Southern Georgian Bay Residents Overwhelming Support Stronger Conservation Measures
Respondents to the Escarpment Corridor Alliance’s survey show support for municipal action as well as the creation of natural corridors and protection of water as environmental priorities.
THE BLUE MOUNTAINS – A pivotal survey of Southern Georgian Bay residents and frequent visitors indicated a majority of people are very concerned about the mega-developments being considered for the region in sensitive environmental areas – and want action from municipal governments. With over 3,000 respondents, this is the first time a survey of this magnitude has been able to put numbers to the growing opposition to mega-developments that threaten sensitive eco-systems in the Niagara Escarpment and risk permanently wiping out the very forests and watersheds that have attracted people to live, work, and play in the region.
Respondents to the survey consistently ranked outdoor activities – such as snowshoeing and skiing in the winter and hiking and swimming in the summer – as their top activities. Also high on the list were visits to local craft beverage makers and culinary activities throughout the year.
“Clearly silent and quiet sports and our booming organic and regenerative farm to table cuisine and artisanal beverage scene attract people to the region,” said Mike Robbins, founding partner at The Tourism Company and former Chairman of the Board with the Washington DC based Centre for Responsible Travel (CREST) and Board member with the Escarpment Corridor Alliance and the Georgian Bay Geopark. “None of that would be possible without protecting the main tourist draw – the green hills and valleys of the escarpment, most particularly the connected green prominent escarpment slopes. Creating permanent natural corridors will further establish and protect a growing conservation economy so important to Southern Georgian Bay.”
The survey also showed a statistically significant concern amongst respondents that governments are not doing enough to protect the very aspects that make living in and visiting Southern Georgian Bay so appealing. 88% of respondents “completely agree[d]” that governments need to preserve green spaces and create a more comprehensive ecosystem corridors in the region. Additionally, respondents felt that municipalities need to oppose major mega-developments, in particular the Castle Glen proposal, Talisman project, and the Huntingwood and Bridgewater developments. Residents in those individual municipalities were clear: municipalities should “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose the projects: 85% in The Blue Mountains (Castle Glen); 89% in Grey Highlands (Talisman), and 84% in Collingwood (Huntingwood and Bridgewater).
Amongst Southern Georgian Bay respondents, the top environmental priorities revolved around corridors and water. The most important environmental element (72%) was protecting broader corridors with natural resources, second (58%) was protecting water quality, third (49%) was protection of water courses, and a close fourth (44%) was connecting natural areas along the escarpment corridor.
“The results clearly show Southern Georgian Bay residents, as well as those who frequent the area, share the same concerns as the ECA does,” said Bruce Harbinson, President of the Escarpment Corridor Alliance. “The environmental priorities directly align with the ECA’s vision. We felt a groundswell of support from when we launched just over a year ago – and now the data demonstrates why.”
The online survey was commissioned by the Escarpment Corridor Alliance and conducted by RMCG Inc. between February 1, 2023 and March 31, 2023. The size of the municipalities’ samples would be within the analytics and insights industry accuracy standards of + or – 5%.
“This is the most robust survey of its kind representing community views from within the region as well as from those who regularly visit,” remarked Robert Wong, Principal with RMCG Inc. “The results are strikingly consistent. Community voices were strong recognizing the natural elements as integral to sustaining Southern Georgian Bay as international destination.”
More information on the survey can be below including the slide deck as well as a video presentation of the results by RMCG Inc.’s Robert Wong, C.A.I.P., F.C.R.I.C. Media are encouraged to reach out at the contact below for more information and interview requests.
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