Raise Your Voice to save what’s is left of the wonderful, wild places in our Niagara watershed

Help save Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls, Ontario from developers’ buzz saws! Sign the Petition below.

Posted July 17th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

An Introductory Message from Doug Draper, environment writer, publisher, Niagara At Large

Niagara At Large is pleased to post the necessary links to a very important petition now being circulated far and wide in social media circles, urging Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and her government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government and other political leaders to save some 500 acres of forested lands, provincially significant wetlands, and savannah grasses in our Niagara River watershed before it is too late.

This special place – known now to growing numbers of people in and outside the Niagara region who care about conserving what’s left of our natural places as Thundering Waters Forest – is being targeted for urban sprawl by China government linked developers and, shamefully enough, by all too many municipal politicians in this region who want us to buy the bunk that gutting what is left of our wetlands in this region is necessary to show the world we are “open for business.”

They try to pass this kind of  destructive, unsustainable planning off as a “balanced” approach to land use and anyone who opposes it is smeared as a “special interest.”

Well, the special interest in this case is growing numbers of ordinary citizens from this and surrounding regions who know that there are plenty of other places inside our existing urban boundaries where investors from here or China or anywhere else can build without mowing down ever more of our woodlands and encircling and potentially smothering to death the five or so per cent of the wetlands we have left in Niagara.

Inside Thundering Waters Forest

Our many readers on the American side of the Niagara River should join in the campaign to save Thundering Waters too. It is located, after all, in a Niagara River watershed that has been identified for decades by environmental agencies in both countries and the International Joint Commission as an “Area of Concern” under the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement – a pact that was negotiated under the umbrella of a Boundary Waters Treaty the two countries signed more than a century ago.

This land was also once the territory of our Indigenous people and, by rights, should be returned to them to protect and preserve for generations to come.

So congratulations to Emily Beth Spanton, a concerned resident from St. Catharines, and to the many others who have posted this petition and have been circulating it on social media. As of July 17th, hundreds of people have already signed it, and I hope the number will soon range into the thousands, and even tens of thousands.

Remember my fellow citizens, if we don’t act. … . If we don’t stand up for what’s left of our natural heritage in this region. …. if we let them destroy it, we will NEVER get it back.

Future generations may praise us or damn us, depending on what we do or do not do NOW!

So please read what the authors of this petition have written below, and click on the link to lend your voice to the message being sent to our provincial and federal leaders to save this precious natural place we share with our American neighbours in the in the Niagara River watershed BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

NOW here is the wording and a link to place your name on the petition.

Dear Supporters

Did you know that one of Canada’s most unique habitats is at risk of destruction? The Thundering Waters Slough Forest in Niagara Falls, Ontario is a 484 acre old growth Carolinian forest located within the UNESCO Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve, only an hour south of Toronto, and is under threat of extensive development.

(Here – immediately below  – is a video worth clicking on and watching as you are reading along.)

Even though Carolinian Canada is quite small compared with other Canadian vegetation zones, making up only 1% of Canada’s total land area, it boasts a greater number of both flora and fauna species than any other ecosystem in Canada. Thundering Waters contains a high diversity of native species and a variety of habitats including globally endangered savanna, vernal pools, and wetlands.The role of vernal pools and swamp lands is to assist with the natural regulation, and cleansing of, our watershed. Despite recent flooding in the Great Lakes basin and the Niagara watershed, there are currently no plans to mitigate the effects of the loss of this important floodplain.

220 acres of the 484 acre site are Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSW), and protected through Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), however these protections are not ironclad. Currently, plans are underway to develop the buffering 264 acres and the results could be disastrous. The ecosystem within Thundering Waters is symbiotic; we can not separate, and destroy, one without devastating effects on the other; nor can we replicate this unique site anywhere else in the world.

One of many ctizen demontrations for Thundering Waters Forest over the past year. File photo by Doug Draper

Thundering Waters Slough Forest boasts an extensive list of species found to be at risk/threatened per Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c. 29) and the Endangered Species Act, 2007, S.O. 2007, c. 6. These include, though are not limited to:

SAR bats (the Little Brown Myotis, the Northern Myotis, the Tri-Coloured Bat),
SAR birds (the Barn Swallow, the Acadian Flycatcher, and the Chimney Swift),
Common Snapping Turtle,
Monarch butterfly,
Nine lined beetle.

Thundering Waters slough forest and wetlands areas are also home to many amphibians, reptiles, and turtles while the tall grass savanna provides habitat for a huge number of wildlife species, including many that are officially designated as rare at the global, national or provincial level, and is directly in the migratory path of pollinators returning north. Trees range from Black gum trees, oaks, maples, and tulip trees, to plum trees transplanted by Indigenous peoples.


