Who We Are
Green Durham Association (GDA) is a non-profit registered charity dedicated to protecting, preserving and enhancing the forests, farmlands and natural areas which lie northeast of Toronto in Uxbridge, north Pickering and adjacent Greenbelt lands. Our members are people who live near, enjoy visiting or care about these lands.
GDA supports healthy habitats for flora, fauna, wetlands and watersheds, promotes development of trails for passive recreational use, and provides a constructive voice on all issues which may have implications for our vision for these lands.
We work in partnership with municipalities, conservation bodies and other partners to plan, acquire and manage trail networks, nature corridors and conservation lands. We support and promote land protection and stewardship efforts on private lands. We support research, make comments and advise on policies and decisions affecting land use.
Vision and Mission
Our vision is of key natural areas, such as the Oak Ridges Moraine lands, which will be protected and enhanced, of conservation lands linked to communities, and of agricultural lands which are actively and sustainably farmed. These communities should grow in ways that preserve these unique lands for future generations.
Green Durham Association is a non-profit registered charity dedicated to protecting, preserving and enhancing the forests, farmlands, and natural areas which lie northeast of Toronto in Uxbridge, north Pickering and adjacent Greenbelt lands.
We work in partnership with municipalities, conservation bodies and other partners to plan for, acquire and manage trail networks, nature corridors and conservation lands.
We support and promote land protection and stewardship efforts on private lands.
We support research, make comments and advise on policies and decisions affecting land use.
To support healthy habitats for flora, fauna, wetlands and watersheds.
To support development of trails for passive recreational use.
To be a constructive voice on all issues which may have implications for our vision for these lands.
GDA participates wherever possible in opportunities to comment on land use plans and decisions. Our aim is to promote and support policies and planning decisions which favour compact urban growth, and consider farmland and green space preservation and environmental impacts. GDA
focuses primarily on Uxbridge, north Pickering and adjacent green belt lands, but also comments on larger issues at the provincial, regional and municipal levels which may have implications for these lands.
Over the years GDA and its members have been involved with many land use issues including:
The Federal Airport Lands: In 1972 the Federal Government expropriated 18,600 acres of land in Pickering to build a new international airport for Toronto. An airport was not needed then and a convincing business case for one now has yet to be made. No plans for a productive use of these lands have been developed. Neglect meant that more than 300 farmhouses and other dwellings became safety risks and eventually had to be demolished. GDA has researched and proposed a plan to permanently protect the Airport Lands for agriculture and to fund research into ways to make them more productive.
The development of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan: This provincial plan protects the most environmentally sensitive parts of the Moraine from becoming housing subdivisions. GDA participates in provincially-led discussions regarding improvements to the plan.
The aggregate industry: GDA has worked with various partners to encourage more sound environmental practices within the aggregate industry. GDA is participating in current discussions about how to make aggregate pit rehabilitation and end-use more in tune with surrounding areas.
“Land swap” lands and Conservation Authorities: A development called “Gan Eden” was proposed for the south part of Uxbridge Township. The Province reached an agreement with the developer to “swap” the Uxbridge lands for lands in the Seaton area in north Pickering. As with the airport lands described earlier, no plans for a productive use of the Uxbridge lands has been developed. GDA has encouraged the province to transfer these lands to Conservation Authorities and ensure they are managed with the environment as the priority focus.
Developing the Greenbelt Plan: In 2015 this plan is under review and GDA participates in these discussions.
GDA has played an integral role in the development and enhancement of a trail system which links communities and public conservation lands. This has been achieved through participation on numerous committees, and partnerships with organizations, businesses, foundations and associations. GDA members work behind the scenes to facilitate and if necessary to fund the acquisition of key linkages, easements and connections.
This trail network includes two components:
A large trail network system of more than 150 kms of recreational trails for hikers, cyclists, skiers and equestrians; and
An in-town system of 12 walking trails in the town of Uxbridge and another 6 kms on the countryside preserve adjacent to Uxbridge.
The large trail network commences at the Uxbridge/Pickering townline and extends north through TRCA and Durham Region properties to Highway 21. At that point it merges with the Trans-Canada Trail (TCT) and continues into the Town of Uxbridge. Along the way it intersects with the Oak Ridges Trail (which travels an east/west route through Uxbridge township) and provides a link to trails in Scugog township, utilizing the Oak Ridges Trail. Trails which are in the process of being developed on the north side of Uxbridge can be accessed by using the TCT as it travels east to Lindsay and beyond. On the west side of the system there a trail linkage to the northern section of the Federal Airport lands which ultimately will connect to Rouge National Park and through it to Lake Ontario.
Access to this trail system is provided by strategically located “trail heads” which have parking lots and information kiosks.The kiosks contain large scale maps of the trail system and places for notices pertaining to trail conditions and rules of the road. Consult the Uxbridge Trail Maps for information about the in-town system.
Some of our current activities include:
Providing substantial financial assistance to the TRCA to build a trail head and parking lot off Brock Road and a trail to connect with existing trails in the Wilder Forest property.
Working to complete the Dagmar loop by connecting the TRCA’s Skyloft property to its Dagmar north property and then to its Dagmar south property.
