Local Conservation News

 

Bridge out of Parkway plan for good? Don’t bet on it.

Letter to the Editor, Peterborough Examiner, October 12, 2017

The removal of the bridge through Jackson Park from the Parkway plan would be a welcome proposal — if it didn’t cause so many other problems and leave so many serious concerns unresolved. The problem of public trust remains and is undoubtedly a reason why the Minister’s order for an Individual Environmental Assessment for the full project was issued. It is difficult to have faith in a drastic, last-minute move made out of desperation, and without a complete and balanced evaluation of better alternatives in the staff report.

Although it may not be the same bridge, the construction of the North and South sections will almost certainly result in pressure on future councils to put a bridge through Jackson Park, its old growth forest, or the Jackson Creek urban wilderness to the west. This is exactly why piecemealing (which the mayor is proposing to do) is not permitted.

It is increasingly unlikely the Parkway will effectively address the transportation issues city staff claim it will. Instead, it will likely create traffic problems. The minimum $143 million cost will clearly exceed its benefits. Council’s vote to remove of the development cap as related to the Parkway (i.e. at Lily Lake) will only add to these problems without committing to immediate and effective solutions.

How will the Parkway sections be any kind of “solution” with added stop lights, road barriers to block turning at Goodfellow, bottlenecks at Jackson Park, and more south end cut-through traffic as a result (yes, the EA study showed this). separate the choice of a new chief from the controversy that has been a large part of the last five years of Rodd’s tenure.

Tensions with city council, and Mayor Daryl Bennett in particular, are well documented: multiple resignations of police board chairs and members, a controversial “severance” award to the chief and deputy chief and legal actions that followed, Bennett’s expulsion from the board and successful campaign to qualify for reinstatement … it has been an exciting time, not always in a good way.

Little of that controversy was Rodd’s fault. In fact, an Ontario Civilian Police Commission appointee sent in to oversee the department concluded none of it was.

Regardless, replacing Rodd from outside the department would continue a healthy, decadeslong pattern of alternating between local experience and fresh vision.

Jack Shrubb was hired from “away” in 1961 and headed the force for 25 years. Next came Kevin McAlpine, a career Peterborough officer. His replacement, Terry McLaren, moved up from deputy chief but had been hired into that role just two years earlier from Niagara Region as part of a succession plan. Rodd followed as an internal hire.

Rodd and his two predecessors served an average of just over 10 years in the top job. That would be an ideal period for a new chief to build on what Rodd achieved while establishing and developing a fresh blueprint for the city’s policing future.

As in 2013, there is no clear consensus on the project from a divided city council; there has been no public or council involvement on what the mayor’s proposal will say, how the proposal will change what was proposed in the EA, how much it will cost, what are the impacts of lifting development caps, or what constructing the north and south sections “immediately” involves. This is the same proposal rejected in the 2003 referendum. At that time, council directed staff to remove the bridge from the Official Plan. But it didn’t happen then, and again may not now.

The content, process, and proposed outcome of the mayor’s proposal are in direct contradiction of the minister’s order and the spirit of the Environmental Assessment Act. The public interest and purpose of the EAA must be upheld. The Minister’s Order should be honoured. The province should say “No” to the mayor’s proposal and we should act immediately with the less expensive, practical alternatives and appoint a collaborative transportation task force. We thank our many supporters and those now writing Wynne and Ballard.

Mark Woolley, Peterborough Greenspace Coalition

OMB rejects Stoney Lake wetlands condos
by JKovach@postmedia.com (October 11, 2017)  www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com

A developer’s plan to build condos along the northwest shore of Stoney Lake, on a piece of wetland-strewn land considered sacred by local First Nations, has been rejected by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

It took about a year for the OMB to make its decision. The 19-day hearing drew a large crowd of concerned citizens daily, when it got underway in September 2016, and was presided over by board member David Lanthier. The 140-page decision states that there wasn’t proof the condo development wouldn’t harm two provincially significant wetlands on the site.The development was proposed for a 675-acre swath of land called the Fraser Estate (after its long-time owner, Gordon Fraser, a Progressive Conservative MP for Peterborough from 1940 until 1953). The land is now owned by a Vancouver-based development company called Burleigh Bay Corp. (BBC).

A map created by the Friends of the Fraser Wetland shows the wetlands area off Stoney Lake north of Burleigh Falls where a 60-unit cottage condominium project has been proposed on the Fraser property. An Ontario Municipal Board hearing on an appeal of the project began Tuesday.

BBC developer Ron Dick proposed a condominium complex with 58 building lots plus a network of roads, private driveways and private septic systems. The plan also included a clubhouse, tennis courts, swimming pool, parking lot, beach and 72-slip marina.

But the decision states there’s a multitude of animal, amphibious, bird and plant species on the site, and that some are species at risk (the Blanding’s turtle and the muskellunge, for example). The development would clear away habitat for many of these species, the decision states, and yet the developer had “guesstimated” wildlife movements on the site.

