Forest defenders planning to take their conservation message to August 22nd Niagara Falls city council meeting
A Update from NAL reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted August 21st, 2017 on Niagara At Large
The week-long campout several Niagara citizens staged in Thundering Waters Forest may be over but their campaign to save the 484 acres of forest, wetlands and savannah grasses from a development plan they fear will forever degrade this place as a natural filter for air and water, and as a haven for wildlife goes on, the citizens say.
“We have momentum and we have larger and larger numbers of people who have picked up on this issue and what is at stake her for our environment,” Owen Bjorgan, a university graduate in environmental sciences and one of the citizens who spent seven days and nights camping in the Thundering Waters Forest in the south-western end of Niagara Falls, Ontario told Niagara At Large this August 21st.
Bjorgan and others who were part of the August 13th to 20th campout plan on showing up at this Tuesday’s August 22nd Niagara Falls city council where they hope to be granted a few moments at the podium to build on a case, made by many other Niagara citizens for more than a year now, for saving these lands as a natural heritage area and for finding a China government-backed developer, GR Canada, another place in the region to build a residential and commercial development project they claim is worth more than $1 billion to the economy.
“We are not anti-development,” said Bjorgan. “We are just saying that this kind of urban development would be more appropriate somewhere else.”
And according to number of sources who have worked in the planning field for municipal governments in Niagara, there are many other places in the region that are inside the urban boundaries to build on that do not host wetlands and other significant natural features that could be degraded or destroyed.
There is no need to urge the Ontario government to compromise its natural resource and environmental protection designations and rules to build in an area that houses some of the last of what’s left of the provincially significant wetlands in the region, many critics of the development plans for Thundering Waters Forest say.
In one of the final messages Bjorgan posted on Facebook during the seventh and final day of the campout, he decribed, as he and others have several times in the past, the rich diversity of life in Thundering Waters Forest.
In a morning walk, Bjorgan said, he came across “ frogs literally scattered in some spots.”
“I found half a dozen blue spotted salamanders – large and healthy looking individuals too. Sizeable stands of shagbark hickory and pin oak growing in or near the swamp water. Wild hops, he said.
“It is insane to consider altering or harming this fragile ecosystem. Educate yourselves and build elsewhere.”
In another Facebook message he said it would be good for Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati and others, including politicians sitting on the board of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, to do what other municipal politicians and many other residents of Niagara did last week, and join him and others on a tour of Thundering Waters as it now is.
Perhaps, they would be inspired by what (so many others who visitied the camp over the past week) saw and learned.
When Diodati was asked by a local newspaper this past August 14th for a response to camp-out by the citizens, he was quoted saying; “I’m really not to sure what I can say about protesters illegally trespassing on private property.”
Bjorgan told Niagara At Large the mayor may be laying the ‘illegal trespassing’ line on him and the others camped out last week because their save the forest campaign “doesn’t fit in with his agenda.”
What about all of the years of people going into that forest to dump garbage or hunt or drink or do drugs, he asked.
If you are interested in watching the Tuesday August 22st Niagara Falls city council meeting to see how the meeting unfolds around the citizen campers showing up to speak about Thundering Waters Forest, the meeting scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. and you can try watching it live on Youtube by clicking on –
. You can also try clicking on the same link later, at a time of your convenience, to what a saved video of the same meeting.
For more on this issue and related topics, visit Own Bjorgan’s Facebook page at – https://www.facebook.com/owen.bjorgan.7
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