growth forest east of the Rocky Mountains –
the eastern white cedar forest of the Escarpment cliff face. For over 30 years, the
provincial government has sought to protect the Escarpment through
special legislation. Today, from Niagara Falls to Tobermory,
we can see the fruits of that effort.

   Protecting the
   Niagara Escarpment –
   The Success Story of the Niagara
   Escarpment Plan

       A World of Natural Wonders

   A     t its southern end, the special soils and climates of the Niagara Escarpment produce world-famous wines and Canada’s richest fruit
         orchards. Near its northern tip, off Tobermory, lies Flowerpot Island. In between is a world of natural wonders.
      Historically, because of the barrier presented by its cliffs, human settlement of the Niagara Escarpment area did not happen as quickly as
   settlement of the surrounding countryside. In the past century, physical restrictions have not hindered development on the Escarpment
   nearly as much. The result has been the loss of many special environmental features and natural areas. The threat to the Escarpment
   environment from development is cause for concern. The challenge for environmentally conscious citizens and organizations is to ensure
   that development is controlled so that the Escarpment’s natural features and functions remain intact.

       30 Years of Protection

   S   ince the early 1970s, the Ontario government has had in place a program that aims to protect the Niagara Escarpment from environmentally
       inappropriate land use and development. The centrepiece of this program is the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP). Adopted in 1985, it
   is Canada's first large-scale environmentally based land use plan. It was created under the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act
   (NEPDA), passed by the Ontario Legislature with all-party support in 1973.
      The purpose of the Act and the Plan is to protect the natural environment of the Niagara Escarpment and land in its vicinity. Only those
   land uses or developments which are compatible with the protection of the Escarpment environment are supposed to be permitted within
   the 183,694-hectare (453,724-acre) Niagara Escarpment Plan Area (see map on page 2).
      The NEPDA and NEP take precedence over all other provincial and municipal laws and regulations. They are administered primarily by
   the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC), a provincial agency whose responsibilities include issuing or refusing permits for development
   on the Escarpment.

   “The escarpment legislation, the plan and the commission represent one of the first
   efforts anywhere to tackle the issue of urban sprawl, long before it became an issue in
   many other parts of the province. Together, they constitute the first real ‘smart growth‘
   plan in the province.“ — NEC Chair Don Scott at the 30th anniversary of the Commission, November 6, 2003