The board was also unconvinced there would be enough water to adequately service the development, and there was also “unresolved” debate as to whether the site is sacred to First Nations.The decision states there aren’t any alterations the developer could make to the plans that would make things better – the presence of this large development couldn’t help but disturb the two provincially significant wetlands and the species that live there.

“Although it may be possible for a substantially altered development to occur within the entirety of the lands, the development does not represent good planning and development,” states the decision.”Accordingly, the board is unable to approve the applications to support Burleigh Bay Corp.’s proposed development.”

Nobody from Burleigh Bay Corp. could be reached for comment Tuesday. Jonathan Wigler, the Toronto lawyer representing the developer, couldn’t be reached for comment either. Opposing parties in the OMB hearing were Curve Lake First Nation, North Kawartha Township (which had turned down a rezoning) and the Friends of the Fraser Wetlands Inc. (a citizens’ group).

In a release, the opponents to the developer’s plans reacted to the news. “We’re elated,” stated Heather Brooks-Hill, a third-generation Stoney Lake resident and director of Friends of Fraser Wetlands. “This gives the Kawarthas a breathtaking opportunity to preserve an extraordinary natural setting that can’t be replaced,” she stated.Chief Phyllis Williams of Curve Lake First Nation was also pleased.

“Our elders asked us to save this wilderness and all the species in it, to respect the ancestors and the land they frequented years ago,” she stated in the same release.The decision states that two witnesses provided evidence on water and hydrology – Chris Rancourt for the developer, and Ken Howard for Friends of the Fraser Wetland.The board found that Rancourt gave “underwhelming testimony”, at one point saying he expects they would be “in pretty good shape” when asked whether he thought there would be an adequate supply of well water for the development.

The decision states that this testimony doesn’t come close to the kind of evidence needed to meet the requirements set out in either the Provincial Policy Statement or Peterborough County’s Official Plan.Meanwhile Howard raised grave concerns about not only the adequacy of a water supply but also about the potential pollution of the aquifer from the development.

He testified that the developer was relying on water studies that were “poor, superficial and lacking in basic hydrological information.”David Donnelly, the lawyer for both the Friends of the Fraser Wetlands and Curve Lake First Nation, called it a landmark decision on par with victories such as the one that protected the Oak Ridges Moraine.”The decision is a new road map for land-use protection for provincially-significant wetlands and Blanding’s turtle habitat,” he stated in a release.”Given that the township produced no environmental evidence and there is no conservation authority in the area, the decision vividly underscores the necessity and value of citizen group participation in protecting the planet.”

 

WHAT IS HAPPENING AT CITY HALL?  DETAILS YOU NEED TO KNOW…. (posted September 26, 2017)

September 21: First public access to the equivalent of a giant “Omnibus Bill – (OB)” with 22 Reports to be presented to the Committee of the Whole
September 25: Committee of the Whole receives the reports in the OB and makes recommendations to Council
September 28: Opposition to the OB must be submitted (reports/speakers) to the Clerk’s Office
October 2: Public can comment on the bill to Council, if they registered to speak; Council votes on the “Omnibus Bill”.

ISSUES critical to the sustainable future of Peterborough City:

1. The Parkway: The city is proposing to award carte blanche to the Mayor to immediately develop the parkway corridor without any transparency or accountability by:

completing the southern and norther portions of the parkway
using a piecemeal approach to ensure the City’s plan to complete the parkway in spite of the wider environmental assessment (EA) and public consultation ordered by the Provincial government
letting the Mayor (without Council or Public input) approach the province to change the requirements of the EA.  This was denied by the province already so this OB is another ploy.

2. Harper Park:  On May 29, 2017, the Council of the City of Peterborough passed a motion made by Councillor Gary Baldwin to:
“(1) direct staff to bring forward a report outlining the scope & 2018 budget implications of a Harper Park Watershed Management Plan that would include a Harper Park Wetland Complex and, (2) that in conjunction with the study, staff also consider the potential uses of the employment lands in the vicinity of Harper Park.

Result: The City of Peterborough’s Planning department has produced an OB that calls for the creation of management plans and an Official Plan policy update for all of the natural heritage lands in the city, including Harper Park.