Meeting with officials in the provincial government regarding their management of the Nesbitt property; proposing a plan that this strategically located land can be incorporated into the TRCA’s planning for its East Duffins Headwaters properties through a long term lease arrangement.
Working with Lafarge to try and find a way to have the bulk of its Regan Pit property come into public hands once its mining operations are complete. Neighbours of this property are the TRCA on the south and west sides, the Nesbitt land on the north and the Region’s Durham Forest property to the east.
A GDA member was instrumental in the negotiations that led to the TRCA acquiring the properties known as the Pleasure Valley and Wilder Forest lands. The same member was also instrumental in the negotiations that led to the purchase by the TRCA of the Skyloft property. In this case GDA made a substantial donation of funds to help the acquisition go forward. GDA members identified and assisted in the purchase of a trail linkage that connects the Wilder Forest lands to the TRCA’s Brock properties to the south. It did the same when it helped the TRCA acquire a trail connect from its Seaton lands to the northern part of the Federal Lands airport lands.
GDA works in many ways to encourage better land stewardship on both public and private lands.
Conservation easements: GDA members and supporters have permanently protected more than 2000 acres of land by donating conservation easements on private properties in the area. This ensures these lands will never be developed. Environment Canada confirms that more landowners in this area have donated easements than across the entire rest of the moraine. We work with private landowners to encourage habitat restoration, forest management, control of invasive plant species, and other stewardship activities as information becomes available about the best practices in these areas.
Trails: The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority manages large tracts of land in the area south of the town of Uxbridge. GDA members have been and continue to be active in the stewardship of an extensive trails system on TRCA’s East Duffins Headwaters properties. GDA members act as trail captains on sections of a trail; they monitor activity on their sections and keep the TRCA informed when there are needs for major maintenance or instances of non-permitted use. GDA worked with TRCA to create a community liaison position to better represent the TRCA locally, and to ensure local community concerns are addressed. Funding for the position is shared between GDA and the TRCA. GDA also provides funds to keep trails mowed and properties in the East Duffins Headwaters in good shape. We invite you to donate funds to this project.
Golf course practices: GDA supported the efforts of the Township of Uxbridge to establish a policy for golf courses. GDA supported the efforts of the Township of Uxbridge to establish an environmentally friendly policy for maintenance of golf courses in the Township. Maintenance involves water usage, fertilizer and herbicide use. As a result of this work all of the golf courses in the Township have adopted the Audubon Society standards for course maintenance practices and protection of wetlands and particularly sensitive environmental areas.
Aggregate extraction practices: GDA and the McCutcheon Foundation commissioned Ontario Nature to explore the state of the 31 licensed aggregate pits in Uxbridge Township, with support of $40,000 in 2010. GDA then supported Ontario Nature in their successful application for $146,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to extend this project to the Township of Scugog and beyond, and explore development of best practice standards for the aggregate industry. This work resulted in a report entitled “Bioregional Planning for Aggregate Extraction in the Townships of Uxbridge and Scugog”. The report was timely because it was then available to the Cornerstone Standards Council [CSC] who were working on developing a Responsible Aggregate Standard during the same time period. In January 2015 the CSC announced the release of this standard which will mark the start of a two year pilot period. The CSC has spent three years developing a standard which seeks to establish a high but achievable bar for the siting, operation and rehabilitation of aggregate sites in Ontario. GDA will continue to be active with follow up actions on this standard.
Importation of “clean fill”: It is estimated that up to 50 million tons (or 2.5 million truckloads) of excavated material a year results from large condo developments, subway and highway expansions in the GTA. Rural areas surrounding the GTA are the obvious choices to look for disposal sites. This excavated material may in some cases be contaminated. GDA supports the work of Lakeridge Citizens for Clean Water who advocate that provincial standards and enforcement mechanisms for the handling and disposal of fill be established. To date a plan and effective legislation has not been developed to provide support to municipalities, to monitor operations and to develop and enforce regulations which address the risks of ground water contamination.
Green Durham Association is a non-profit registered charity, formed by the recent consolidation of two organizations, the Green Door Alliance and the Durham Conservation Association.
The Green Door Alliance Inc. was formed in the 1990’s with roots originating in 1972 with People or Planes (POP) and in the early 1990’s with the Pickering Rural Association. It has been policy and research-focused and closely involved with the Federal and Provincial land holdings and Pickering issues. In 2001, the Green Door Directors and Patrons created the Durham Conservation Association (DCA) to pursue issues that were not consistent with the Green Door Alliance focus. DCA, a registered charity, has been active with other partners including Conservation Authorities and the Township of Uxbridge, in private and public land stewardship, land acquisition and trails particularly in the Uxbridge area.
While the focus has been somewhat different, both organizations shared a common interest in promoting ‘Smart Growth’ and in natural area and farmland preservation. Over time it became apparent that Durham Conservation Association activities were fully consistent with the Green Door Alliance charter, and in 2011 the Green Door Alliance and the Durham Conservation Associations were consolidated and renamed the Green Durham Association to reflect the history and contributions of the two organizations. Newsletters and publications found on this website provide details on significant past activities and accomplishments of both organizations. In more recent material referencing past involvement, we will use the new name – Green Durham, Green Durham Association or GDA. Past material will not be changed.
Our great pioneers