Your Niagara Escarpment. Get to know it. Learn to love it. Decide to protect it.
                                                                                  T     he province’s program to protect the Niagara Escarpment was a
                                                                                        bold and ambitious initiative. Now, 30 years after the passage of
                                                                                  the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, we can gaze
                                                                                  across the Escarpment landscape and see many examples of the
                                                                                  Escarpment program’s success.
                                                                                      The Niagara Escarpment stands out as a unique feature of the
                                                                                  Ontario landscape – but not just because of its cliff face and rocky
                                                                                  slopes. Urban sprawl, which has rolled across much of the rest of
                                                                                  southern Ontario, has not taken over the Niagara Escarpment.
                                                                                      The Escarpment is a place where you can still gaze across a
                                                                                  landscape of cliffs, waterfalls, rolling hills, farms and countryside, and
                                                                                  visit quaint villages and hamlets. At night, the rim of the Escarpment
                                                                                  in the rural area is marked by darkness – a sharp contrast to the
                                                                                  assault of light that emanates from the streetlights and houses of our
                                                                                  suburbs and cities.
                                                                                      The boundary of the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area has become
                                                                                  more than just a line on a map. It has created an opportunity for
                                                                                  planners and residents to learn how best to live with the nature and
                                                                                  rural countryside that we want to protect – a true model for smart
                                                                                      In 1990, the Niagara Escarpment – thanks in large part to the
                                                                                  protective policies of the Niagara Escarpment Plan – was designated
                                                                                  a World Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational,
                                                                                  Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), joining such
                                                                                  distinguished company as the Florida Everglades, the Galapagos
                                                                                  Islands and the Serengeti Plains.
                                                                                      How well has the province’s Niagara Escarpment program fulfilled
                                                                                  its objectives over the past 30 years? To begin to answer this question,
                                                                                  the Niagara Escarpment Foundation, in partnership with the
Smart Growth Features of the Niagara Escarpment Plan                              Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment, commissioned five studies to
                                                                                  examine the on-the-ground impact of the Niagara Escarpment Plan
Smart growth is urban development that is contained within firm urban             in five key areas: the preservation of natural shorelines; the protection
boundaries, with compact, livable neighbourhoods that provide access              of farmland; the protection of forests and ecological corridors; the
to greenspaces, affordable housing and convenient public transit. It is           curbing of urban sprawl; and the enhancement of property values.
the solution to urban sprawl, which is low-density, car-dependent urban           This report highlights the findings.
development that expands urban boundaries out into the countryside,
consuming forests, wetlands and farmlands.
The Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP) promotes smart growth in many of
its policies and provisions. For example:                                          In 2001, the Coalition on the
• The very purpose of the NEP is to protect a continuous natural
                                                                                   Niagara Escarpment (CONE)
                                                                                   launched a program to celebrate
corridor and allow development only when it is compatible with the
                                                                                   the Niagara Escarpment’s status
Escarpment’s natural environment.
                                                                                   as a UNESCO World Biosphere
• Through its hierarchy of seven land use designations, each more
                                                                                   Reserve by erecting dozens of
environmentally protective than the one before, the NEP establishes as a
                                                                                   road signs at key entrance points
top priority the protection of the most environmentally sensitive lands.
                                                                                   to the Escarpment, welcoming
• The NEP protects rural areas from urban uses through strict polices for          visitors and residents alike.
the creation of new residential lots and through its prohibition on
residential subdivisions in the countryside. It also restricts rural commercial
                                                                                  91.7% of residents living in
land uses to those that primarily serve the rural community, especially
agriculture.                                                                      the southern portion of the
• The NEP specifically directs new urban-type land uses such as new               Niagara Escarpment feel
homes and most new commercial enterprises and institutions to existing            that it is important or very
urban areas of the Escarpment.                                                    important to them that the
• The NEP encourages and fosters interconnectivity of natural areas
                                                                                  Niagara Escarpment be
through the Escarpment Parks and Open Space System and the Bruce Trail.
• Implementation of the NEP by a single agency – the Niagara
Escarpment Commission (NEC) – is smart because it means consistent                (April 2003 Oracle Poll, conducted for
environmental protection across a long stretch of land covering many              Citizens Opposed to Paving the
                                                                                  Escarpment, of 1,200 voting-age residents
                                                                                  residing in the 11 provincial electoral
• There are good opportunities for public involvement in implementing             ridings from Halton to Niagara Falls. The
the NEP, such as people being allowed to speak for or against a                   poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.9%,
particular development at the NEC or before a hearing officer.                    19/20 times).
                                                       Preserving Natural Shorelines