According to the City of Niagara Falls website, The City has initiated a Secondary Plan process for the Thundering Waters area. On August 23, 2016, city council was to hold the required public consultation on the secondary plan but, due to overwhelming public attendance, the consultations were deferred until such a time as plans are complete and a suitable venue can be obtained. A year later, this meeting has yet to be rescheduled;

According to Ian Thornton, Resource Operations Supervisor with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), in a letter to the Region of Niagara Planning and Development Services , dated August 19th, 2016, the Environmental Impact Study (EIS), would not be able to fully inform the development of a land use plan and future development in its current form.  Reasons include a lack of evaluation of contiguous wetland areas adjacent to the subject area;

According to Leah Lefler, an ecologist with North-South Environment Inc., who were retained to do a peer review of the EIS, the EIS, is incomplete and “does not provide a sufficient policy review nor an adequate assessment of ecological features and functions”. Despite this peer review having been completed in July 2016, it has only been released through a Freedom of Information request to the Province. Further, none of the recommendations have been implemented despite being in line with Ian Thornton (MNRF) findings;

Despite federal, Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c. 29), and provincial, Endangered Species Act, 2007, S.O. 2007, c. 6, legislation protecting species at risk, requests for enforcement of said Acts have been ignored;

The Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force (HETF), in a letter dated March 8, 2017, reminded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that, according to our treaties, the land in question is held in stewardship. Any development of Thundering Waters Forest ignores the history, and cultural resources, it contains;

Members of the region’s Indigenous communities gather in front of the Niagara Falls, Ontario city hall in the summer of 2016 in a demonstration of support for preserving the Thundering Waters Forest. File photo by Doug Draper

According to the Province of Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe,2017, natural areas support biodiversity, provide drinking water for the region’s inhabitants, sustain its many resource-based industries, support recreational activities that benefit public health and overall quality of life, and help moderate the impacts of climate change.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Watersheds Reports rates the threat to the Great Lakes and the Niagara Peninsula as “very high”  (World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada);

According to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), their mandate is to improve the quality of lands and waters, contribute to public safety from flooding and erosion, and enhance the quality of life in its watershed. Yet, the NPCA has consistently looked at ways to protect developers by approving development on lands significant to the watershed and Great Lakes basin.

THEREFORE, we ask that:

The City of Niagara Falls:

Stop the development of pristine lands;
Schedule the public consultation, as required by law, for this site

We ask Premier Kathleen Wynne, the Province of Ontario and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) that:

The PSW area be extended to include the entire 484 acre slough forest;
Recognition of the Right to a Healthy Environment with the creation, implementation, and meaningful enforcement of, legislation to that effect;
Meaningful enforcement of Endangered Species Act, 2007, S.O. 2007, c. 6;

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal Government of Canada listen to the warnings of the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force (HETF) and honour our obligations under the The Two Row Wampum Treaty with permanent protection of this sacred land.

In order to protect our environment and the cultural heritage of the Haudenosaunee people,we recommend:

  • the creation, implementation, and meaningful enforcement of, a Charter Right to a Healthy Environment;
    meaningful enforcement of the following legislation, and commitments, particularly as they pertain to the Niagara Peninsula:
    Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c. 29);
    Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (S.C. 1999, c. 33);
    Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993, S.O. 1993, c. 28;
    International Joint Commission (IJC) commitment to the viability of our shared waterways.

This petition will be delivered to:

  • Prime Minister of Canada/Premier ministre du Canada
    Justin Trudeau
  • Premier of Ontario
    Kathleen Wynne
  • Minister of natural resources, Ontario
    Kathryn McGarry

5 more decision makers…

  • Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada
    Catherine McKenna
  • The City of Niagara Falls
  • Region of Niagara
  • The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority
  • Mayor of Niagara Falls
    Jim Diodati

 Here is the e link for the petition. Please click on and sign it.  – https://www.change.org/p/protect-thundering-waters-forest .

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater binational Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders


4 responses to “Raise Your Voice to save what’s is left of the wonderful, wild places in our Niagara watershed

  1. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and the hearts of many others, for broadcasting and sharing this message!! Circulation and signatures are crucial. Your quote at the end of each of your articles says “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders To ALL reading this I would urge you to keep in mind that every one of YOU is a “leader who thinks of the next generation” – every one reading this and Doug Draper’s articles is a much needed “leader” – every one of US can make the difference in holding those in elected office accountable to US as in “We the People”. Thank you to all who sign and circulate – Thundering Waters Forest is fragile and precious.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Further comment for our neighbours to the South. Of international importance is that the subject land falls within the geographical parameters of Lake Tonawanda, a prehistoric lake that existed approximately 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age, in Western New York, United States.[1] The lake existed on the southern (upper) side of the Niagara Escarpment east of the present course of the Niagara River between Early Lake Erie to the south and Glacial Lake Iroquois (the ancestor of Lake Ontario) to the north. During the retreat of the glaciers, the water levels of the Great Lakes were higher. Lake Tonawanda was created and fed by the elevated waters of Lake Erie. Lake Tonawanda itself was drained into Lake Ontario by a series of falls over the escarpment, including one at present day Lockport, New York. The lake evaporated when the waters of Lake Erie dropped below the level of the feeder streams to the lake. Subsequently Lake Erie drained over the escarpment entirely through Niagara Falls, which marks roughly the western terminus of the former lakebed. The remains of the previous falls, which rivalled Niagara Falls in grandeur, can be seen along the escarpment. (source: Wikipedia) Following the retreat, only 2,400 years ago, on both sides of the Niagara River, between the Niagara and Onondaga Escarpments was the great Lake Tonawanda. What is now the Welland River and Tonawanda Creek was at the bottom of this vanished great lake. It laid down deep clays, which provide the basis for the Pin Oak and vernal pool dominated Thundering Waters wetlands.


  3. In my opinion, the developers totally own and control most of the politicans. So why bother? They win by default.


  4. Gail Benjafield

    I signed the petitions, and have supported Ed Smith in all his endevours, but must agree with Mr. Somers, that the fix is in.


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