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Posts Tagged ‘Hanlon Creek Business Park’

The following letter, published in the Guelph Mercury on June 19, contains sentiments that are definitely worth repeating. The author is one ‘David Graham’, though apparently not our good friend, fellow blogger and certified train nut David Graham.

Despite all the spin on the City of Guelph website, the business park we are going to get is clearly far less than what was originally envisaged.

If you don’t believe us, take a look at the 1996 South Guelph Secondary Plan.

Although the document contains a lot of interesting information, pay particular attention to 4.19.2.6 (scanned pages 16 and 17) where they discuss plans for the Corporate Business Parks on either side of the Hanlon Expressway.

Land West (and East) of the Hanlon Expressway which is designated “Corporate Business Park” has a high level of visibility from the Hanlon Expressway and close to the 401.

By virtue of its visual prominence, excellent access, proximity to Highway 401, and distinct natural setting, development of this area should occur in manner which establishes a park or campus like setting with extensive landscaping and a high standard of urban design.

Architectural detail, building massing, landscaping, and site design shall collectively result in establishing an attractive entrance or gateway feature for the City of Guelph in this location. Design and building control shall also be used to maintain senstitivity to nearby residential or natural areas. In this regard the City will prepare specific urban design guidelines to provide direction with respect to deisgn principles.

Land designated as “Corporate Business Park” shall be generally characterized by office and administrative facilities type development displaying appropriate design standards and sensitivity to natural settings and adjacent uses. The visual attractiveness and consistent gateway image is of prime importance. Pure manufacturing and retail uses shall not be permitted.

The bottom line is that plans can change a lot over the years especially in situations where economic and financial concerns are allowed to take precedence over protecting the environment and, also, in this case Guelph’s groundwater recharge area in the Hanlon Creek Watershed.

Take a look at the business park on the east side of the Hanlon Expressway next time you head down that way. Can you say “Warehousing”? Expect the Hanlon Creek Business Park to look very similar.

So much for the Gateway to Guelph!

View the South Guelph Secondary Plan

Business Park Violates Rules Of Good Planning
David Graham
Guelph Mercury June 19 2010

Sadly, the City of Guelph continues with its development of the Hanlon Creek Business Park, the result of an unjust political process, allowing for the destruction of vital lands.

The whole spectacle is of little surprise though, as the city has been engaged in a morally declining path for many years. Long ago the city exceeded the boundaries of what can be considered sustainable. Every year the loss of land to the ever-expanding frontier further results in a loss to the ecological integrity of our region. The development of the business park is the final straw in these destructive policies. How can we stand to see this site paved over? These lands provide habitat for a plethora of species and are the site of provincially significant wetlands. This illustrates what wanton degradation of our landscape the city’s development plans support.

The loss of this land also represents a loss to the social fabric of our region. The local landscape, including rivers, soils, water, plants, and animals, contributes much to our sense of place. If there no longer exists significant geographic features beyond the infrastructure of the downtown core (which represents a fraction of the greater sprawling city), Guelph will further become indistinguishable from any other suburban city North America-wide. How can we cultivate a commitment in our children to our environment if we’ve left nothing of it?

The development of the park can be seen all the more as a travesty when considering how much underutilized land there exists for development within the current city limits. Higher density development, infill development, and the adaptive re-use of existing buildings would result in a more efficient utilization of our land resources. This is achievable if the city of Guelph would only impart a little creativity into their policy making.

The basic principles of smart growth, which include a commitment to biodiversity and green infrastructure, shall not be met under the current park development plans. While the official plan makes allowances for protected areas on the proposed site, ecological systems don’t acknowledge arbitrary boundaries and the inevitable fragmentation will render these sensitive lands void of any benefits.

The park plan is not the result of a democratic process, managed as an open and inclusive exercise of democratic governance. We must break from the established public paradigm and consult people from disparate backgrounds and positions, not just elected officials and city-hired professionals. Citizens deserved greater say.

David Graham, Guelph

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Hanlon Creek Site Entrance (Photo: Bob Grodon)

Following up on Friday’s press conference decrying the $5 million SLAPP suit initiated by the  City of Guelph and Belmont Equity against five individuals who occupied the Hanlon Creek lands last summer, the self-styled Defenders of the Hanlon Creek Watershed are hosting a free public meeting on April 29 at Ed. Video, 40 Baker St.

Participants in last summer’s action, including some of the defendents in the SLAPP suit, will be discussing what happened, why it was significant and most importantly what to do next.

According to a press release sent out by The Defenders of Hanl0n Creek Watershed:

Recent news coverage has shown that once again that the City of Guelph is trying to evade responsibility for protecting an environmentally sensitive area by applying to the Ministry of Natural Resources for an exemption “to harm Jefferson Salamanders and to damage potential their habitat.

This follows what happened last summer, when the Superior Court awarded the land occupiers an injunction for defending the public interest, and forced the City to hold off on development of the Hanlon Creek Business Park.