     rom the tip of the Bruce Peninsula south to Wiarton, the                                                    Area, while only 3.6 km (3.3%) of shoreline inside the Plan Area
F    Niagara Escarpment Plan Area includes the shoreline of
Georgian Bay, one of the most beautiful shorelines anywhere on the
                                                                                                                 had been developed (see Figures 1 and 2).
                                                                                                                    There are reasons other than the existence of the Niagara
Great Lakes.                                                                                                     Escarpment Plan (NEP) to expect a higher percentage of new
   Undeveloped shoreline in the southern part of the Great Lakes                                                 development since 1974 outside the Plan Area. The shorelines inside
was already becoming rare by the time the Niagara Escarpment                                                     the Plan Area have a higher percentage of land owned by public
Planning and Development Act was passed in 1973, and development                                                 agencies; there is more shoreline located within provincially
pressures have continued since. More shoreline areas have been                                                   significant Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs); and
developed for cottages, permanent residences and commercial uses.                                                there is more shoreline that is undevelopable due to physical
In recent years, awareness has increased about the ecological                                                    characteristics. When public lands, ANSIs and undevelopable lands
significance of undeveloped Great Lakes shorelines and the special                                               on both the Lake Huron and Georgian Bay shorelines are excluded,
natural habitats associated with them. The importance of protecting                                              8.5% of the remaining shoreline inside the Plan Area has been
as much as possible of the remaining shoreline areas is now obvious.                                             developed since 1974, compared with 36.8% outside the Plan Area.
   In 2003, the Niagara Escarpment Foundation and the Coalition                                                     Therefore, the overall record of the Niagara Escarpment
on the Niagara Escarpment commissioned a study to evaluate the                                                   Commission and the Niagara Escarpment Plan in protecting and
effectiveness of the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP) in protecting                                                 conserving the natural environment of the Georgian Bay shoreline is
increasingly rare undeveloped Great Lakes shoreline. The study                                                   good. Inside the Plan Area, only two isolated cottages have been
compared and contrasted shoreline development in the Municipality of                                             permitted outside the Escarpment Recreation Area (where the Plan
Northern Bruce Peninsula along Georgian Bay, which lies inside the                                               directs cottage development to occur) and within provincially
NEP Area, and along Lake Huron, which lies outside the NEP Area.                                                 significant ANSIs since 1974. By comparison, outside the Plan Area,
   Shoreline development existing in 1974 was determined through                                                 over 4.3 km of shoreline within provincially significant ANSIs has
analysis of aerial photos, while the extent of shoreline development                                             been developed, much of it with shoreline cottage subdivisions, and
in 2003 was determined through aerial photos, on-site inspections                                                another five isolated developments have been permitted. Clearly, the
and municipal information.                                                                                       Niagara Escarpment Plan has been a much stronger tool for protecting
   The results showed that since 1974, 44.4 km (24.6%) of                                                        ecologically significant shoreline areas than municipal official plans
shoreline has been developed outside the Niagara Escarpment Plan                                                 and planning decisions have provided outside the Plan Area.

FIGURE 1                                                                                 FIGURE 2                                                         Bruce Peninsula shoreline
Increase in Great Lakes Developed Shoreline in the                                       Percentage of Shoreline Developed in the Municipality
Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula, 1974 - 2003                                    of Northern Bruce Peninsula, 1974 - 2003

                                              Inside the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area

                                              Outside the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area              Percentage of shoreline developed, 1974-2003

                                                            44.4 km

                                                                                                              3.3%                         24.6%



                                                                                                  Inside the                   Outside the
                                                3.6 km                                        Niagara Escarpment           Niagara Escarpment
                                                                                                  Plan Area                     Plan Area

Source: "An Analysis of the Effectiveness of the Niagara Escarpment Plan in Protecting Georgian Bay Shoreline within the Municipality of Northern Bruce
                                                                                                                                                                                              WILLY WATERTON
Peninsula Bruce County, Ontario" by Alan Ernest for the Niagara Escarpment Foundation and the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment, September 2003.

  Halfway Dump, Bruce Peninsula National Park                                                                                                                          RICHARD A. ARMSTRONG
                   Protecting Farmland

      he Niagara Escarpment Plan and the Niagara Escarpment
T     Planning and Development Act are not only about protecting
forests and other natural areas. Protecting farmland from
                                                                                 created per 1,000 acres outside the Plan Area versus 0.86 per 1,000
                                                                                 acres inside. In the Town of Caledon, the rate was more than double
                                                                                 at 2.43 new lots created per 1,000 acres outside the Plan Area as
development is also a primary objective.                                         compared to 1.09 per 1,000 acres inside. And in Lincoln, where
    The Escarpment boasts a vibrant agricultural industry. In the                there were no new lots created inside the Plan Area, the rate of lot
south, special soils and climates support a vibrant grape and wine               creation outside was a staggering 21.3 per 1,000 acres.
industry. Further north, the Beaver Valley grows more than one-quarter              These data demonstrate that the NEP and NEC have been more
of all of the apples in Ontario. Grey County is the second largest               successful than local planning controls in preventing the introduction
producer of beef in the province.                                                of non-farm residential uses and other urban uses into agricultural
    To keep these industries thriving, the Niagara Escarpment Plan               areas, thereby preserving the agricultural land base and protecting
contains several policies for protecting farmland. One of the most               the viability of the agricultural economy.
important is the restriction on lot severances.
    Lot severances are the primary way in which new homes are built                                                                                       Jersey Cow, Inglewood, Caledon

