By John Bacher
During the Second World War, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was famous for his great speeches.
One of them, which Churchill made following the route of Nazi Germany from Africa, gives one encouragement today. It included the now iconic words; “This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end. It is perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
It may be that the “end of the beginning” is now here for those residents in the Niagara, Ontario area who have been working to rescue five hundred acres of Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls.
At high noon this past Friday, August 19th, Niagara Falls’ Planning Department tabled information confirming that no vote by Niagara Falls City council would take place following a mandatory meeting taking place this August 23rd and required by the province’s Planning Act if that vote has anything to do with permitting the destruction of natural lands in the Thundering Waters Forest.
A Public Meeting under the Planning Act, which is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. at Niagara Falls City Hall, gives citizens a unique opportunity to influence land use planning.
You can put ‘truth to power’ at this Public Meeting without having to make formal appointments. All you have to do is show up and you can be heard. As well as make a straight-forward verbal presentation, people can recite poems, bring paintings, photographs, and present videos if they make prior technical arrangements.
One significant thing that speakers can do is describe all the habitats, along with the rare species that live in the Thundering Waters Forest. There are plenty to choose from.
They include the Monarch Butterfly, Snapping Turtle, Wood Thrush, Eastern Wood Pee-Wee, Eastern Milk Snake, Nine Spotted Lady Beetle, Acadian Flycatcher, Black Gum and Honey Locust. Then there are the rare vegetation communities, including those in vernal pools, such as Rufus Bulrush, and Buttonbush.
There are also regionally rare species to champion to members of the Niagara Falls city council and others. These include the Great Horned Owl, which nests here, and the Blue Spotted Salamander.
The most encouraging aspect of the information the city’s Planning Department tabled this August 19th is a recommendation for the proponents of the proposed residential and commercial development in the Thundering Waters Forest to engage in ongoing consultations with Native people.
This will hopefully lead to the federal and provincial governments to purchase the site to resolve land claim disputes with Indigenous communities and protect the environment through a First Nations Park.
It is to be hoped that as many people as possible will use their right to address Niagara Falls City Council to redress this historic injustice and to speak out for the preservation of what is left of Niagara’s natural heritage lands.
John Bacher is a veteran conservationist in Niagara, Ontario and is the Chair of Greening Niagara
For more on Greening Niagara click on – http://www.greeningniagara.ca/
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