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white pelican

We recently had an American White Pelican stop in for a visit at Second Marsh! This great picture was taken by Central Lake Ontario Conservation staff that were nearby.


Stop the establishment of the FarmTech ethanol refinery adjacent to Second Marsh. Your donations help provide the legal ammunition (e.g. expert witnesses) needed to eliminate this threat to the health of an Ontario "environmental gem". (funds raised in excess of those required will be applied to other Friends of Second Marsh programs.)

Use this button for donations to the legal fund

Wetlands and Wildlife Fall 2008 - Cover Story

Recently two sayings have been cycling through my thoughts; an ancient curse that goes, "May you live in interesting times", and Yogi Berra’s famous quote, "It's deja vu all over again." Well, times have become very interesting for Friends of Second Marsh because, once again, the marsh is being threatened by short-sighted interests.

For those of you who may not be aware of it, a company called FarmTech Energy Corporation has made an agreement with the Oshawa Harbour Commission (a federal agency) to construct and operate a heavy industrial ethanol production facility on the "Gifford Farmlands", approximately 150 metres west of, and directly upwind of, Second Marsh. The proximity and prevailing wind directions raise a number of concerns about the immediate and long-term negative impacts the refinery would have on the Second Marsh Wildlife Area (SMWA). These include:

  • Particulate Matter, Products of Combustion and Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Organic Dust Products (that can act as fertilizer and lead to algae blooms and other problems in the marsh)
  • Associated Truck Traffic (one heavy truck trip every two minutes within 5m of the Waterfront Trail along a 500m stretch of that pathway).
  • Light pollution (that can reduce breeding success in amphibians and other species)
  • Sight lines (the refinery is huge, an eyesore, and would visually dominate the area)
  • Noise
  • Odours
  • Attraction of rats, mice and their predators.

The Fight

Friends of Second Marsh has once again taken up the cause of protecting this provincially significant wetland and has become involved in efforts to stop this new threat to its health. Friends has already made submissions in opposition to FarmTech's applications to municipal and provincial levels of government. Decisions are still pending on both those matters but we are optimistic on both counts. We will also soon be involved in processes at the federal level.

FarmTech has also strongly indicated that, even if the City of Oshawa states that they do not want this ethanol plant near the waterfront and Second Marsh, FarmTech will go to the Ontario Municipal Board in an effort to force this refinery on the people of Oshawa and Ontario. Friends will likely become involved at this level as well. So, as you can see, we have our work cut out for us.

Reasons to Believe

But there are reasons to be very optimistic.

  • Candidates for all four major federal political parties in the riding of Oshawa have publicly stated that the Gifford Farmlands are the wrong site for an ethanol plant.
  • The Honourable David Crombie's report to the federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities states that the Gifford site should be maintained as a buffer zone and that Second Marsh is a "gem" that should be protected against the impacts of any development along the waterfront.
  • A number of other organizations have also acted in opposition to the FarmTech proposal. This includes Lake Ontario Waterkeepers and we are hopeful that it will also soon include the City of Oshawa which has consistently taken a long-term, people friendly approach to the waterfront area.
  • And finally, indications are that a very respected and impressive legal agency will soon agree to act as FSM's solicitors on a pro bono basis.

The Challenge

However, we are facing a corporation with deep pockets and although, we are optimistic of victory, we expect this to be a long and grueling process. This battle has already placed a strain on Friends time and resources. Staff have found it necessary to divert efforts away from stewardship and education programs for children in order to prepare materials and engage in the various government processes. Friends will need to secure extensive funds to pay for expert witnesses in these complex environmental matters and to defray an array of other costs. It is with this need in mind that we invite you to be partners with us in fighting to preserve this natural gem called Second Marsh for today's generation and for those to follow.

Your support is a vital part of this effort. Donations can be made by going to our donation page. Thank you for getting involved. We are very grateful for your investment and your determination to ensure a healthy vibrant environment for our community and our province.

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