A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted March 22th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – As public concern grows over what the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority is up to with its recent fetish over something called “biodiversity off-setting,” to play around with what’s left of the region’s wetlands, I posted a piece late this February urging Niagara At Large readers to take their concerns directly to the NPCA’s board of directors.
In this age of fear and loathing and online, where many say they feel a reluctance to use the internet to express their views on hot topics, at least some of you took advantage of a list we posted here of board members’ names and email addresses, to express your concerns over this thing being packaged by the NPCA and provincial government as “biodiversity off-setting.”
One person who did was Niagara, Ontario residents Sheila Krekorian and Joe Skura, who received responses from only two of the NPCA’s .14 board members – the board’s chair Bruce Timms, who is also a Niagara regional councillor for the City of St. Catharines, and Brian Baty, who is a regional councillor for the Town of Pelham.
Interestingly enough, and however much the rest of us may take issue with the responses Sheila received from Timms and Baty, they were at least more informative on the issue at hand than anything NPCA staff or board members shared with an audience of more than 200 Niagara area citizens at a public meeting this past January.
At that January 27th meeting, held at the NPCA’s Ball’s Falls Centre on January, members of the public who pay taxes for this so-called “conservation authority” and who drove narrow, two-lane roads on a dark cold night to get to this meeting, were treated to more almost an hour-and-a-half of grade-school presentations on ecology that had nothing to do with the issue at hand before they finally had a chance to ask questions.
Then when one member of the audience specifically asked for the NPCA’s definition of biodiversity off-setting, it couldn’t give one. Nor could it offer any iron-clad guarantees that it could construct a new wetland that would perform the same vital services for wildlife and natural waterways than the wetland it would allow destroyed through the offsetting process.
But few if any were fooled by all of this beating around what is really at stake here for what is left of Niagara’s natural areas.
Just as the term “enhanced interrogation techniques” is code for torture, biodiversity off-setting is code for allowing a developer to destroy a natural wetland area for housing or some other asphalt or concrete construction, then attempting to build a suitable facsimile of that wetland someplace else.
And oh, by the way, in the hope of keeping the tree huggers and dicky bird lovers from kicking up too much of a fuss, the NPCA is floating the idea of replacing every acre or hectare of natural wetland it destroys with at least three acres or hectares replicated in a place that, for the time being at least, is not in the bulldozer’s way.
But now, and with Sheila Krekorian’s permission, here is the note she and Joe Skura sent to members of NPCA’s board, along with the responses they received back from board members Bruce Timms and Brian Baty –
Here is our email to Bruce Timms of Februray 18th, 2016: Bruce: you know darn well this idea is a really bad one. You cannot re-create what Mother Nature has created no matter how much money you throw at it. We expect you to protect Niagara’s land, not sell it to the highest bidder and “offset” it with a cheap imitation. Sheila Krekorian and Joe Skura
Response fromBruce Timms; Much of the land we are discussing were cleared for Forming 100 years ago the ignored for 20 years and returned to slew forest like they were before our ancestors cleared them, we can restore any of the clear land very quickly, and the benefit will last for many years, we are talking 3 Acres restored for one Acre turned into employment land or homes. We are not talking about wainfleet bog or heartland forest as some have suggested. Let’s continue the conversation. You are quite right, we are not talking ground truthed provincially significant wetlands.
Response from Brian Baty: The position of NPCA is to provide a serious scientific study on a limited basis (i.e. 3 sites in Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake) to determine potential success with a potential bonus of a 3X increase in resulting wetlands. I invite you to talk with our restoration staff to learn of past and current successes. Particularly I would welcome a tour of the E.C. Brown conservation area in Pelham near the Central Niagara Airport by you to see firsthand the created wetland. Perhaps in late May or June when the plentiful natural species are active. Thanks for including me in your communication!
Now here is the list of those who sit on the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s Board of Directors, along with their email addresses so you can, if youwish, send them your views on this issue.
The list begins with the NPCA’s chief administrative officer, who’s inbox should be choked every day with complaints from us about where he and the current board is taking this body that should be a voice for protecting and preserving what is left of our natural spaces.
Carmen D’Angelo, Chief Administrative Officer, Phone 905-788-3135 x.251,Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Sandy Annunziata, Vice-Chair, Town of Fort Eriesandy.email@example.com
Councillor Brian Baty, Member, Town of Pelham firstname.lastname@example.org
Stewart Beattie, Member, City of Hamilton email@example.com
Dominic DiFruscio, Member, City of Thorold, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Jim Diodati, Member, City of Niagara Falls, 905-356-7521 ext. 4201 email@example.com
Councillor Bill Hodgson, Member, Town of Lincoln firstname.lastname@example.org
James Kaspersetz, Member, City of Hamilton email@example.com
Mayor Douglas Joyner, Member, Township of West Lincoln firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor John Maloney, Member, City of Port Colborne, 905-835-2900 ext. email@example.com
Councillor Tony Quirk, Member. Town of Grimsby firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Rob Shirton, Member, Haldimand County email@example.com
Following is the names and contact information for the Niagara, Ontario area’s four provincial members of parliaments (MPP). They should be engaged in this issue because the NPCA was created by and is subject to the provisions of Ontario’s Conservation Authorities Act.
St. Catharines Riding – Liberal MPP Jim Bradley, 2 Secord Drive, Unit 2 St. Catharines L2N 1K8 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 905-935-0018
Welland Riding – NDP MPP Cindy Forster, 60 King Street, Canal View Welland, Ontario L3B 6A4, 905-732-6884, email@example.com
Niagara Falls Riding, NDP MPP Wayne Gates, 6746 Morrison Street Niagara Falls, Ontario L2E 6Z8, 905-357-0681,
Niagara West-Glanbrook Riding, Progressive Conservative MPP Tim Hudak, 4961 King Street East Beamsville, Ontario L0R 1B0, 1-800-665-3697, firstname.lastname@example.org
You should also consider expressing your concerns to the Ontario Cabinet Minister whose portfolio links with the activities of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and other Conservation Authorities across the province. Contact Bill Mauro, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, by clicking on the following –
email@example.com , Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Suite 6630, 6th Floor, Whitney Block 99 Wellesley Street West Toronto, Ontario M7A 1W3 – 416-314-2301
And finally , one of the items on social media that is receiving a huge number of hits is a short video produced by Niagara native Owen Bjorgan who is studying biodiversity at Guelph University,which I am going to post again for you to view right here. Please click on and give it a watch, then share it with others.
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.
Visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary for and from the greater bi-national Niagara region.