Saturday, December 4, 2021

Environmental Concerns and Managing Development

Dear Editor:

On November 18, 2019, the Municipality of Meaford joined more than 800 Canadian communities in declaring a global climate crisis. A motion by Councillor Steve Bartley asked staff to bring back a report outlining ways and measures that can be taken within municipal operations to combat the climate emergency. The motion was carried 4 to 1, moving us closer to the goal of combating global warming right here at home.

The development boom that is occuring in urban Meaford, with hundreds more residential and hotel units on the books, raises concerns whether or not the spirit of that commendable motion is being honoured.

In particular, the proposed SkyDev development is concerning. While the revised proposal reduces the number of units originally envisioned, it still includes a site-wide total of 247 residential and hotel units. With only two residential streets for vehicles to enter and exit the proposed development, there is the clear danger that this would create traffic bottlenecks, with resulting increased emissions. This isn’t our only concern.

A small deciduous forest on the site and surrounding areas could be destroyed to make room for the development. This would also be counter to the essence of the motion. As most of us are aware, trees help fight the climate crisis by absorbing greenhouse gases, as well as providing a host of other essential benefits.

These benefits were acknowledged in the Environmental Impact Study commissioned by SkyDev. While the study stated the forest does not meet the local, regional, and provincial criteria as a ‘significant’ woodlands, it did recommend that “the forest be retained to the extent possible…..”

A group of residents from the neighbourhood and the broader community have asked Meaford’s Planning Department for clarification about the status of the forest. Specifically:

What is the plan for the forest that is presently on the property?

SkyDev’s site diagram shows trees around the hotel. Are these new trees that are to be planted?

The department responded that they don’t have answers yet and that our questions will (be) added to the file to be addressed by staff and forwarded to SkyDev, “who likely would be better able to answer.”

We need answers, soon.

We want this forest to be protected from being removed because of its intrinsic environmental benefits.

We would also like to know what the future holds for the forest and all the property by the shoreline.

And, we need responsible development that is aligned with the spirit of Meaford’s Climate Crisis Declaration.

Respectfully,

Anne Boody Horwood, Susan Johnston, Meaford

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