I remember the very first time I came to Collingwood sometime in the early 1980’s. I came in from the west and as I rounded the bend on Huron Street near where the museum is located, I caught my first glimpse of Blue Mountain.
It was early evening on a clear winter day and lights marked the runs on the ski hills.Â It took my breath away. On my right was that massive expanse of Lake Huron called Georgian Bay. It was truly love at first site.
Blue Mountain is much more than a ski hill. It’s part of the Niagara Escarpment (NEC) which in 1990, UNESCO designated as a World Biosphere Reserve naming it as an internationally recognized ecosystem.
The ridge is the most dominant topographical feature of Southern Ontario and it stretches 725 kms from Niagara to Tobermory. The ridge was formed some 450 million years ago when it was the outer rim of a sea called the Michigan Basin.Â At its highest point, it reaches almost 1700 feet and in this area, you can find 1,300 year old living cedar trees among rocky crags.
In 1973, the Niagara Escarpment Development Act was passed which led to the creation of Canada’s first large scale environmental land use plan 12 years later. The plan is intended to guide appropriate land use within this special zone to protect the rich and complex ecosystem.
Any landowner who owns a property that is within the boundaries of the NEC, must apply for an NEC development permit if the wish to build, alter or develop on their lands in an way.
If you are thinking of buying property in the area, you can search the NEC maps online to find out if the property falls into their jurisdiction. You may also wish to see if there are any pending development applications in the vicinity and sometimes, you’ll even find the planners staff reports online.
In my experience, the NEC staff are most helpful, easy to deal with and are good stewards of this special treasure we are blessed to have.
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