Struggle Continues To Protect World's Purest Water In Simcoe Ontario

In Memory of Alicja Rozanska.

The Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Association (FoTTSA), a group of concerned citizens from Tiny Township, organized a protest to bring attention at Queen’s Park Legislation on United Nations World Water Day (March 22, 2022) about the quality of aquifers being threatened by aggregate mining in North Simcoe County. Around noon, the last speaker at their rally which had scientists, activisits, citizens, politicians and Native people speaking out for the protection of their aquifers, was Native elder Danny Beaton, a Turtle Clan Mohawk. 

Beaton said this gathering is about protecting the world's purest water. He said “The water is the blood of our Sacred Mother Earth, all tribes and nations across Canada and North America are fighting for Mother Earth too. When my wife was alive we would put our tent up in the Spring and we would keep it up until the snow came and we had to take it down. When we were camping in Tiny Township, we drank from the aquifers all year long. Toronto and Tiny Township are two different worlds. This is still home for bears, wolves, coyotes, and deer. It is home to a world of turtles, snakes, salamanders and lots of bees, butterflies and field mice. They drink the same water coming from the aquifers as the people who bring their bottles to bring the water home to drink from natural springs gushing throughout Tiny Township and Elmvale. The Ojibway people still come and pick their medicines here, berries and cedar etc. These artisan wells or underground rivers run from Tiny all the way to the Saint Lawrence river.”

Beaton said the water is the cleanest because of the Limestone in the earth that works as a natural purifier. He said, “We have the largest body of freshwater in the world with our Great Lakes. Everything is sacred, our thinking is sacred, our minds are sacred; we need to look at each other and remember we are here for life, we are here to protect life and today is a great day because we are all here again for life for Mother Earth and our children's future. When my wife Alicja was alive, we felt it healing to drink the purest water in the world every day. We felt connected to the beauty we were trying to defend with the citizens of Tiny Township and Simcoe County. When we are in Tiny we eat the fish from Georgian Bay and pick the berries too.” 

The victory back in 2009 was largely due to Stephen Ogden, who had fought this Dump Site 41 for over twenty years and drew Beaton and Alicja's attention with his signs he posted all over Simcoe, saying Stop Dump Site 41. In May of 2009, women from Beausoleil First Nation joined the fight bringing many groups and individuals to oppose Site 41 and blockaded the landfill site construction. Injunctions, arrests, and peaceful protest put pressure and final votes were tallied at the County of Simcoe.

What finally wrested the victory was public outrage over the exposure of missing information by engineers who worked for Simcoe County. Simcoe County claimed no harm would come to the water and this changed once the digging started and excavation began for the dump. Their excavation caused the water to become dirty, site laden and in response an explosion of public outrage forced Simcoe County Councillors to oppose Dump Site 41. 

Following the 2009 victory, Simcoe County did the right thing to protect Elmvale Clay plain and underlying Aquitard above the Alliston Aquifer. The dump site was sold to 3 local farmers with Agriculture Easements placed to protect the land in the future and inspected yearly by Ontario Farmland Trust for compliance.

Farmland Easement Agreements contain provisions, developed cooperatively between land owners and OFT, that limit or restrict land uses not compatible with agriculture. The easement supersedes municipal and provincial land use planning designations, ensuring that any future non-agricultural use remains prohibited because of the permanent easement on title.                    

While the clay aquitard above the Alliston Aquifer was protected from the Dumpsite, the recharge area which supplies the water from the glacial moraine, part of the Simcoe Uplands, remained vulnerable due to the Provinces approvals of aggregate mining and approval of Permits to Take Water for millions of litres of water per day. 

Earth defenders in Simcoe County were aware of the risks posed by a smaller quarry operation here. named K. J. Beamish Construction Co. Limited. K. J. Beamish Construction Co. sold several gravel pits to multi national CRH Canada also operates Dufferin Aggregates. They have asked for a renewal of a Permit to Take Water (PTTW) and an expansion of the large aggregate mining operation.

Sarjeants another aggregate company has started to develop its aggregate mining operation. It cleared many acres of Old Growth Sugar Maple Forest. The clear cut resulted in a fine of $30,000 for violations of tree cutting by-laws.

Heavier extraction and gravel washing operations is concerning to area residents such as Bonnie Pauze and Jake Pigeon. They have already made numerous complaints to the Ministry of the Environment, the Province and the Township for the numerous changes experienced to their water, their flowing well.

Bonnie Pauze later explained that their once clean well water became silty, to such an extent that they had to create "holding tanks so the silt could settle before the water entered their home.” She visited other "local natural springs and they all had silt pouring out of them.” The council of Tiny Township refused to grant the rezoning required to facilitate a larger Teedon Pit. This has resulted in an appeal by the owners of the Teedon Pit to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT). Recently changed to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

Scientist William Shotyk’s awareness of the purity of Elmvale's water began in his youth when he was fascinated as a visitor from Toronto to see a farmer drinking right out of a flowing. He is now a Professor and Bocock Chair for Agriculture and the Environment and the University of Alberta. Shotyk explains how Elmvale’s water contains less lead, at least by a factor of five, than the clearest ice layers from the Arctic — an amazing comparison because those Arctic samples are from 5,000 to 8,000 years ago, long before the onset of atmospheric lead pollution. 

He is further stunned that much of the pure water is not ancient but is cleansed “as the water infiltrates the soil, contaminants are removed by the humus, clay minerals, plant roots and micro-organisms that constitute soil and the alternating layers of coarse- to fine-grained glacial sediments.” The environment acts as a filter for contaminates.

The purity of North Simcoe’s water requires strong response from the provincial government so that Tiny Township does not have to battle the owners of the Teedon Pit and the Ontario Land Tribunal. 

Legislation should be passed immediately to protect the recharge areas and aquitards of the world's purest waters, like the measure taken by the Ontario Government to protect the Adams Lake mine from garbage dumping. 

What can you do to help?

A new Federal Petition is available.

Please sign the petition and ask your friends and family to do so too. Share this message with your networks. We are looking for support from across Canada to preserve this national treasure! 

Note: When you sign the petition, you will get a confirmation email that requires a click for your signature to be counted. 

You can learn more from Save Our Tiny here. 

Photo Credit: Danny Beaton at Queen's Park, World Water Day 2022 by Christopher Brown.


What’s the big deal about the water?
In 2006, University of Heidelberg Professor William Shotyk, the world-renowned scientist whose research has set an international benchmark for measuring the impact of human activities on water, tested the water at Dumpsite 41.

Dr. Shotyk found that levels for metals (like lead, which causes brain damage) are a fraction of the level acceptable as the Ontario standard. The water is so free of contaminants that it’s comparable to 5,000-6,000-year-old Arctic ice core sources. Simcoe County dismisses these results and says it is “misleading” to say that this is the cleanest water in the world. That’s only misleading if we consider that not all of the freshwater in the world has been tested.

Professor Shotyk has tested this water for 35 elements and recently added another six. His sampling has continued throughout 2007, 2008, and 2009. Plainly, this water’s purity is the standard against which all other Ontario and Canadian fresh water should be measured. It is the most pristine source ever discovered, now scientifically verified.

In 2009 the camping protest began with the Anishinabe Kweag and other women of the First Nations. It was supported by area farmers, seniors, municipal, rural and beach area residents, children, students, Ralph Nader, Maude Barlow, and Dale Goldhawk. The protestors included the Council of Canadians, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, the United Church of Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation and other provincial, national and international organizations. 

As anyone who drinks this water can tell you, it tastes wonderful! (Check it out at the public flow on the east side of Highway 27 north of Elmvale).

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