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Dear Friends,

While we are still in the OMB process, the hearing itself finished with closing arguments on Friday, October 7. Written submissions from the three lawyers – representing North Kawartha Township, Burleigh Bay Corporation, and FFW/Curve Lake First Nation – are due at the OMB on Friday, October 28. After that, the OMB Chair, David Lanthier, has warned that it will take some time to wade through all of the evidence and compose a decision. We expect it to be some months before we hear that decision.

In the meantime, we can update you on the final two weeks of the hearing which progressed in much the same way as the first two – extremely well! Time and again, FFW expert witnesses demonstrated a superior grasp on the Fraser property’s hydrogeological functions, its wetland ecology, its valuable habitat features and its identified species at risk. They were consistent in their ability to undermine the developer’s witness reports and to reveal the development plan to to be wholly unsuitable for the site and dangerous to the property’s sensitive ecology.

Our planning expert, Stephen Fahner, shone a bright light on a long list of planning issues, including a new, inadequate Environmental Impact Study produced just prior to the hearing, a deficient lake capacity study and the inappropriateness of a condominium corporation as an ownership model on a Provincially Significant Wetland Complex. Ontario’s former Environmental Commissioner, Gord Miller, testified that the property is a unique and important landscape “consisting of several hundred hectares of contiguous provincially significant wetlands.” Its location adjacent to two different eco-regions, in the “land between,” where granite meets limestone, makes it an area of particularly rich biodiversity upon which a large variety of species depend.

During the final, precedent-setting week, the hearing shifted to the community centre at Curve Lake First Nation and to issues of the Fraser Property’s cultural significance. It was the first time that an OMB hearing took place on a reserve and that Traditional Knowledge Holders were qualified to speak as experts.

At the end of the hearing, David Donnelly’s closing argument was inspiring and compelling, deftly weaving together FFW’s ecological issues and Curve Lake’s cultural interests – and all the more impressive for the fact that David had “popped” down to Toronto the night before for his about-to-be married daughter’s rehearsal dinner. Well done, David!

And now we wait.

Thank you to everyone who’s contributed to this extraordinary effort, including our lawyers, David and Anne, who capped their fees and provided countless hours of work pro bono; our expert witnesses who similarly agreed to limit their bills; the Friends who volunteered to billet our lawyers and witnesses; and those who provided daytime and evening meals to the team during the hearing.

No hearing summary would be complete without a special note about our Participants – the individuals and lake groups who spent countless hours composing their convincing statements and attended the hearing to present their arguments against the proposed development – and to defend them under cross-examination by the developer’s lawyer. This was an impressively effective group who raised a variety of credible issues. Their testimony added immeasurably to our case. We’re grateful for their support and their dedication.

John Huycke on behalf of the Association of Stoney Lake Cottagers (ALSC)
Jeffrey Chalmers on behalf of the Birchcliff Property Owners Association (BPOA) in Douro-Dummer Township
Ed Wood representing Woods Island, Burleigh Channel
Rachel Corbett
Lois Wallace on behalf of the Environment Council for Clear, Ston(e)y and White Lakes
Reid Brownscombe and Pat Bourne representing the Common Participant Statement, signed by 25 individuals and groups
Holly Blefgen
Cath Kirk and Scott Wootton, whose property borders the Fraser Property
Andrea Kale Marcus

Finally, we take very seriously our responsibility as financial stewards. We weigh carefully each and every financial decision we make and are confident that we are planning and managing your donated funds in the most effective way possible.

Four weeks ago we made an urgent financial appeal. In order to pay our higher than expected hearing expenses, we needed to raise more money. The response was wonderful, and as a result, we’re almost there!

If you haven’t already, please join us in this extraordinary effort to conserve the Fraser Property – an incredible natural and cultural landscape.

The FFW legal team from Donnelly Law at the end of the hearing: from left, Kristina Matveev, student-at-law, lawyers Anne Sabourin and David Donnelly, Rachel McPherson-Duncan, Victor Intern in Environmental Law.

The Fraser Wetlands: A Natural Investment
Conserving the wetlands has benefits beyond the obvious environmental ones. It is a significant investment in the local economy which relies heavily on recreational, tourist and seasonal support — which, in turn, is dependent upon a healthy environment.

We can’t do this alone! Help save this unique natural resource – essential contributor to lake water quality and immensely diverse habitat for a wide range of species, including the at-risk Blanding’s turtle.

Ways to Donate
FFW accepts cheques mailed to the address below and e-transfers to



The circle, above, shows the location of one of the proposed development’s common areas: a marina with 72 boat slips, car parking lot, boat trailer storage and beach directly across from a marina at Burleigh Falls and just down from the locks.

We’re at Curve Lake!

