This is a guest blog by Judy Mabee, President of The Belfountain Community Organization, a residents’ group committed to preserving the rural heritage and environmental integrity of the Hamlet of Belfountain.
When you think of Hamlet your mind might go to Shakespeare, but a hamlet is also a small settlement – smaller than a village. And while the Hamlet of Belfountain may be small in size, it is big in character, community spirit and environmental treasures. Not only is Belfountain nestled in the Credit River watershed and protected by Ontario’s Greenbelt, it is part of the Niagara Escarpment and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
Despite its unique characteristics, Belfountain is also under big pressure from developers who are looking to pave over its rich heritage and ecological features for profit.
Located in the Greenbelt, in the northwest corner of Caledon, Belfountain is only an hour’s drive from Toronto, which is part of the reason it has experienced an influx of development proposals that put its character and environment at risk.
Belfountain is one of the few remaining places that has preserved its unique cultural heritage and charming way of life. Here you will find homes and cottages made of board, baton and natural stone, just as they were when the hamlet was established in 1857. You can still see horses trotting down the winding roads and stars at night, thanks to its limited light pollution. Neighbours chat on porches or lean over hedges while their children safely play. Visitors come for the forests, rivers, and wildlife, but stay for the charm.
All of this could change if developers get their way. Right now, there are three proposals that threaten one of the Greenbelt’s last remaining hamlets:
- Manors of Belfountain– a 67 lot subdivision development proposal at the south end of the hamlet which would pave over sensitive hydrological features and encourage car-dependency.
- Sewage Treatment Plant in Erin – if built, effluent discharged into the Credit River could threaten regional drinking water sources, the fish that depend on cold water and wildlife.
- Extending the Erin Gravel Pit north of the Credit River – this expansion could impact local wells with extraction of aggregate below the groundwater level, as well as cause damage to the hamlet by truck and machinery noise, dust and visual impact.
Under the Niagara Escarpment Plan, Belfountain is protected by the rule that states, “minor urban centers shall be maintained and enhanced in either their present form or may accommodate growth or development within their boundaries so long as it does not conflict with the community character and can be achieved in an environmentally sustainable manner.” Although it is clear that each of the proposed developments wouldn’t fit under this rule, developers won’t leave our picture perfect community alone.
That’s why we need your help. Will you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org today to save Belfountain? Include your name and contact info and why you think one of the Greenbelt’s last remaining hamlets should remain protected. We will forward your concerns to the Niagara Escarpment Commission and The Town of Caledon.
You’ll be doing more than just preserving the land, water, vegetation and animals that Belfountain supports; you will be saving a unique cultural heritage and way of life that’s all but disappeared in the region.