in rural areas. Inevitably, conflicts arise between new, non-farm
residents and the farmers trying to make a living off the land.
Complaints about noise, odours and other nuisances can make the
continuation of farming seem more and more difficult.
    Lot severances also carve up farmland into smaller and smaller
parcels, threatening the very land base on which the farming
industry relies.
    The Niagara Escarpment Plan places tight restrictions on the                                                    NIAGARA ESCARPMENT COMMISSION                                          SUSAN POWELL

creation of new lots in rural areas in order to protect farmland – and
                                                                                 FIGURE 3
it has been very successful.
                                                                                 Total lot severances on agricultural land, 1990 – 2000
    A 2002 study by Professor Wayne Caldwell of the University of
Guelph titled “Ontario’s Countryside: A Resource to Preserve or an                                                 Inside the Escarpment Rural Area of the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area*
Urban Area in Waiting?” found that there were 15,000 new lots                                                      Total across the municipality**
created in agricultural areas in 34 counties in southern Ontario
between 1990 and 2000.                                                                                                                                                218
                                                                                  NUMBER OF LOT SEVERANCES

    The Niagara Escarpment Foundation and the Coalition on the
Niagara Escarpment examined Professor Caldwell’s results for three                                                            173
municipalities with lands located partially within the Niagara
Escarpment Plan Area – the Town of Lincoln in Niagara Region, the
Town of Halton Hills in Halton Region, and the Town of Caledon
in Peel Region.
    In each of these areas, there were significantly more new building
lots created on agriculturally designated lands outside the Niagara                                          50                                      34

Escarpment Plan Area than on lands designated Escarpment Rural                                                                              6                    15
Area inside the Plan Area (see Figure 3). The larger number outside                                           0
                                                                                                                      Town of Lincoln   Town of Halton Hills   Town of Caledon
the Plan Area is expected, given the greater amount of agricultural
land. However, when the number of building lots on a per hectare                    *  Source: Review of lot severance files in municipal offices by CONE staff in the summer and fall
                                                                                       of 2003.
basis is calculated, the same trend holds true. In the Town of Halton               ** Source: “Ontario’s Countryside: A Resource to Preserve or an Urban Area in Waiting?“ by
Hills, the rate of lot creation was almost double, at 1.6 new lots                     Wayne Caldwell, University of Guelph, 2002.

Beaver Valley                                                Jordan Valley

                                            WILLY WATERTON           NIAGARA ESCARPMENT COMMISSION                                                                     NIAGARA ESCARPMENT COMMISSION
                       Protecting Forests and Ecological Corridors

