“Niagara has already lost 90 per cent of its wetlands and yet the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority seeks approval to use biodiversity offsets to destroy first growth forested wetlands to make way for development.”
From Ed Smith for Concerned Citizens of Niagara
Posted April 4th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
St. Catharines, Ontario – As reported this past March 31st, 2016 in local newspapers, Niagara Region’s planning and development committee is calling for the destruction of 13 acres of provincially-significant wetlands to allow development of the 486 acres of property near Thundering Waters Golf Club funded by the real-estate arm of the Chinese government.
A group of concerned Niagara citizens, scientists and environmental groups will be asking Minister Mauro to deny the proposed destruction of valuable habitat to make room for a $1 billion Niagara Falls development.
“Wetlands are vital for our survival. They are cradles of biological diversity that provide the water and productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival,” says Ed Smith, speaking for Concerned Citizens of Niagara, a grass roots movement to protect Niagara’s environment.
“Niagara has already lost 90 per cent of its wetlands and yet the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority seeks approval to use biodiversity offsets to destroy first growth forested wetlands to make way for this development.”
Brought forward by Grimsby Councilor. Tony Quirk, the motion will seek final approval from regional council at its Thurday, April 7th meeting which gets underway at 6:30 p.m. inthe Niagara Regional Headquarters building located off St. David’s Road, Merrittville Highway and Schmon Parkway , in the City of Thorold and across the intersection from the main entrance to Brock University .
Earlier this year, more than 300 citizens attended a presentation by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) at Ball’s Falls on their proposal to use biodiversity offsets to facilitate development in the Region. The individuals attending came from many organizations representing thousands of Niagara residents and First Nations bands.
Smith volunteered to help organize the voice opposing this strategy. Since then he has been inundated with calls and emails supporting his initiative.
In their ‘Response to the Conservation Authorities Act Discussion Paper’, the NPCA requested permission to short circuit existing environmental reviews. “At times, given the layers of regulatory instruments (such as Places to Grow, Greenbelt Plan, Niagara Escarpment Plan and the Conservation Authorities Act), municipalities are challenged in managing their growth.
In this regard, conservation authorities should be given the opportunity to introduce biodiversity offsetting.”
According to botanist Albert Garafalo, former Vice Chair of the Region of Niagara Environmental & Ecological Advisory Committee ”Biodiversity offsets are inappropriate in places like the Niagara region where species and habitats are too rare to lose and are impossible to replicate. “
Niagara’s unique forested wetlands are home to many rare woodlands and features including: provincially rare Black Gum trees, Pin Oak treed swamps, Buttonbush thicket swamps and species at risk including Jefferson Salamanders and Round Leaved Greenbrier vine.
“We do not know why development in our few remaining wetlands is being championed by our own Conservation Authority.” said Smith. “We do know that If their requests are approved, the incremental losses that would occur will accelerate the trend of habitat declines of Niagara’s unique natural ecology.”
Our grass roots movement is growing. We’re asking the Ontario government not to approve this plan, and we are asking Niagara Regional Council not to endorse any motions that will expedite the process.”
Anyone wanting to volunteer or support this effort should come to the regional council meeting on April 7th . For more information contact Ed Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
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