Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

MVFN Concludes Campaign to Influence Proposed Development on Burnt Lands Alvar

The almost year-long efforts of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) to oppose a proposed small development at the southern edge of Burnt Lands Alvar on Golden Line Road in Ramsay Ward, came to a conclusion with an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing on December 7, 2015. The MVFN alvar team fought for changes to the development right up to about a week before the hearing, when they withdrew from the hearing after exhausting all of their options.

Allison Alvar walk 2015, photo by Pauline Donaldson

Allison walk ram's head (1280x960)The County of  Lanark and the Municipality of Mississippi Mills Official Plans allow cluster-lot developments within the alvar  (even though it is a sensitive area and a designated Area of Natural and Scientific Interest) if an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) is conducted and steps are taken to mitigate environmental damage to the footprint of the development. As these steps had been shown in the original application, the proposed development project had been approved conditionally and could proceed. It was on these grounds that MVFN felt it could make an impact by opposing the project as planned. The MVFN alvar team strove to force many improvements to the EIS for the proposed development.

By opposing the development, MVFN has raised awareness of the public as to the existence of the Burnt Lands Alvar, its location, what an alvar is, and the unique and fragile ecosystems which make Burnt Lands Alvar an ecological treasure.  Also, MVFN’s opposition to this particular development has arguably influenced the local municipality to begin processes to change its Community Official Plan and accompanying Zoning By-Laws to ensure future similar development schemes cannot occur on regulated lands in Mississippi Mills.

A significant impact of MVFN’s alvar appeal was to have three additional on-site visits by ecologists and other experts take place, in late spring, summer and early autumn. These field studies added significantly to the developer’s previous EIS study, which had included only one cursory assessment of the Alvar ecology. Two other important concessions were achieved by the MVFN team, to place the roadway in the least damaging location, and the other to change the location of the turning circle, also to minimize impact. Other positive influences from the MVFN team can be seen throughout the final EIS report.

The Alvar OMB team, led by MVFN member Tineke Kuiper, included several qualified specialists and other supporting persons. Key to the effort was a team of lawyers from the Canadian Environment Law Association, which was provided free of costs to MVFN.

The other significant component of MVFN’s appeal effort was the MVFN fund-raising team, led by MVFN Chair of the Environmental Issues Committee Theresa Peluso. They conducted an amazing fund-raising campaign which allowed the MVFN Alvar team to hire a planner and two ecologists and pay other related costs. When final invoices are in, the MVFN Finance Committee will publish a financial statement.

Although MVFN had withdrawn their appeal prior to the hearing, MVFN President Cliff Bennett and a member of the lawyer team, attended the short OMB hearing as a professional courtesy. The final judgments of the OMB will be handed down by mid-January and a final MVFN report will be issued at that time. For any enquiries on MVFN’s involvement in this project, please contact Cliff Bennett at 613 256-5013 or .

Photos by Pauline Donaldson were taken during a 2015 walk on Burnt Lands Alvar led by Ken Allison .

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The Beauties of the Burnt Lands

The Almonte and District Horticultural Society (A&DHS) is hosting a talk by Brian Carson about the alvar! This will take place on Monday night, June 1. The meeting will also feature a mini flower show including photography.

Brian Carson and the horticultural society have generously decided to donate several speaker honorariums to MVFN’s Burnt Lands Alvar Campaign!

Even if you are not a member of the A&DHS, you may attend (your first meeting as a non-member is free) and perhaps also decide to support the society by joining, if you are not already a member, for the very reasonable membership fee of $10. The horticultural society usually hosts its meetings the fourth Monday of the month, but this will be an extra one in June. New members are welcome to join at any meeting.

Contact person for more information is A&DHS President Carol Kenward: 


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MVFN Burnt Lands Alvar Tour

Ken Allison will lead a tour for MVFN members and friends; a spring tour of Burnt Lands Alvar, on Saturday morning, May 30, 2015.

We will spend the morning searching for the special plants that thrive in this habitat, such as Fringed Polygala, Seneca Snakeroot and New Jersey Tea. Hopefully, some of the lady’s-slippers will be in bloom. We will also be looking at any birds and butterflies that are present.

We will be looking at alvar woodland, alvar meadows, alvar wetland, and the regenerating burn site to see a variety of different habitats.

Date: Saturday, May 30, 2015

Time: Meet at location at 7:30 a.m.

Location:  Meet along Golden Line Road beside Burnt Lands Alvar Provincial Park area (marked by signs on the fence) at 7:30 a.m. There is roadside parking.

Bring:  mosquito repellent, binoculars and a camera. Rubber boots are strongly recommended as parts of the alvar can be flooded a few inches deep early in the year and there are patches of poison ivy.

NOTE: You must pre-register for this event. 

To register, please contact Gretta Bradley at  or 613-256-4202.  Please remember to give your name and the event/s you are registering for.

NOTE: If you wish to become an MVFN member or renew, please complete a Membership Form. Memberships dues are very reasonable and include all MVFN events and lectures, as well as supporting MVFN’s many  local conservation and education initiatives.

Photos below are from a May 2009 Burnt Lands Alvar Tour led by Paul Catling (orange shirt). In spite of the nearly constant rain that day, the wonder of the alvar in springtime kept everyone so mesmerized that no one noticed the rain!

May 2009-1 Alvar Walk. photo Pauline Donaldson

May 2009-1 Alvar Walk. photo Pauline Donaldson

May 2009-2 Alvar Walk led by Paul Catling (orange shirt). Photo Pauline Donaldson

May 2009-2 Alvar Walk led by Paul Catling (orange shirt). Photo Pauline Donaldson

May 2009-3 Alvar Walk. Photo Pauline Donaldson

May 2009-3 Alvar Walk. Photo Pauline Donaldson

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Live music by The Jimmy Tri-Tone Band: featured item, Burnt Lands Alvar Silent Auction

This weeks’ featured item in the Burnt Lands Alvar Silent Auction Fundraiser is live music for your event:  by The Jimmy Tri-Tone Band.

The Burnt Lands Alvar Silent Auction will take place at MVFN’s Spring Gathering 2015, May 21, 2015 at the Almonte Civitan Hall. All proceeds will go to the Burnt Lands Alvar Campaign. Get ready to bid on this item if you have your ticket for this event. A recent list of other silent auction items which will be part of the auction is posted here. If you do not already have a ticket, unfortunately tickets are no longer available for this sold out  annual dinner, silent auction and keynote presentation. However, if you would like to make a donation to MVFN’s efforts to preserve the Burnt Lands Alvar from development, visit our donate now page for more information about the alvar.



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Art for Burnt Lands Alvar now on display at Mill Street Books


Details of silent auction fine art work items are below. Reserve bids apply for all. Bidding on these and other silent auction items will continue until close at MVFN’s May 21st Spring Gathering.

Jennifer Noxon

Bits and Pieces I

Acrylic on Canvas


Reserve Bid- $225.00

Mary Pal

Silent Secret, Cast in Stone


Reserve Bid- $100.00

Amelia Ah You

Memories of Summer II

Acrylic/Oil Pastel


Reserve Bid- $125.00

Stephen Brathwaite

Etched and Painted Glass Portrait

Customized piece done from your photography

Reserve Bid- $250.00

NOTE: Ticket deadline to reserve or purchase tickets for the May 21st Spring Gathering is Thursday, May 14, 2015.

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