      he Niagara Escarpment is famous for its large, intact forests.                     The results show a net increase in forest cover throughout the
T     Protecting these forests is critical to retaining the diversity of entire study area between 1974 and 2000. However, proportional
plant and animal species on the Escarpment. But protecting the gains in forest cover were much higher inside the Plan Area (21.5%)
forests themselves is only half the battle. To maintain healthy, viable than outside it (9.4%) (see Figure 4).
wildlife populations, the natural FIGURE 4                                            FIGURE 5                                          Also, only four hectares of
corridors between these forested Net percentage gain in forest cover,                 Percentage forest cover,                     forest was lost between 1974 and
areas must also be protected.       Township of Mulmur, Dufferin County               Township of Mulmur, Dufferin County 2000 in the corridors and
   The Niagara Escarpment and surrounding land, 1974-2000                             and surrounding land, 1974-2000 linkages areas inside the Plan
Plan was one of the first land         Inside the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area           Inside the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area   Area, compared to 95.5 hectares
use plans to recognize the             Outside the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area          Outside the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area
                                                                                                                                   (roughly the size of 200 football
importance not only of large,                                                                                                      fields) outside the Plan Area.
natural areas but also of natural                                                                                                      Due to the higher proportion
corridors between them.                  21.4% / 793 hectares                                                                      of good agricultural land and the
   In 2003, the Niagara                                                                                                            larger number of settlement areas
Escarpment Foundation and the                                                                               38.8%                  outside the Plan Area, it was not
Coalition on the Niagara                                                                                                           unexpected that the percentage of
Escarpment commissioned a                                                                                                          the landscape that was forested in
study to examine how effective                                                                                                     1974 was higher inside the Plan
the NEP has been in maintaining                                   9.4% / 707 hectares                              20.1%           Area (31.9%) than outside
and enhancing forests and                                                                                                          (18.1%). What is significant is the
ecological corridors.                                                                                                              much higher rate of reforestation
   To provide a valid basis for                                                                                                    that occurred inside the Plan Area
comparison between lands within                                                                                                    between 1974 and 2000. The
and outside the Niagara                                                                                                            percentage of forested lands
                                                                                             1974               2000
Escarpment Plan Area, it was Source: "An Analysis of the Effectiveness of the Niagara Escarpment Plan in Maintaining and Enhancing inside the Plan Area increased by
necessary to identify a study Natural Corridors and Linkages in Mulmur Township, Dufferin County, Ontario" by Alan Ernest for the 6.9% from 31.9% to 38.8%,
area where lands inside and Niagara Escarpment Foundation and the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment, December 2003.              while amounts outside the Plan
outside the Plan Area had similar landscape characteristics, land uses Area increased by only 2.0% from 18.1% to 20.1% (See Figure 5).
and levels of urbanization and/or development densities. Along most                      Much of the reforested areas have reduced gaps and forest
of the Escarpment, lands within the Plan Area tend to be fragmentation within both the Boyne River and Pine River corridors,
topographically distinct from surrounding areas, due in large part to strengthening and widening the linkages from these corridors to
the presence of the Escarpment slope. One exception is in the other natural areas. This is ecologically important as continuous or
central portion of the Escarpment in the Region of Peel and County almost continuous forested corridors are required for the movement
of Dufferin. There, the landscape both within and outside the Plan of many wildlife species. Likewise, some species need large blocks of
Area is characterized by rolling hills with frequent vistas and broad forest without gaps to survive. For example, in order to breed,
river valleys and very few exposed Escarpment outcroppings.                           several bird species require forest interior habitat located a minimum
   The Township of Mulmur in Dufferin County, and a small of 100 metres from the forest edge. Other species refuse to travel
portion of the immediate neighbouring municipalities, was selected across gaps in the forest and have a strong preference for wider
as the study area because it met                                                                                                   forested corridors.
                                      Boyne River, Dufferin Mills                                            RICHARD A. ARMSTRONG
these conditions, and it also                                                                                                          Generally speaking, larger
contains two broad ecological                                                                                                      forested core areas, wider corridors,
corridors – the Boyne River                                                                                                        more interconnections between
valley and the Pine River valley                                                                                                   forested areas, fewer gaps in the
– which cross the study area.                                                                                                      forest canopy, and less fragmentation
   Using 1974 aerial photography                                                                                                   are all desirable characteristics for
and 2000 satellite imagery,                                                                                                        enhancing habitat for many
changes in forest cover in the                                                                                                     species-at-risk and for improving
study area were measured for                                                                                                       the long-term health of the
lands inside and outside the                                                                                                       ecosystem as a whole. The results
Niagara Escarpment Plan Area.                                                                                                      of this study show that in the
Other factors that affect the                                                                                                      Township of Mulmur, the
ecological health and habitat            In the study area,                                                                        Niagara Escarpment Plan is
quality of natural areas and             as a percentage                                                                           helping to achieve such an envi-
corridors – such as fragmentation                                                                                                  ronment on the Escarpment to a
by other land uses, gaps in forest       of 1974 forest cover,                                                                     higher degree than are local
cover and encroachment of                the forested area inside the Plan Area has                                                planning controls.
development – were also examined.
                                             increased at more than double the rate found
                                             outside the Plan Area.
                                         Stopping Urban Sprawl