Today and everyday this week, the OMB hearing will take place at the Curve Lake Community Centre, 30 Whetung Street East, Curve Lake. 9:30 a.m. start each day!


Today (Tuesday, October 4), it’s FFW planning consultant Steve Fahner followed by Dr. James Conolly, Professor of Archaeology, and Canada Research Chair, Trent University.


Donating? Click here.

FRASER WETLANDS IN THE NEWS! Check out the coverage of Day One of the OMB Hearing:

Click here for the CHEX TV story and Here for the Peterborough Examiner piece.

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All in all, a good first week for FFW! 

• On the first day, FFW and Curve Lake First Nation lawyer David Donnelly introduced a motion to shift the hearing location from Wilson Park Community Centre in Woodview, ON, to Curve Lake First Nation during the days the Board will hear testimony concerning cultural heritage/archaeological issues.

After discussion about the logistics and scheduling involved in making the move, and suggestions on the part of the proponent’s lawyer that it would disrupt the flow of his expert witnesses testimony, the motion was granted. The hearing will shift to facilities at Curve Lake on Tuesday, October 4, 9:30 a.m. (We’ll update if there’s any change to this schedule.)

• It was also decided that Participant Statements would be read on Monday, September 26, 12:30 pm.

• The afternoon of the first day began with the developer’s planner, Peter Josephs of Ecovue Consulting Services in Peterborough, walking the board and gallery through the development plan with some focus on the size, nature and features of the property. 

• Mr. Josephs introduction was followed by the testimony of Chris Ellingwood, owner of Niblett Environmental Associates, Inc. of Lindsay, the developer’s environmental expert. Mr. Ellingwood testified that he had been studying the subject property for 20 years. The developer’s lawyer questioned Mr. Ellingwood until the following afternoon, when FFW lawyer David Donnelly began his cross-examination, which ran over to the following day. 

• Under cross examination, Mr. Ellingwood revealed a number of weaknesses in his assessment of the property and conceded that in terms of the 30 metre shoreline buffer – a much touted feature of the development plan that is designed to be left untouched with NO shoreline development or activity – “People will do what they want.” 

• Next up, the developer’s phosphorous  and lake capacity expert, Mike Varty, and the developer’s stormwater expert, Ken Smith, who was seemingly unaware that the property’s West Bay – an area of intense (proposed) development and a prime stormwater drainage area – is a provincially significant wetland. Mr. Smith also conceded that he hadn’t considered the effect of chemicals such as winter road salt or calcium chloride as a dust suppressant on the wetlands.

• Monday the hearing will commence at 2 pm in order to accommodate a scheduling conflict.

Stay tuned for details!




Now is the time!

We need your support. If you’re available, please join us at the OMB Hearing. Let’s send a strong message to the Ontario Municipal Board that wetlands matter! That water quality is essential. That our region’s cultural history is vital. See details below.



Here’s what’s at stake:

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Art by the Lake

You are invited to the FFW fundraising Art Auction*, Saturday, August 27th, 2016, Sunset Pavilion, Crowe’s Landing, Upper Stoney Lake, 1 – 5 p.m.

Come and feast your eyes on a fantastic array of art – wildlife, abstract, oil, acrylic, watercolour, photography, fibre, sculpture –  enjoy refreshments and snacks, and thrill to the music of world-renowned performers violinist Jeanne Lamon (Music Director Emerita, Tafelmusik) and Christina Mahler (Principal Cellist, Tafelmusik).


• Opening address by acclaimed artist Michael Dumas, a member of the international Artists for Conservation Foundation

75 pieces will be sold through silent auction

23 pieces will be sold via a live auction steered by  professional auctioneer Bob Rusland

We are grateful to all of the artists whose generous contributions are helping to fuel FFW’s efforts to conserve the Fraser Wetlands, and to our event sponsors for their generous support: Stoney Lake Market and Grill, Kawartha Park Marina, Classical 103.1 FM, ISL Insurance, Trans Canada Nissan, Lakefield Foodland.

* All money raised will go toward paying for FFW legal counsel and expert witnesses for the upcoming (September 13) OMB hearing concerning the proposal to develop the Fraser Wetlands. Your support is more important than ever!

Continue reading “Art by the Lake”

Emerald Summit: A Deep Dive into Water Issues

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We hope you’ll join us at Viamede on Sunday, July 24th from 3 – 5 p.m. for our second annual Emerald Summit: A Deep Dive into Water Issues featuring Dr. Ken Howard, renowned hydrogeologist and FFW water expert at the OMB, and Curve Lake Elders Doug Williams and Dorothy Taylor, founder of the Sacred Water Circle. FFW lawyer Anne Sabourin of Donnelly Law will be on hand for a Q & A. Refreshments and snacks will be served. No charge. Everyone is welcome!