Towards a Management Plan for the Waterloo Moraine: A Comprehensive Assessment of its Current State within the Region of Waterloo
Poulin, Lindsay Nicole
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The Region of Waterloo (ROW) and Oxford County contain a significant landscape unit called the Waterloo Moraine that provides multiple ecological and water resource functions to surrounding communities. These functions include; providing a clean and abundant source of water, natural landscapes for plant and animal habitats, natural areas for recreational enjoyment, prime agricultural lands on which to grow food and aggregate resources in close proximity to large markets. This landscape unit is similar to the Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The purpose of this research is to conduct an examination of the current state of management for the Waterloo Moraine within the ROW and Oxford County. Attributes of the Waterloo Moraine examined include; water resources, agricultural resources, mineral aggregate resources, Environmentally Sensitive Landscapes (ESLs), natural core areas, natural linkage areas and settlement areas. While the hydrologic functions have been most studied within this landscape unit, the Moraine has predominantly been studied from a focused perspective rather than a comprehensive one. Using expert knowledge and available secondary sources the following research questions are investigated: (1) What do we currently know about the Waterloo Moraine and how is this knowledge (or lack thereof) applied to its future existence and sustainability? (2) Who are the stakeholders when it comes to growth and management of the Waterloo Moraine? (3) Which places need to be protected from development most throughout the Waterloo Moraine? (4) Where does the Waterloo Moraine fit into management policies and plans existing in the Region of Waterloo and within the Province of Ontario? Key results of this research include; (1) The boundary of the Waterloo Moraine remains undefined; however, rough estimates of the overall size and various portions within each county, township and city it encompasses have been projected. To date, the largest portion of the Moraine lies in Wilmot Township (36.9%) and the smallest portion lies in North Dumfries (3%). (2) Many stakeholders are involved in the protection and management of the Waterloo Moraine. Regional and provincial officials ultimately control where development and growth occur and which areas in the ROW should be protected most. Those responsible for the initial ‘push’ for Moraine protection are grassroots groups and individuals coupled with the local media. (3) Criteria designating development ‘hot spots’ across the Waterloo Moraine has been established and six ‘hot spots’ within the Waterloo Moraine are designated. Limited recognition has been given to the Waterloo Moraine complex in regional policies. It is therefore suggested that the creation of a Waterloo Moraine Act be considered in order to protect and manage this landscape unit. The Act would promote protection measures for the Moraine’s valuable attributes at the highest provincial level and eventually lead to a conservation plan. It is recommended that the ROW further refine the Waterloo Moraine’s boundaries, develop a database to monitor changes in various features and functions across the Waterloo Moraine’s landscape and promote the implementation of a Waterloo Moraine Act.