                cross much of southern Ontario, land in the countryside is
          A     gradually being paved over as urban areas spread outwards.
          This is urban sprawl.
                                                                                   policies and provisions of the
                                                                                   Niagara Escarpment Plan, and
                                                                                   the Commission itself opposed
             Several rapidly expanding communities are on or near the              seven of them. In contrast, all
          Escarpment: Grimsby, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Milton,             but two of the 14 applications
          Georgetown and Orangeville, to name just a few.                          had support from at least one
             The Niagara Escarpment Plan recognizes two types of urban areas       municipal government.
          within its boundaries: Minor Urban Centres and Urban Areas.                 The review also found 13                                JASON THORNE

             Urban Areas are primarily established, larger urban centres such      applications that sought to expand urban boundaries or introduce
          as St. Catharines, Hamilton and Owen Sound.                              urban uses onto one or both of the two most protective land use
             Minor Urban Centres are rural settlements, villages and hamlets.      designations in the Niagara Escarpment Plan – the Escarpment
          Thirty-three Minor Urban Centres were identified when the NEP            Natural Area and the Escarpment Protection Area. Six were withdrawn.
          was approved in 1985, and three more have been added since then.         All of the remaining seven applications were opposed by the NEC
          The boundaries of Minor Urban Centres are established through the        and ultimately refused. However, six of the seven applications were
          municipal planning process. The NEC is involved in this process          supported by the lower-tier municipality and five of seven were
          and can appeal the municipal establishment of a Minor Urban              supported by the upper-tier municipality.
          Centre’s boundary to the Ontario Municipal Board, if it believes the        From the history of applications to urbanize Escarpment lands
          proposed boundary violates the purpose and objectives of the             emerges an important conclusion – it takes more than just the strong
          Niagara Escarpment Plan.                                                 policies of the Niagara Escarpment Plan to protect the Escarpment
             Once established, the boundary of either an Urban Area or a           over the long term. It also requires an agency dedicated to
          Minor Urban Centre can be expanded only through an amendment             implementing those policies. That function is served well by the
          to the NEP. Some of the most intense development pressures               Niagara Escarpment Commission. Municipal governments, appeal
          within the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area have involved proposals to       tribunals and even Cabinet have deviated from the policies of the
          expand Urban Areas and Minor Urban Centres.                              Niagara Escarpment Plan when it comes to controlling the incursion
             In 2003, the Niagara Escarpment Foundation and the Coalition          of urban land uses into the Escarpment countryside. As the results
          on the Niagara Escarpment commissioned a study to examine how            of this study show, the NEC’s track record has been much more
          proposals to expand Urban Areas and Minor Urban Centres have             consistent, although not infallible.
          been addressed under the NEP and through the broader planning            Source: “A Review and Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Niagara Escarpment Plan Regarding
                                                                                   Proposals to Expand Urban Areas and Minor Urban Centres“ by Alan Ernest for the Niagara
          process. All 149 of the applications to amend the NEP that had been      Escarpment Foundation and the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment, January 2004.
          received by the NEC between the approval of the NEP in 1985 and
          September 19, 2003 were reviewed.                                          Are landowners paying the price or reaping the rewards
             Twenty-eight applications were found that would directly or             for Escarpment protection?
          indirectly expand the boundaries of Urban Areas or Minor Urban
                                                                                     The Niagara Escarpment Plan has resulted in strong protection for the
          Centres within the Plan Area. Of these applications, 14 proceeded
                                                                                     forests, streams, wetlands and wildlife habitat of the Escarpment. But
          to a decision, eight were ultimately approved by the provincial            what has been the impact on the people who live there?
          Cabinet, and six were refused.
             The Niagara Escarpment Commission has proven to be more                 In 2003, the Niagara Escarpment Foundation and the Coalition on the
                                                                                     Niagara Escarpment commissioned a study to examine the impact of the
          consistent in seeking to prevent urbanization of Escarpment lands
                                                                                     Niagara Escarpment Plan on property values in one part of the
          than have local municipalities.                                            Escarpment in Dufferin County.
             Of the 14 applications that proceeded to a decision, NEC staff
          recommended against nine of them because they did not meet the             Sales of vacant lots inside the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area and
                                                                                     outside the Plan Area were compared for the period January 1, 1999
Millcroft Housing Estate, Appleby Line                               KATHY MILLS     to June 1, 2003. The study sample was controlled for differences in size
                                                                                     of lots and other attributes. The study found that vacant lots inside
                                                                                     the Plan Area sold for prices between 8% and 32% higher,
                                                                                     depending on size, than similar lots outside the Plan Area.
                                                                                     While not necessarily indicative of the effect of the Niagara Escarpment
                                                                                     Plan on values of all types of properties across the entire Escarpment, this
                                                                                     study provides an interesting new perspective on the true impact of the
                                                                                     Plan protections on property values.

