Keep the Tree Seed Plant site public

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The Ontario government has closed the Tree Seed Plant in Angus. The 26-acre site of this unique historic facility is now in the government's "disposition of realty" process. Organizations such as municipalities, conservation authorities and not-for-profit corporations can identify interest in the property until the end of June 2019. And they have expressed interest. But there's a catch: the price. The transaction must be at market value, estimated at many millions of dollars, far beyond local donor- or taxpayer-funded budgets. Unless the Treasury Board approves an alternative.

We believe the site of the Ontario Tree Seed Plant must stay in public hands. In its 94 years of operations, the Tree Seed Plant has been publicly funded. The return on that investment has been exponential. The OTSP has provided locally adapted native tree seed for forests here in Simcoe County and across Ontario--forests that mitigated environmental disaster in the early 20th century and continue to provide irreplaceable benefits today.

It is up to us to preserve that legacy. Some of the possible public uses of the property include the expansion of the Angus Community Park and additional land for the Essa Fire Department. As our community becomes more densely populated, green spaces will become critical to health and well-being, and the services of the Fire Department will be in demand.

The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority has been approached by local citizens about its interest in the property. The central location of the site in Angus would be an opportunity to extend educational programs and continue the forestry and conservation work begun at the plant in the previous century.

Local community groups, environmentalists and historians recognize how deeply connected the Tree Seed Plant has been to the history of this area. Preserving the site honors that connection in the place where it happened, and leaves open the potential for future connections. We cannot afford to lose that opportunity.

AWARE Essa respectfully requests that Premier Doug Ford, Minister John Yakabuski and Minister Rod Phillips:

  1. Recognize the economic, cultural and environmental benefits of keeping the site of the Ontario Tree Seed Plant in public hands,
  2. Provide the opportunity for multiple compatible proposals to be considered,
  3. Offer affordable financial arrangements to public entities with proposals that contribute to the long-term public good.