KNL and the South March Highlands: There are Species at Risk!
Kanata North Lakes Developments Inc. (KNL) has submitted a proposal to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to seek approval for a residential subdivision development in Kanata; west of Ottawa. The proposal for a development permit under clause 17(2)(c) of the Endangered Species Act to remove up to 120 Butternut trees and destroy the habitat of trees for the purpose of developing the residential subdivision.
The proposal outlines the potential risk to the endangered Butternut trees and the threatened Blanding’s Turtles and Least Bitterns (Heron). Under the Endangered Species Act, clause 17(2)(c) KNL can apply for a permit to develop in the area given that they provide an overall benefit for the species at risk. An overall benefit is an activity that would improve the circumstances of the species and exceed the adverse effects of the development on the species at risk. The Minister of Natural Resources is seeking comments on the issue up until February 17th!
KNL Developments Inc. is seeking to:
- Remove up to 120 Butternut trees occurring on the 140 hectare (ha) site as well as damage and destroy the habitat of these trees
- Kill, harm and harass Blanding’s Turtle as well as destroy up to 124 hectares of Blanding’s Turtle habitat
- Kill, harm and harass Least Bittern as well as damage up to 10.9 hectares of Least Bittern habitat in order to construct a residential development in the City of Ottawa.
Studies have shown that the KNL development will be “very challenging”, however KNL continues to proceed. Two issues with the development are drainage and the species at risk including: the Butternut Tree, the Blanding’s Turtle, and the Least Bittern (Heron).
A stormwater management study identified issues with the 25 year old development plan to divert stormwater including: erosion, flooding and fisheries. The study concluded that this diversion of water could affect surrounding infrastructure, floodlines and organisms that depend on the aquatic environment.
KNL is proposing to create nesting and overwintering habitat near or adjacent to suitable wetland habitat, however experience has demonstrated that wild species seldom follow populate in these human made areas. The 2012 study Structural and Functional Loss in Restored Wetland Ecosystems found that “biological structure in restored or created wetlands recovered to only 77% (on average) of reference values, even 100 y after restoration”, warning against this practice as a way to justify further degradation. Studies have already came out that the Blandling Turtle population will not survive the KNL development process. Extensive habitat loss and a significant increase in traffic generated by the proposed development will lead to an increase in turtle mortality.
Tell the Ministry of Natural Resources to reject this proposal. There is too much at risk! The Ministry of Natural Resources needs to do an environmental impact assessment before making a decision. Don’t allow hasty development to trump the protection of our species at risk!
Click below to visit the Ontario Environmental Registry website before February 17th and support the Blanding turtles, Butternut trees and the Least Bitterns:
Here is a sample letter you can write:
The approval request submitted by KNL presumes that it is possible to mitigate the impact or, achieve a net benefit, of its proposed development on the species-at-risk in this area. In fact, it is not possible to do so for the following reasons:
- The proposal does not address all the species at risk that have been documented in this area via various environmental studies over the past 15 years, including the more recent study done for the CEAA approval of Terry Fox Drive Extension. Over 20 species at risk have been identified in various City, developer, and federal environmental studies. These include Monarch Butterfly, American Ginseng, Western Chorus Frog, Jefferson Blue Salamander, and other SAR observed within the proposed development area within the past 5 years.
- The population of Butternut trees has already been weakened and diminished by the prior approval of mitigation for the Terry Fox Road extension. The CEAA Part A approvals resulted in the removal of 177 trees and several hundred more were removed after the Part B approvals. The applicant has provided no scientific basis to establish that a cumulative reduction of another 120 trees is sustainable.
- The approval request by KNL, according to the City of Ottawa’s Blanding’s Studies, would destroy significant critical habitat, including nesting sites, of the largest known population of Blanding’s Turtle in Eastern Ontario. These studies clearly demonstrate that the Blanding’s are dependent on nesting and eco-corridor passages that run throughout the proposed area of development. This critical habitat is to be fully protected under the provisions of the ESA and the application for an exemption should be rejected on that basis alone.
- Even assuming that the critical habitat protection requirement of the ESA might be ignored, The City’s risk assessment of this Blanding’s Turtle population clearly demonstrates that an unacceptable level of risk to the survival of this population exists if development is to proceed pursuant to an approval by the MNR.
- The applicant has also apparently failed to fully disclose or study the environmental impact of massive blasting needed to pulverize the Canadian Shield rock into a water permeable surface that is sufficient to absorb 74,000 cubic meters of storm water runoff for which KNL’s Master Servicing Plan does not provide sufficient capacity for. The City of Ottawa conducted a study that proved that this massive shortfall in capacity existed in KNL’s plan, and according to the City of Ottawa study of storm water alternatives completed in 2013, it appears that the proponent is attempting to compensate for this shortfall via a massive blasting of the ground surface within the proposed development area. Such a massive and extensive amount of blasting is clearly inconsistent with minimizing impact on the critical habitat of the Blanding’s turtle as well as the critical habitat of other SAR within the development area. Not only will there be massive ground disturbance, there is a significant risk of chemical poisoning due to the widespread distribution of explosives planned.
KNL’s development plan is not sustainable. It’s environmental impact is significant and cannot be mitigated.