                                                                                     Over 1/3 of all of the real estate listings within the Niagara
                                                                                     Escarpment Plan Area commented positively on the proximity to
                                                                                     the Bruce Trail or public parkland.
                                                                                     Source: “A Comparative Analysis of Land Values Within and Adjacent to the Niagara
                                                                                     Escarpment Plan Area, Dufferin County, Ontario“ by Alan Ernest for the Niagara Escarpment
                                                                                     Foundation and the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment, July 2003.
                                        The Next 30 Years

                 he results of the studies described in this report provide a      development pressure on the Niagara Escarpment is only going to
          T      glimpse of the success of the Ontario government’s program to
          protect the Niagara Escarpment.
                                                                                   increase in the years to come.
                                                                                      More than seven million people live within 100 kilometres of the
              The track record has been far from perfect. Every year, there are    Escarpment. In many ways, the protection that the Escarpment has
          instances of development applications being approved that violate        enjoyed for the past 30 years has only made it more attractive for
          the policies of the Niagara Escarpment Plan. Some violations are         development. Its wide open spaces and
          minor; some are significant.                                             large natural areas make it a prime
              The Niagara Escarpment Plan itself also contains several             location for prospective new resorts,
          shortcomings. The Plan still allows for aggregate operations (pits       golf courses or urban expansions.
          and quarries) and golf courses in the Escarpment Rural Area, and            Fortunately, 30 years ago, the
          policies to protect water resources are relatively weak.                 provincial government recognized the
              But overall, the Niagara Escarpment Plan and the Niagara             fragility of this natural corridor and
          Escarpment Commission have been successful in protecting the             took action by passing a law and then,
          Niagara Escarpment.                                                      12 years later, adopting a land use plan
              This success can be seen through the studies described above.        to protect it. Provincial governments
          And, most importantly, it can be seen on the ground, as you hike the     of every political stripe since then have
          Bruce Trail, drive along a country road, or gaze out from one of the     kept those protections in place.
          Escarpment’s famous scenic lookout points.                                  The Niagara Escarpment Plan and
              Much more work needs to be done to quantify and monitor the          the Niagara Escarpment Commission                         JASON THORNE

          results of the Niagara Escarpment program. Unfortunately, little         are the best hopes for protecting the Escarpment long into the
          monitoring is being undertaken by the provincial government to           future. We can look back now and celebrate 30 years of success. But
          gauge the success of its own program. For example, there has been        we must also prepare for many more years of ongoing vigilance to
          little or no research to determine whether the protection that the       make sure that those protections remain in place and that they are
          Escarpment has enjoyed has resulted in healthier wildlife populations,   implemented consistently. It is the only way we can be assured that
          better water quality, or higher quality of life for its residents.       the Escarpment we see and love today is still there for future
              This monitoring is needed now more than ever, because                generations to enjoy.

View of the Escarpment from the Pinnacle Lookout, Rattlesnake Point                                                                                  JASNA HOLJAK
Published by the Niagara Escarpment Foundation, Spring 2004.

