The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition (SCGC) is a regionally focused environmental organization (say that three times fast!), that advocates for expanding Ontario’s Greenbelt, for transparency and accountability in how we make decisions about growth, and for the power of community in addressing many of the challenges we face today.
We strongly believe that better land-use planning is one of the best ways we can enhance our environment and build equity in our communities.
The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition is a not-for-profit group, living wage employer, that was established in 2015 as collaboration between various Simcoe County and provincial organizations aimed at growing the Greenbelt to better protect our water, natural heritage and farmland.
All members of our coalition have agreed in principle to this pledge:
“A healthy environment is critical to our communities’ future. Farmland, water and natural heritage are key components of a healthy environment and thriving economy, and they need better protection.
Thus, I/we pledge to support the expansion of the Greenbelt in Simcoe County, so that current and future generations can benefit from clean water, local food and green spaces.”
Tom Kurtz – Vice President
Tom graduated from University of Windsor in 1964 as a Civil Engineer and went on to achieve a Masters degree specializing in hydraulics and hydrology in 1965.
Tom’s education, professional training and wide ranging involvement in water management activities brings a wealth of experience to the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition. His career with the Ministry of Natural Resources ranged from service and advice to Conservation Authorities, policy development with municipal, provincial, federal and international agencies and support of professional organizations such as the Soil and Water Conservation Society where he served as the Canadian Director on the International Board.
He has been a member of the Oro-Medonte Planning Advisory Committee and is currently on the Steering Committee of AWARE Oro-Medonte and hopes to bring a perspective from that background to the work of the Coalition as well.
Philip Brennan – Treasurer
Phil Brennan retired from the Ontario Public Service in June 2013. In the latter part of his career Phil provided leadership as senior manager in MOE in service integration for the approvals program; the environmental assessment program; and, the Lake Simcoe Project. For a number of years prior to that Phil also worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources in various capacities including Issues Manager for the Deputy Minister, acting District Manager and Forest Management Supervisor.
Phil has an B.Sc. in Forestry from the University of Toronto and a Certificate in Adult Training and Education as a Teacher of English as Second Language, from Seneca College.
Phil is also a Past President of the Ontario Association for Impact Assessment.
Margaret Prophet – Executive Director
Margaret has a Bachelor of Education, specialized in Adult Education and a BA of Psychology from Brock University. She worked in the corporate education sector for 7 years at a Director level including as Director of Communications and Operations. Margaret decided to pursue her love of community and environment by volunteering for her local ratepayers association (Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association) while taking time to raise her family. This lead to her getting involved with complex land-use planning matters and municipal politics as the Communications Director for the association. Her work led to enlisting the support of Margaret Atwood, Maude Barlow and David Crombie in support of the MRA’s call to protect the internationally significant Minesing Wetlands from urban sprawl. In late 2015, Margaret and Sandy Agnew founded the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition with 15 like minded groups from across the region in support of an expanded Greenbelt.
Sandy Agnew – President
Sandy Agnew was trained as a certified chemical engineering technician (Seneca College, 1972) and worked in the fields of waste water treatment, waste disposal and recycling and health and safety. In 1999 he obtained a Post Graduate Certificate in Ecosystem Restoration (Niagara College) and became accredited as a MNRF Managed Forest Plan approver in 2005. Now semi-retired, he worked in the ecological restoration and forest management fields operating his consulting business, Ecosystem Restoration Services from his property in Oro-Medonte Township, on which he established a Conservation Easement through the Couchiching Conservancy.
Sandy served as Councillor in Oro-Medonte Township from 2006 to 2010 and has served on the boards of the Nottawasaga Valley and Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authorities. He currently sits on the provincial Lake Simcoe Coordinating Committee and AWARE Simcoe board as well as chairing the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition. Sandy is also active in numerous other non-government environmental organizations.
Charlene Strudwick – Secretary
Charlene Strudwick studied at Eastern College in Toronto and Georgian College in
Barrie and subsequently received accreditation in the AMCTO.
She began her career with the City of Barrie in 1982 and held several important positions in the Clerk’s Office working with Council and other committees of Council, preparing agendas, minutes, and by-laws. During election terms Charlene acted as Election Assistant and Election Supervisor at the Polls.
