On Thursday, September 10, 2020, President John Hirsch, together with board members Cheryl Anderson, Amy Bodman and Myrna Wood were delighted to be present for an announcement by Hon. Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks that the province is beginning the process to designate Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area and Ostrander Point Crown Land Block as a new conservation reserve. 

In addition to many supporters, 1,600 people sent letters and emails of support for preserving and protecting these remarkable lands in our County’s South Shore.

On behalf of the South Shore Joint Initiative Board we’d like to thank each and every partner who’s helped us achieve this incredible progress. We are most grateful to The Consecon Foundation and The Gosling Foundation who, along with The Shad Foundation, provided funding to support the community involvement campaign.

John Hirsch’s remarks during this important announcement follow...

Thank you Minister Yurek…………….

Thank you all for being here today for what is a most important announcement. Here on one of the County’s so-called secret beaches, we celebrate a great realization by the province that the South Shore of PEC is a very special and important place worthy of permanent protection.

For those of us who have worked so hard over the last few years for some of us – many, many years for others, this is a victory. But it is really many victories. A victory for the 33 plus Species at risk who make this their habitat, a victory for the rare and fragile Alvar, a victory for the entire ecosystem of the South Shore which is the last significant largely undisturbed stretch of the north shore of Lake Ontario, and perhaps most of all, a victory for the people – those who will come here to discover, those who will come here to bird watch, those who will come here to study, those who will come here to enjoy recreational pursuits - all in a manner which respects the essential biodiversity and importance of this land.

I need to thank and call out some of the many people who made today possible. Many are here.

First the band of 5 who got together after a symposium in October 2017 and planned the start of what became the SSJI – Cheryl Anderson, Myrna Wood, Amy Bodman, Peter Fuller, and myself.

We soon got the idea to try to bring together all the organizations dedicated to nature and conservation in the County whether or not they were in the County. So we gathered folks from PECFN, from PEPtBO, from APPEC – Gord Gibbins, from CCSAGE – Anne Dumbrille, from HPELT – Dick Bird, from the Point to Point Foundation – Richard Copple, from Ontario Nature – Caroline Schultz, BSC – Steven Price, from Nature Canada – Graham Saul and Hannah Dean.

So, you can see why we called this outfit the Joint Initiative. Truly a collaborative effort.

The purpose of SSJI was developed to be: Work to protect the PEC south shore IBA to maintain or increase the biodiversity of its terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

Our first target for protection? The 2 blocks of crown land – so here we are today!!

I have to especially thank the Nature Conservancy of Canada – Mark Stabb, who has supported this effort all the way through as they too acquired and protected properties on the South Shore.

And, of course, We received support (not just the moral kind !)from the Consecon Foundation – Geoff Burt, the Shad Foundation, Peter Kendall, and the Gosling foundation – Stan Kozak – who is the one who pushed and shoved and advised and generally kept us on the right track.

Needless to say we sought and received the support of County Council – Mayor Steve Ferguson, Councillor Jamie Forrester, in whose ward, Athol, we are standing, our MPP, and multiportfolio Minister Todd Smith, and our Federal MP, Neil Ellis.

This ended up being kind of a textbook case of how to achieve an important environmental goal.

So, Mr. Yurek, I think you will understand that we had lots of folks lined up to help you and your officials make this very positive decision. I guess you would be happy if we turned off the letter writing campaign now?? Over 1600 letters is probably enough??

I will close by saying that the fun has just begun !  SSJI and its many talented supporters are ready willing and able to assist the government in the public consultation process and the creation of the Management Plans for these Conservation Reserves. We can help in whatever way you deem fit.

So, thank you again. This is a great day for the South Shore and a great day for the County.