The Niagara Escarpment Foundation and the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment would like to thank the
George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation and the McLean Foundation for their generous financial support
for this project.

We would also like to thank the following individuals for their contributions to preparing this report: Bob Barnett,
Robert Boraks, Alan Ernest, Linda Pim, Jason Thorne and the staff of the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

Additional Photo Credits:
p. 1, 3, 5, 7, Richard A. Armstrong; p. 2, Dirk Heinze; p. 4, 6, Niagara Escarpment Commission

Layout and design by Claire Christie
Printing by CJ Graphics

The following studies have provided source material for this report. They can be downloaded free of charge at (Niagara Escarpment Foundation) or (Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment).
• Ernest, Alan, July 2003. A Comparative Analysis of Land Values Within and Adjacent to the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area, Dufferin
County, Ontario. (Niagara Escarpment Foundation and the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment).
• Ernest, Alan, December 2003. An Analysis of the Effectiveness of the Niagara Escarpment Plan in Maintaining and Enhancing Natural
Corridors and Linkages in Mulmur Township, Dufferin County, Ontario. (Niagara Escarpment Foundation and the Coalition on the
Niagara Escarpment).
• Ernest, Alan, September 2003. An Analysis of the Effectiveness of the Niagara Escarpment Plan in Protecting Georgian Bay Shoreline
within the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula Bruce County, Ontario. (Niagara Escarpment Foundation and the Coalition on the
Niagara Escarpment).
• Ernest, Alan, January 2004. A Review and Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Niagara Escarpment Plan Regarding Proposals to
Expand Urban Areas and Minor Urban Centres. (Niagara Escarpment Foundation and the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment).

      Old Baldy in Kimberley                                                                                                                                       WILLY WATERTON

      Find out how YOU can help protect the Escarpment. Order your copy                                                                                    Stay informed!
      of CONE’s 104-page book, Protecting the Niagara Escarpment: A Citizen’s                                                             Sign up to receive CONE’s e-mail
      Guide. It brings together in one place, for the first time, all the basic
                                                                                                                                       Escarpment bulletins and/or quarterly
      information about the Niagara Escarpment, describing the land use
      planning controls in place to protect the Escarpment and how
                                                                                                                                             On The Edge newsletter. Contact
      landowners and citizens can get involved in its protection. Just                                                                    CONE at (519) 853-4955 or visit
      $10 including shipping and handling. To order, contact                                                                        
      CONE or order on-line at

                               Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment

                               The Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment (CONE) was founded in 1978. It is an umbrella organization that brings together over 30
                               conservation groups and thousands of individuals. CONE acts as a watchdog for environmentally inappropriate land use on the
                               Niagara Escarpment, works to ensure the Escarpment is protected through legislation and other means, and undertakes educational
                               activities to heighten public understanding and appreciation of the Escarpment.
                               During its 25-year history, CONE has successfully blocked several attempts to open up Escarpment lands for urban development and
                               advocated for stronger protections and improvements in the Niagara Escarpment Plan. In 1995, CONE won the Lieutenant Governor
                               of Ontario’s conservation award, recognizing excellence in environmental protection and resource conservation. In 2003, CONE was
                               honoured by the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association with its first Spirit of the Biosphere award in recognition of CONE’s longstanding
                               commitment to the principles of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve.
                               Many people care deeply about the future of the Niagara Escarpment. Individually, it’s difficult for us to have an impact on land use
                               planning decisions. But by supporting CONE, we can work together, as one voice, to keep the Niagara Escarpment green and protected.
                               Contact CONE at P.O. Box 389, Acton, Ontario, L7J 2M6, (519)853-4955,,

                               The Niagara Escarpment Foundation

                               The Niagara Escarpment Foundation (NEF) was formed in 2002 by the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment to undertake research and
                               educational programs to promote awareness of the Niagara Escarpment. It is a registered charity.
                               Contact the NEF at P.O. Box 389, Acton, Ontario, L7J 2M6, (519) 853-4955,,

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