In the year 2000, Charlene took on a new role as Executive Assistant to the Mayor for a three-year term. During her tenure in the Mayor’s office, she helped organize the First Annual Mayor’s Charity Golf Tournament; organized a visit by the Honourable Hilary Weston, Lt. Governor of Ontario in 2000 and the Lt. Governor’s Levee hosted by the Honourable James Bartleman in January 2003 to kick off the City of Barrie’s Sesquicentennial Year.
Charlene rejoined the Clerk’s Office in 2003 as Council Support and Information Services Supervisor. In 2010 she again took on the role as Executive Assistant to the Mayor, a position which she held until her retirement in 2013.
Since then Charlene has been very active in volunteer activities in the community including her current role as Secretary of the Coalition. Her wealth of organizational and supervisory skills and experience will serve the Coalition well.
Adam Ballah – Community and Communications
Adam has a Masters and Bachelors of Environmental Studies, both from the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. In his undergrad he focused on identifying and addressing risk and vulnerability associated with climate change, and for his Masters he focused on how modern technology mediates our experience of life.
Adam has been a community organizer and activist for as long as he can remember, spending time working for Greenpeace and Western Canada Wilderness Committee in Vancouver, participating in campaigns against the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, and more recently attempting to address the highly polarized style of debate taking place via social media by organizing community socials addressing politically salient topics.
Adam brings an understanding of political strategy and discourse methods to his work with SCGC’s communications, and a strong belief in the value of community. Adam has been a member of the SCGC since the start, and considers its work crucial to helping foster a healthier and more just society.
Ross Pityk is an Elementary School Teacher, working for the Simcoe County District School Board in Innisfil. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1982 with a BSc.in Geography and Biology, followed by a post graduate degree in Education.
Ross has spent most of his life close to Lake Simcoe, and has been actively involved with initiatives that support the health of the Lake. For the last 17 years he has been a member of the Board of the Innisfil District Association (IDA), including five years as President. The mission of the IDA is to support the long-term sustainable development of the Town of Innisfil while protecting the health of Lake Simcoe and our natural environment. Ross has also worked with several other groups involved in protecting the Lake Simcoe water shed over the years, including RLSC.
Alan McNair has worked as a professional land use planner in Ontario since 1970, in both the public and private sectors. He was a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Ontario Professional Planners Institute from 1978 until retiring in early 2019. Al completed an Honours B.A. in Geography (1969) and additional courses in Economics and Engineering (1970) at McMaster University and a Certificate in Environmental Assessment and Land Use Planning through the Universities of Waterloo and Guelph in 1977.
Al has been actively involved in environmental issues with the Brereton Field Naturalists’ Club (now Nature Barrie) since 1991 and served as Huronia Regional Director of Ontario Nature (2000-2007). He has volunteered with the City of Barrie’s Environmental Advisory Committee, (2011-2018), Climate Change Adaptation and Age-Friendly Communities Strategies and various trail working groups. Al is presently a member of the City’s Active Transportation and Sustainability Advisory Committee.
AWARE Simcoe Bass Lake Ratepayers Association Blue Dot Barrie Blue Dot New Tecumseth Blue Dot Orillia Blue Mountain Watershed Trust Carden Field Naturalists Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation Climate Action Now Barrie Concerned Citizens of Adjala-Tosorontio Concerned Citizens of Ramara Earthroots Eco-Spark Elmvale Foundation Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations (FOTTSA) Food and Water First (NDACT) Friends of Strawberry Island Friends of Simcoe Forests Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Horseshoe Valley Property Owners Association Huronia Land Conservancy Innisfil District Association Lake Simcoe Association Living Green Barrie Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association Midland-Penetanguishine Naturalist Club Nature Barrie North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance Nottawasaga Steelheaders Ontario Farmland Preservation Ontario Headwaters Institute Ontario Nature Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition Save Oro Inc. Save the Oak Ridges Moraine Coalition (STORM) Couchiching Conservancy Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Water is Life: Coalition for Water Justice West Oro Ratepayers Association