Stop “Next Nine” Golf Course Development from Destroying Innisfil Forest!

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As Joni Mitchell sang, “They cut down all the trees and put ‘em in a tree museum” and, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…"

In this case, a developer doesn’t plan to cut down the trees for a parking lot, but for a nine-hole golf course on Big Bay Point, beside the large Friday Harbour resort development in the Town of Innisfil, Ontario. The proposed project — called “Next Nine” — is across the street from an existing nine-hole golf course, and only a few minutes drive from a new 18-hole golf course.

Area residents need to seriously ask themselves whether this project is needed, when it requires cutting down a major part of one of the last intact forests and wetlands on a 40-acre lot that's home to a plethora of wildlife, including foxes, squirrels, turkeys, pileated woodpeckers, peregrine falcons, the rare chimney crayfish and more, plus stands of endangered butternut trees.

For background, this land is currently zoned as a Natural Environmental Area. The developer knew when this when the acquired the property, speculating they could sway the town, the local conservation authority and other agencies to rezone it to “Parks and Open Space.” (The local Huron-Wendat First Nations must be consulted also, as there are mounds on the land that may be significant for them.) And why? For profit, and to benefit of a small number of private golf-club members who will be the only people allowed on the property.

Birds and animals already struggle to survive in smaller and smaller “islands” of forest in Innisfil as subdivisions and shopping plazas are being developed on once-forested areas and Class A agricultural land. Now a rare 40-acre parcel of forest is poised to be chopped up further. If we step back and look at the larger picture, we must ask, What’s the end-vision for Big Bay Point and the lands around it? Do we want the whole area to become a network of bland subdivisions and malls? Or do we want to maintain some semblance of the current blend of rural homes and wilderness?

We need to answer this question for ourselves now, not after the chainsaws cut huge swaths through forest and golf balls start landing in the wetlands.. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

Let’s petition the town, the local conservation authority and other agencies to preserve this precious last-remianing forest! Let’s ask them to not rezone the lands for the benefit of a few people in an area that already has plenty of golf venues. Let’s take a stand for trees and the wildlife that have no voice in our society where for-profit development abounds and the last forests are vanishing before our eyes.

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