Ontario’s Natural Resources Minister Urged Stop Plan To Destroy Protected Wetland Area In Niagara For Development

“Please take action and do what you can to put a halt to this travesty before uninformed decision makers allow it to proceed without appropriate safeguards to enforce the protection of “Provincially Protected Area of Global significance.”

An Open Letter to Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Bill Mauro from concerned Niagara Falls resident Linda Babb

Posted April 11th, 2016 on Niagara At Large

(NAL was sent a copy of this letter and sought and received permission from its author, Linda Babb, to post it here. We believe this letter helps inform the debate over a controversial bid by some of our municipal leaders and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority to “offset” a protected wetland area in the Niagara River watershed for urban development, and we hope it inspires others in the community to share their concerns with their representatives at all levels of government.)

Dear Minister Mauro

Your portfolio bears responsibility for overseeing the activities of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and other Conservation Authorities across the province.biodiversity sign better

The NPCA was created by, and is subject to, the provisions of Ontario’s Conservation Authorities Act.

What we are witnessing appears to be flagrant contravention of, and disregard for, Provincially Protected Wetlands although “wetlands” encompasses four categories under that designation. Three of such areas identified and designated as “wetlands” may be “offset” safely. The fourth, the old growth slough forest with vernal pools and endangered wildlife cannot be offset.

This is a long email because it is important and I wish to provide you with all the pertinent information and the situation we face.

Do you take your “responsibility for Natural Resources” (and the environment) seriously? Are you willing to throw Provincially designated. protected areas, under your stewardship, under the bulldozer to satisfy offshore investment?

I write to draw your attention to and emphasize the serious importance of a critical issue in the Niagara Region, specifically Niagara Falls. Please do not dismiss it as “just another ‘tree hugger’ protest”. https://www.niagarafalls.ca/city-hall/planning/thundering-waters.aspx https://www.niagarafalls.ca/pdf/planning/projects/thundering-waters-presentation.pdf

Many electors in our area knew of the proposal in January and attended a meeting to register their concerns. More of us became aware when the Regional Council met on April 7 to push the proposal through, this time 200 people attended to encourage the representatives elected by the people to defeat the resolution to “bulldoze it through”.wetland

The matter is finally on the Agenda for Niagara Falls City Council on April 12. I say finally because most residents of Niagara Falls knew very little about the whole proposal and the potential impact it could have.

Presentations were made on April 7, by knowledgeable individuals who advised that the area in question is a Provincially Protected area. It is a slough forest, which CANNOT be “offset” – cannot be replaced, cannot be “replicated” – the trees are “old growth”, “Old Growth” took hundreds of years to GROW.

The trees, the wildlife, the entire ecosystem cannot be picked up and put somewhere else, it is biologically impossible. Some of North America’s oldest hardwood trees persist in obscurity, and in peril. Nate Torenvliet describes finding a 580-year-old black gum tree in the Niagara region of Ontario. http://www.ancientforest.org/ontarios-black-gums/ This video was shown – excellent demonstration of what is at stake

Furthermore, every decision maker should watch this brilliant presentation by a 20-year-old man, born in Niagara on the Lake, on our relationship with, and effect on, the environment. “Wilderness = Nature uncensored” The Biophilic World | Owen Bjorgan | TEDxGuelphU TEDTalk 21 minutes

I am not privy to the agreement reached between Premier Wynne and Xincheng Real Estate Fund in Beijing when a $100 million investment was announced towards Paradise, a new attraction and residential development in Niagara Falls.

The development is led by China-based GR Investment Group, which has purchased 484 acres of property located west of Marineland and adjacent to Thundering Waters Golf Club.

Please read the proposal and see how misleading the marketing is. It is an up-scale development, which will do nothing to address the unemployment in our area or contribute anything to the quality of life of current residents.

Consider what has happened in Vancouver in particular and British Columbia as a whole, resulting from offshore money rendering housing unaffordable there. Are we now saying that all of Canada and our land are for sale to any highest bidder? Do we really want our unique environment turned into sea-to-sea housing and freeways? Didn’t we allow a peach orchard to be sold to the Chinese, which virtually destroyed the very identity of part of the Niagara Peninsula? Where does it stop?

I ask you, as the Minister responsible, to look into this matter aggressively. British Columbia has set a bad example with regard to old growth; Ontario has very little left. Do Chinese dollars count for more than irreplaceable ecosystems? Is yet another “development”, aimed at “empty nesters” of more value than Provincially Protected Habitat?

Please take action and do what you can to put a halt to this travesty before uninformed decision makers allow it to proceed without appropriate safeguards to enforce the protection of “Provincially Protected Area of Global significance. Premier Wynne is also vulnerable in this regard, many people are highly suspicious of what has gone on without public knowledge. Linda Babb Niagara Falls

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.



2 responses to “Ontario’s Natural Resources Minister Urged Stop Plan To Destroy Protected Wetland Area In Niagara For Development

  1. Sheila Krekorian

    Great letter from Ms Babb.
    The young man in the video, Owen Bjorgan, warned Niagara Regional Council on April 7 not to be sucked in to the “three for one” offsetting scheme that Bruce Timms and the gang are trying to sell us with respect to trading our “provincially signficant wetland” for a promise of three times the quantity of man-made wetland in return. This dynamic young man explained that we shouldnt confuse “quantity” of wetland with “quality”.
    This whole premise reminds me of the old Popye cartoon where the character Wimpy says “Ill gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” and while you want to help the guy, you just know he wont be able to pay you on Tuesday. If we give the guy the hamburger we have to do so knowing we are NOT going to be paid back on Tuesday.
    Please readers follow Linda Babb’s lead and inundate Minister Mauro with letters telling him Niagarans are not willing to sell it’s precious commodity of “provincially significant wetlands” to the highest bidder in exchange for a cheap facimile.


  2. One of the protected wetlands they are proposing to build on is a watercourse, which will be buried and built over for lots. This was one of a number of areas on the site, which was hastily shown by the developer’s consultant at regional council last week. No paper copies were left so that people could carefully study what is being proposed. Burying streams for subdivision lots is a step backwards in Ontario-the last time this was done in the province was in Ontario, in Niagara Falls in the 1990s.


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