A Brief History of CONE and Protection of the Niagara Escarpment

1962   An aggregate company blasts a large gap out of the Niagara Escarpment cliff near Milton (called the “Dufferin Gap” and still clearly visible from Highway 401), igniting public concern about degredation of the Escarpment.
1968   University of Waterloo planning professor Len Gertler completes the first-ever report on protecting the Niagara Escarpment, commissioned in 1967 by Premier John Robarts.
1973   The Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act is passed by the Ontario Legislature and the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) is established.
1975   Development control on the Niagara Escarpment begins, implemented by the NEC.
1978   The provincial government issues preliminary proposals for a plan to protect the Escarpment.

Lyn MacMillan founds CONE with an eight member steering committee and the support of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists. CONE initially has five member organizations and ten individual members.

Pressure from CONE stops Cantrakon, a proposed executive retreat centre on the Escarpment in Caledon.

CONE succeeds in getting NEC meetings opened to the public for the first time.
1979   The NEC releases the proposed Niagara Escarpment Plan. It is supported by many public interest groups, although the negative reaction from many private property owners and municipalities was intense.
1980   CONE takes an active role in public hearings on the proposed Niagara Escarpment Plan that would last more than two years.
1983   Hearing officers independent of the Niagara Escarpment Commission release their recommendations to the provincial Minister responsible for the Escarpment.
1984   The final recommended Niagara Escarpment Plan is submitted to the Ontario Cabinet.
1985   After extensive review and one full year, the Cabinet of Premier William Davis adopts the Niagara Escarpment Plan.

CONE founder Lyn MacMillan is appointed to the NEC and remains on the commission for five years.
1990   The southern Ontario portion of the Niagara Escarpment is designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Minister of the Environment Jim Bradley initiates the first five-year review of the Niagara Escarpment Plan.
1991   CONE takes an active role in public hearings on the first five-year review of the Niagara Escarpment Plan.
1994   The new Niagara Escarpment Plan is approved by the Ontario Cabinet.

New solid waste disposal sites – including landfill expansions and incinerators – are banned within the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area.
1995   CONE receives the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario’s Conservation Award for “outstanding achievements in conserving and protecting the natural environment in Ontario.”
1998   CONE publishes the 104-page Protecting the Niagara Escarpment: A Citizen’s Guide.
1999   Minister of Natural Resources initiates the second five-year review of the Niagara Escarpment Plan.
2000   CONE releases its first report card on the performance of each member of the NEC.

CONE lobbies to block the building of a winery resort in the Niagara Escarpment countryside near Vineland on the Niagara Peninsula and is successful when Cabinet rejects the project.

CONE’s road sign program is launched in Dufferin County, announcing the Niagara Escarpment, a World Biosphere Reserve, on roads entering the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area.
2001   CONE takes an active role in the second five-year review of the Niagara Escarpment Plan.
2002   The Niagara Escarpment Foundation, a registered charity and CONE’s sister organization, is established to undertake research and education initiatives.
2003   CONE accepts its 30th member organization – Friends of Short Hills Park.

CONE’s 25th anniversary coincides with its receipt of the
Spirit of the Biosphere Award from the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association for “longstanding commitment to the principles of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve.”

CONE creates the Lyn McMillan Award in honour of CONE’s founder. The Award is to recognize the extraordinary contribution of individuals in the service of Escarpment protection.
2006   The Ontario Cabinet upholds the application by Dufferin Aggregates to expand their its Milton Quarry, already the largest in Canada. CONE and its member group Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources (POWER) strenuously fought the proposed expansion area into land predominantly located within the NEP Area.



CONE celebrates its 30th anniversary.

CONE releases its water policy paper, a technical assessment of the need to change and upgrade the water science of the Niagara Escarpment Plan that is enthusiastically received by the NEC.




CONE joins five environmental oganizations and six aggregate industry players to establish a certification system for aggregate operators in Ontario. The collective is known as the Aggregate Forum of Ontario. 

Lyn MacMillan is awarded the NEC's Lifetime Niagara Escarpment Achievement Award on May 8 in Toronto.