Problems resulting from this include:an inadequate report, given the scope of what was requested
an elusive budget scope but nearly $250,000 named just to get started
confusing terminology (scale of lands studied flips from parklands to wetlands; secondary planning area to watershed management plan to city-wide planning corridor
not a single map is included to help council (& the public) locate or understand the extent of lands to be studied.
the Harper Park Management Plan ‘will be instrumental in determining additional developable lands for employment uses’.  Despite all previous reports encouraging the city to acquire lands adjacent to the park for protection as a buffer against other incompatible development, this initiative appears to seek ways to cleave off parts of the park, likely with the intent of zoning for additional incompatible development such as entertainment or restaurant venues to support the Casino.
The report recommends hiring, without public tender or terms of reference, the City’s consultant on the Casino site plan project (Beacon Environmental Group) which submitted the Casino plan with a number of negative impacts unaddressed.  The fact that Mayor Daryl Bennett co-owns employment lands directly across from the Harper Park, on the east side of Harper Road, may add to the list of biases against preserving the ecological integrity of the park.
This bill may make the future of Harper Park more uncertain because the redesignation of the Harper Creek Wetland as Provincially Significant may be challenged, and the focus will be on finding ways to develop this sensitive gateway area park, rather than, as Councillor Baldwin intended, protection for Peterborough’s only natural park and possibly our last relatively undisturbed headwater to the Otonabee River.
3. Compost:  The City requested that compost be re-located to the current landfill on Bensfort Road.  This request was refused because of the need for an environmental assessment before action.  However, the current OB recommends that the current site be continued but:There is no EA of the current site in spite of the fact that it is adjacent to Harper Park, a “Provincially Significant wetland”.

TIME FOR ACTION for a SUSTAINABLE PETERBOROUGH!

PROTEST: Everyone call and email your councillors, MPP Jeff Leal, and raise with friends and neighbours
NETWORK: Distribute this and call on all of your contacts, networks, organizations
SHOW UP: Bring everyone you know to show up and speak up at City Hall Monday Oct. 2 at 6 pm
Sponsored by: Friends of Jackson Park, Friends of Harper Park, The LEAP Peterborough

 

 

 

IMPORTANT MEETING ON FUTURE OF HARPER PARK – September 25, 2017 – City Hall

Peterborough’s richest and most pristine natural areas – Harper Park – is once again under siege. Kim Zippel, who heads up the efforts to protect both the park itself and Harper Creek,  is urging people to come to City Hall this evening at 6pm and pack the Council chambers and overflow room. We need as many bodies as possible for the MEDIA COUNT.  Although it is a Committee of the Whole meeting and the public can’t speak, there will be speakers at Council meeting next week.

The equivalent of a giant “Omnibus Bill” is being presented to Committee of the Whole, with an astounding 22 Reports to which Council will give its first OK or Nay. In addition to addressing next steps on the Parkway and ward boundaries for the next Municipal Election, they will be discussing the ‘Precommit of 2018 Capital Budget: Natural Heritage Policy Update and Harper Park Plan’ (item #12), which includes hiring Beacon Environmental – at a cost of $226,000 – as the environmental consultants for Harper Park. This is the same firm the City hired during the Casino debates. According to its own report the City intends to rehire this firm without going to tender. A large portion of Harper Park could end up being used for development purposes related to the casino.
Recommendations to be presented
That Council approve the recommendations outlined in Report PLPD17-043 dated September 25, 2017 of the Director, Planning and Development Services, as follows:

  • That $225,000 be pre-committed in the 2018 Capital Budget to retain an environmental consultant to carry out an update to the City Natural Heritage Official Plan policies as part of the Official Plan update, which will include the completion of a Harper Park Management Plan; and
  • That Beacon Environmental be retained to complete the Natural Heritage Policy update and Harper Park Management Plan at a cost of $200,000, plus HST of $26,000.
Kim Zippel, on behalf of supporters and friends of Harper Park, has asked council to amend this report – PLPD17-043 – as follows:
 
That an amended motion be brought forward to: separate Harper Park and Official Plan Natural Heritage System projects and funding; go to an external contract with clear terms of reference to cover the park management plan; a clear Council direction for public engagement, including the Harper Park Stewardship Committee, recognizing their leading expertise in this area; deal with employment lands separately as part of a secondary plan update after the Official Plan review is completed, which will set the direction for the city. 
 
The report in question was made available on the City of Peterborough website on Friday.  She encourages you to access the report (Committee of the Whole Agenda Item #12. See below for link)  and draw your own conclusions, and then share any suggestions, or concerns with your Councillors. If you cannot be present in council chambers this evening (meeting starts at 6 pm, but come earlier for seating), please consider lending your voice to the following plea for a democratic process for Harper Park and our Natural Heritage Lands. Click here.

While citizens cannot speak at Committee of the Whole meetings, we have a right to be present and bear witness to the discussion and voting on this report. There will also be reports presented on beginning work on the Parkway, use of Jackson Park and new Early Years Centres – among others.
Please come if you are able. As Kim says, the Transit issue of a couple years ago was reversed because enough people packed the Chambers to protest a scheme that would have badly hurt low-income riders.

You can find the agenda of tonight’s meeting HERE.

Drew Monkman

A female Brook Trout on her redd in Harper Creek – Don McLeod

 

 

 

 

Peterborough Examiner

Peterborough Field Naturalists

Loggerhead Marsh

Harper Park

Don McLeod’s Nature Blog

Cavan Reflections

For Our Grandchildren (Climate Change)

Environment Canada Weather Office Daily Data Report