Public Opposition To NPCA’s “Biodiversity Offsetting” Idea Is Mounting
A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted February 5th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – A citizen’s movement is growing in Niagara and beyond to crush any plan by of all government bodies – the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority – to destroy what is left of the region’s natural wetlands to make way for housing and other development.
On a nippy Wednesday night, late this January more than 200 people – some of them aging environmentalists like me, but many of them young and determined not to let governments do more to wreck any more of this planet for their future – drove the dark country roads of Lincoln and surrounding communities to a meeting room in the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s Ball’s Falls Centre for Conservation for an “information session” on something the NPCA’s board and top brass are calling “biodiversity offsetting.”
After the NPCA’s chief administrative officer Carmen D’Angelo put good front-line staff at the Conservation Authority through close to an hour and a half of making presentations about geography and biology that had little or nothing to do with what the people had come to address, many in the audience were growing fed-up.
“This isn’t what we came here for,” shouted one woman near the back. “If you could hear our voices instead of just speaking to us. … please!”
D’Angelo replied to this and other requests from members of the audience to finally let them have a turn by insisting that “a key part of preparing is to listen to the community and that is what we are doing.”
What the NPCA may be “preparing” is an application to the Ontario government to let it use the Niagara area as a location for running a “pilot” on this thing called “biodivesity offsetting.” But when the staff presentations finally ended and members of the audience asked D’Angelo and company to define what “biodivesity offsetting” is, a staff person finally replied by saying; “We have not gotten to a point where we have found a definition.”
That’s right. More than 200 people had come out to an “information session” the NPCA was hosting on a chilly winter night out in the sticks and it could not offer up its own definition of what it was supposed to be there talking about.
But after all the word ringing from D’Angelo about how the NPCA has to strike a “balance” between conservation and “economic development,” and about how challenging it is for developers to put up houses or other buildings, parking lots and roads, etc. near or around real wetlands and about how it might be possible to let the developer do whatever in that area and construct an even larger facsimile of the old wetland someplace else, it was becoming abundantly clear what “biodiversity offsetting” is.
It is a weasel term some word doctor has come up with to mask the act of destroying more natural habitat to make way for urban development. And what guarantee is there that the habitat destroyed could be replicated somewhere else in the Niagara watershed?
When asked, the NPCA could not offer one other than to say “the best we can do is create suitable habitat. …. That is probably the best we can do.”
That was enough for many in the audience who applauded former Thorold mayor and Niagara regional councillor Robin Brock for standing up and asking D’Angelo and company “how to stop this” before all kinds of time and money is spent on staff and consultants trying to do something she believes should not be done at all.
In the days since that late January meeting, there has been a great deal of back and forth traffic in the social media from people in and outside the Niagara area who are determined to stop any further consideration of this biodiversity offsetting business now.
Also circulating online is a powerful video produced and narrated by citizen environmentalists Owen Bjorgan on this issue which I urge you to view by clicking on the following link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KNCDaY8E1Q
Further to that, a new group is organizing and growing in numbers and is inviting anyone who is interested or concerned about this issue to join it at a meeting this Saturday, February 6th at 7pm at Mahtay Cafe, located at 241 St. Paul Street in downtown St. Catharines.
Meanwhile, Niagara At Large will be providing more information on how you can get involved in stopping this possible rape of what is left of Niagara’s wetlands by a body that should be protecting them in the days and weeks ahead.
NOW IT IS YOUR TURN. Niagara At Large encourages you to share your views on this post. A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who share their first and last name with them.
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