Don’t Let Them Mow Down and Pave Over What is Left of Niagara’s Natural Heritage
You Are Invited to Two Upcoming Public Consultation Sessions – Happening Virtually On Thursday, June 17th and On Wednesday, June 23rd – Focusing On An ‘Official Plan’ That Will Shape the Way Niagara Grows for Years to Come
A Call-Out from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted June 14th, 2021 on Niagara At Large
Members of our Niagara Regional Council, made up of 20 directly elected Regional Councillors and 12 Mayors of local municipalities across Niagara – will soon be voting on a new Official Plan for the way we grow our region.
The decision they make on what policies and rules are embraced in this Official Plan will have a significant impact, not only on shaping the future of transportation and the infrastructure that supports urban growth, but on how much protection what is left of our green places – our wetlands and watersheds and woodlands, and all of the biodiversity of life they support – receive for the foreseeable future and possibly for generations to come.
Suffice to say any final decision members of Niagara’s Regional Council makes on a new Official Plan – expected as early as this July – is one of the most important decisions it will make for the collective health and prosperity of our collective future for decades to come.
That is why it is so very important that as many Niagara residents have their say in this matter, including contacting their Mayors and directly-elected Regional Councillors, before this final decision on a new Official Plan is made.
It is why members of our Niagara Regional Council need to hear from everyday citizens across Niagara, and not just lobbyists from the home-building and development industry who, in far too many cases, are pressing Mayors and Councillors to approve the weakest plans possibly so that they can go on paving over what is left of our precious natural heritage as if 20th Century era of low-density urban sprawl will never stop.
If these developers are allowed to carry on with past business as usual with the buzz saws and bulldozers, even more of what little we have left of our tree canopy, our wetlands and other natural features will be lost under asphalt and concrete forever.
For that reason, many individual citizens, along with a large coalition of conservation and nature groups across Niagara, campaigning for green protection under the name of Biodiversity and Climate Change Niagara, is urging members of our Niagara Regional Council to include in this new Official Plan something called ‘Option 3C’ as opposed to a weaker, more watered down Option B for protecting what is left of Niagara’s “natural environmental system.”
Terms like ‘Option 3C’ and ‘Option 3B’ are almost enough to make most people’s eyes glaze over. BUT DON’T LET THEM because the difference between the two makes all of the difference in the world when it comes to saving what is left of our natural heritage.
To put it simply, Option 3C gives Niagara Region’s Council and Planning Department some degree of oversight over urban planning decisions our 12 local municipalities make inside their urban areas or so-called settlement areas. It gives our Regional level of government some say over the fate of wetlands, woodlots, natural linkages and the like inside urban areas that are vital to protecting and preserving some healthy biodiversity for us all.
Option 3B would cut any Regional say inside local urban boundaries out – leaving the natural heritage inside to the fate of local council members who often face tremendous pressure from the development industry to bulldoze over those natural features so they can carry on with business as usual.
At a full session of Niagara Regional Council this May, just as it appeared that there was enough support for Option C, just enough Mayors and Councillors, including the usual suspects who tend to do the bidding of 20th Century dinosaurs in the development and building industry, managed to get a motion passed that kept the weaker Option 3B on the table for another vote this July.
We’ll probably never be able to prove it, but it certainly looked like a move by the ‘pro-develop-at-further-cost-to-our-natural-heritage’ faction, to kick the Option 3C can down the road, hoping that members of the Niagara public who support 3C will grow tired or discouraged and go away.
We cannot let that happen or those dinosaurs in the development industry and the municipal representatives who, for whatever reason support them, win.
And if they win, those who lose will include current and future generations who live in Niagara, and who want and need communities that can only remain healthy and prosperous if we live in harmony with nature.
In that spirit, please contact your Mayors and directly elected Councillors at the local and Regional level and let them know that you insist on Option 3C being approved this July in Niagara Region’s Official Plan.
Here is a link for the list of Niagara Regional Councillors, including Municipal Mayors, that you can visit to obtain their contact information – https://www.niagararegion.ca/government/council/profiles/default.aspx .
The information for them, including a link for registering to participate in one or both of them is included directly below –
Virtual Public Information Centre: Connected Region
This virtual public information centre will include a presentation and Q&A session, to discuss two topics including draft policies, for Transportation and Infrastructure as they relate to the development of the new Niagara Official Plan.
Please register anytime leading up to the webinar to attend.
This public consultation session is the 4th of 5 sessions held in June 2021 to consult with the public on draft policy and various aspects of the new Niagara Official Plan.
Please continue to check our website at http://www.niagararegion.ca/official-plan/ for the dates and times of all our upcoming virtual public information centres.
(Thursday) Jun 17, 2021 06:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Here is the Link for registering to the Thursday, June 17th session – https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_E16kLvJcQfyjhVAIZKRlOQ .
Virtual Public Information Centre: Sustainable Region
This virtual public information centre will include a presentation and Q&A session, to discuss topics including the Natural Environment System, Watershed Planning and Climate Change as they relate to the development of the new Niagara Official Plan.
Please register anytime leading up to the webinar to attend.
This public consultation session is the 5th of 5 sessions held in June 2021 to consult with the public on draft policy and various aspects of the new Niagara Official Plan.
Please continue to check our website at www.niagararegion.ca/official-plan/ for the dates and times of all our upcoming virtual public information centres.
Time – (Wednesday), June 23, 2021 06:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Here is the Link for the June 23rd session –https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jKsiD5VqTpuvxs3bLl1QcQ
Here are a few related pieces recently posted on Niagara At Large on this issue –
NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.