Niagara Region’s Two-Minutes-To Midnight Release Of “Biodiversity Offsetting” Report Begs The Question – Are They Trying To Pull A Fast One?

A Brief Comment from Doug Draper, publisher Niagara At Large, WITH MORE TO COME LATER!

Posted April 7th, 2016 on Niagara At Large

(Apologies in advance for typos etc. on this one. It had to be posted in a hurry – NAL)

Are they trying to pull a fast one on pushing through this “biodiversity offsetting” – that can more bluntly defined as gutting of wetlands and wildlife habit” – being sold like a bill of goods to us by a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority that couldn’t give a damn about its conservation mandate any more?

Of course they are!

The not so well hidden agenda here is to get this biodiversity offsetting scheme, which they know damn well has raised a high level of public concern,  through the regional council process as quickly as they can – like crap through a goose!

Niagara, Ontario's regional government headquarters

Niagara, Ontario’s regional government headquarters

The Niagara regional government sent out the following memorandum – the only report that has been disclosed to the public so far on a billion dollar development project in Niagara Falls that would involve destroying about 13 acres of protected wetland – two hours before the regional council is expected to discuss and possibly vote on moving forward with it this Thursday, April 7 evening.

They have known about this project for at least five months now, yet they wait until the last minute to make any kind of report available, not only to the public but to elected members of the regional council.

Here is the report and Niagara At Large and our many affiliates on both sides of the Canada/US. Border in the Niagara River watershed that stands to be affected by this mischief will have much more to say about all of this later.

In the meantime, to the extent Niagara Regional Chair Al Caslin claims to run an open and transparent administration for the people of Niagara, he ought to be ashamed on this one.

Planning and Development Services Memorandum Date: April 7, 2016

1815 Sir Isaac Brock Way, PO Box 1042, Thorold, ON L2V 4T7

To: Regional Council

From: Rino Mostacci, MCIP, RPP, Commissioner of Planning and Development

Telephone: 905-980-6000 Toll-free: 1-800-263-7215 Fax: 905-641-5208

Subject: Background Information, Thundering Waters Secondary Plan (Paradise at Niagara Falls), City of Niagara Falls, http://www.niagararegion.ca .

At the Planning and Development Committee meeting on March 30, 2016, the following motion was considered with regard to Thundering Waters Secondary Plan in Niagara Falls:

“Whereas the Premier of Ontario has recently participated with the Mayor of Niagara Falls on a trade mission to China; and

Whereas the Premier signed a Memorandum of Understanding representing significant direct foreign investment in the Niagara Region; and

Whereas the Province has identified allowing Bio-Diversity Offsetting as a potential policy direction in its recent white paper on Wetlands; and

Whereas the proposed development is partially encumbered by Provincially Significant Wetlands, but not old-growth marshes or slue forests;

Therefore be it resolved that Regional Council support a pilot project and ask the Province to allow for biodiversity Offsetting of wetlands for the development in Niagara Falls known as the Paradise Development to facilitate the proponent’s proposal that increases the net area of wetland and supports and encourage the significant foreign direct investment being offered.”

Paradise at Niagara Falls” (Helen Chang, Chair, GR (CAN) Investment Co., Ltd.) is the project name for a major proposed development within The Thundering Waters Secondary Plan area of Niagara Falls. The site is located in the southwest portion of the City’s urban area. (see Appendix 1). The Secondary Plan area is located east of Dorchester Road, south of Oldfield Road, north of the Welland River and east of the Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG) Canal.

The proposed development is large and comprehensive in nature and envisions a mix of residential, recreational, institutional and commercial uses. The developer and its consultant team are working on a number of studies (environmental studies, servicing, land use compatibility, etc.) in order to facilitate the future development of the lands. The Secondary Plan is being prepared by the proponent in consultation with the City of Niagara Falls, Niagara Region and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.

The area encompasses about 270 hectares (675 acres) of land of which approximately 113 ha. (283 acres) are identified as either Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs) or other type natural heritage feature.

The vision for the area includes preservation and enhancement of virtually all of the on-site natural heritage features. There have been discussions with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) relative to re-designating three isolated PSW areas (4.9 ha./12.1 acres total) so that these areas could be regulated as Locally Significant Wetlands by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), to accommodate the development concept. The applicant essentially is proposing to enhance existing PSW areas and create some new PSW areas to “offset” the proposed re-designation to ultimately create a greater amount of PSW within the Plan area.

The concept of “biodiversity offsetting” involves the restoration, enhancement and creation of new wetlands to compensate (in this case adjacent to existing wetlands) with the objective of “no net loss” of wetlands. While current Provincial regulation does not allow offsetting to occur; the Province may consider this approach in the future as suggested in their recent Wetlands Discussion Paper. The applicant and its environmental consultants are continuing their discussions with the MNRF with regard to exploring the mutual benefit of using this site as a biodiversity offsetting pilot.

The applicant and its consulting team will be appearing at the Niagara Falls Council on April 26, 2016 to present the development concept. The City of Niagara Falls held the first open house on September 15, 2015 to introduce the development concept to the public. A second open house has been scheduled for April 27, 2016. It is anticipated that the developer will seek City Council endorsement of the development concept. It is also possible that they will request City Council’s support the notion of “Biodiversity Offsetting” for the Provincially Significant Wetlands as noted above.

Planning & Development Services is supportive of the development concept and also supportive of the consideration of appropriate biodiversity offsetting opportunities.

The City of Niagara Falls is the lead in considering this development and has scheduled a Public Meeting on April 26, 2016. Regional Planning Staff references that consideration of the recommendation on Biodiversity Offsetting Pilot Project from the Planning and Development Committee meeting on March 30, 2016 regarding the Thundering Waters Secondary Plan in Niagara Falls could be reflected upon after such time as Council for the City of Niagara Falls has considered the development concept and the biodiversity offsetting pilot project at its meeting being held on April 26, 2016.

Respectfully submitted and signed by,

Rino Mostacci, MCIP, RPP,, Commissioner of Planning and Development

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.

 

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One response to “Niagara Region’s Two-Minutes-To Midnight Release Of “Biodiversity Offsetting” Report Begs The Question – Are They Trying To Pull A Fast One?

  1. Sheila Krekorian

    I have presented to Council on a number of occassions and not once did Casin or previous Chair Burroughs call me at home to advise me of the presentation rules-let alone twice.
    I responded to Brian Baty’s facebook page asking why the NRC adgenda on line hadnt been adjusted to show that the motion was off the table. Crickets.
    Andy was right on with the Joni Mitchell song:
    Don’t it always seem to go
    That you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?
    They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot

    Like

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