Photo by Betty Campbell
|The Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club
by David Hobden
The committee is continuing to monitor several issues.
We are represented at meetings of the Greenbelt Coalition where working groups are preparing position papers on Natural Environment, Agriculture and Built Environment (places produced by humans). The draft position papers were discussed in March.
Kawartha Lakes Signature Site Park
We sent our letter of objection to extending the current bear hunting season in the park and to creating new hunting opportunities for small mammals and snapping turtles. We were particularly concerned for the snapping turtles because their populations have a very low natural mortality rate. Hunting would increase the mortality rate and cause a population decline. The Park already has a management plan in place so there was no opportunity to discuss hunting in general.
OFNC also supported a submission by Ontario Nature (ON) on the same subject. ON had sought support from affiliated naturalists' groups all across the province and received a good response. We feel that the impact of this group's response will be much greater than a submission from a single organization. In the past we have tried to get ON to do something similar when we saw problems with provincial legislation, but were not successful. Perhaps we should try again now.
City of Ottawa Official Plan (OP) Review and Findlay Creek Development
This process is continuing and the main opportunities for public input ended in March. We have some concerns over the treatment of wetlands, but little else at the moment. The Greenspace Master Plan is not included in the review since it was produced two years after the main plan.
The OP Review will involve hours of volunteer effort.
The city officially seeks public participation in major decisions, yet recent actions of some city staff would seem to suggest not all public input is appreciated. In a court case involving the Findlay Creek development, part of which is being built in a wetland, costs were awarded to the city against Greenspace Alliance. What a great way to discourage public participation. Fortunately, Ottawa City Council passed a motion, which noted the value of public participation and sets apolicy that costs will not be sought against community groups who take legal action against the City, unless the presiding judge rules that the action was frivolous or vexatious.
The Findlay Creek development has a long history of public objections because it includes part of the Leitrim Wetland. The developer gave a large section of the original property to the South Nation Conservation Authority after it was identified as a Provincially Significant Wetland, but then went ahead with development that some thought would damage or even destroy the wetland. Recent observations seem to show they were right. The wetland is being damaged.
Individuals concerned about the Leitrim wetland repeatedly notified the Ministry that water taking at this development might not be in accordance with regulations. Some of the companies involved in the development of Findlay Creek were recently charged under the Ontario Water Resources Act with several offenses including illegally taking water. The maximum penalties for conviction on these offenses range up to six million dollars. That the Ministry decided to lay charges suggests that individual volunteers can make a difference.
I must conclude with a word of heartfelt thanks to Frank Pope from the Conservation Committee for his many contributions over the years. He has recently taken on the duties of Business Manager for the CFN and finds he does not have the time to devote to the Conservation Committee. You can get some understanding of the magnitude of his contributions in just one area, if you look up "Alfred Bog" in any index of T&L published in the past 20 years.