To: Chair and Board of Directors of the HCA,Members of the Conservation Advisory Board
Re: Future of Maplewood
Private school director Tony Evans has said of his Montessori school “We have a profound respect for the environment... This is who we are.” I have a difficult time understanding how Evans’ desire to use Dundas Valley Conservation Area’s Maplewood Hall for his school site fits with this self-image.
Children being driven to school along country roads and up a long driveway through an Environmentally Sensitive Area doesn’t teach respect for the environment, it teaches car- dependency.
Introducing farm animals and vegetable gardens into the very heart of Dundas Valley’s natural ecosystem only deepens the disconnect between professed conservation goals and true protection of nature.
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Despite Evans’ professed “feeling [that] the benefits of educating another generation about the environment outweigh the negatives,” it really sends the opposite message.
Respecting the environment in this century means being part of the urban fabric so children have transportation options besides relying on parents or caregivers driving them daily into the forest. A school on a public transit route, with safe bike lanes, close to amenities that permit students to interact with the community are important considerations in any discussion on respecting the environment.
If the goal is to teach farming skills, it would make more sense if the school applied their “Erdkinder” ideology to working with and supporting the region’s many existing local farmers rather than displacing the opportunity to rehabilitate this important natural area.
The HCA report on Maplewood clearly states that “Continued use of this facility means continued negative impact of the surrounding natural heritage area including but not limited to, silting of the Sulphur Creek, adverse effects on flora and fauna due to road maintenance and use.”
It remains a mystery why the HCA is going through a process to evaluate a proposal that would mean continued harm to our natural lands while ignoring their own reports suggesting the cost effective and principled action is to take down Maplewood and rehabilitate the area, including removal of the long and difficult-to-maintain driveway cutting through a steep ravine.
It’s as much a mystery as how Evans can consider his proposal respectful of the environment.