Since then the City and Belmont Equity have pursued a SLAPP suit against five individuals for up to $5 million.  This is an unrealistic and absurd amount of money, the real intent being to intimidate people into silence and inaction.

The Defenders of the Hanlon Creek are hoping people will come out to share ideas and develop an action plan to continue the fight against the development of the envioronmentally sensitive area.

For more information, visit www.hcbpoccupation.wordpress.com and www.hanloncreek5.woprdpress.com.

Thursday April 29, 7  p.m.

Ed Video, 40 Baker St., downtown Guelph

Wheelchair Accessible

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Salamandergate – Jim Bogart, Hanlon Creek And City Hall Spin
Jan Andrea Hall, Royal City Rag

Jan Andrea Hall

It turns out that Dr. Jim Bogart, Emeritus Professor at the University of Guelph may not be quite the Salamander expert we were led to believe.

Check out this affidavit from biologist Dean Fitzgerald used during the Ontario Municipal Board process for case PL071044, in particular #25.

View the affidavit (2.88 mb)

It seems that Dr. Bogart is an expert in identifying salamanders in the laboratory from genetic material NOT in terms of habitat used by salamanders during breeding migration.

Which raises the issue of whether he really should be commenting in the Guelph Mercury on the likelihood of finding a Jefferson Salamander at Hanlon Creek.

The rest of the affidavit document is worth reading because it reminds us that confirming the presence of the salamander may only be as good as the techniques used to find them. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It all depends how you look, how hard you look and who is doing the looking.

Jefferson salamander (photo: John White)

As to whether the City of Guelph is really worried about finding a Jefferson Salamander, or whether they have already found one, is not clear.

More likely they are just trying to surreptitiously protect themselves in case they do find one.

It is interesting that Jim Bogart should be commenting in the Guelph Mercury on the likelihood of finding a Jefferson Salamander on the same day that the city’s application for permission to harm Jefferson Salamanders and damage their habitat was uncovered by activists.

It also seems that the Guelph Mercury got it wrong in their April 22 editorial on the subject, Species Decision Backed By Law.

Turns out that the city have changed their position with respect to the salamander.

When they first found a Jefferson Salamander at Hanlon Creek in May 2009, the City of Guelph released this press release.

“This discovery is the result of our rigorous, ongoing monitoring program in this area. The City remains committed to protecting the habitat of endangered species, and we will work closely with the Ministry of Natural Resources,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge.

Ouch!

Which brings me to the April 23 column from Scott Tracey in the Mercury, City Looking The Other Way When Rules Get In The Way.

Glad to see that someone is still earning their crust the right way at the Merc!

Jan Andrea Hall
janhall@royalcityrag.ca

For more on this and other community issues, tune into Royal City Rag, Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm. Speaking Truth To Power.

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Weird Numbers Part 3: Minimizing Environmental Impact or Buffers, Who Needs Them?
Bob Gordon, Freelance Journalist/Royal City Rag Contributor

Bob Gordon

In the summer of 2005 the Grand River Conservation Area (GRCA) issued a document entitled, “Environmental Impact Study Guidelines and Submission Standards for Wetlands”

Not surprisingly the document contained an Appendix detailing “Buffer and Setback Guidelines”.

It defined buffers in this way: “ Buffers are planned and managed strips of naturally vegetated land located between wetlands and development sites, which are intended to protect the wetland and sustain its identified ecological functions.”

It defines setbacks as follows:

“Setback refers to the physical separation (measured in metres) between the wetland and the proposed development site or structure. Impacts generally expected of development can often be avoided or mitigated if a very broad area of land is maintained in a naturally vegetated state or as green space.”

The document further states that, “The scientific literature (Woodward and Rock 1995, Castelle et al. 1994) dealing with buffer functions consistently recommends a minimum buffer width of 15-30 metres on slopes less than 12 percent with good ground cover to protect wetlands under most circumstances.”

However, in a qualifying paragraph that merits quotation in full the document notes that minimum buffers may be suitable for protection of water quality but are rarely adequate for the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat:

“Buffers in excess of 30 metres may be warranted to protect environmentally sensitive bogs and fens or wetlands harbouring locally, regionally, or provincially significant species. Based on current knowledge, the literature increasingly indicates that larger buffer requirements tend to be associated with the habitat requirements of wildlife, especially those species inhabiting marshes (Environment Canada 2004). Therefore, minimum buffer widths based on water quality parametres alone are unlikely to be sufficient for wildlife protection.”

The bottom line is that a minimum buffer of 30 metres of naturally vegetated land is essential.

Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

The naturally vegetated land buffer surrounding the Provincially Significant Wetland Known as the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex in the parlance of the Ministry of Natural Resources is a mere 5 metres.

The municipal administration justifies this less than minimal buffer by arguing that it is only storm water management facilities and service roads that are located within 30 metres of the Provincially Significant Wetland Known as the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex.

Surprise, surprise but the GRCA’s “Environmental Impact Study Guidelines and Submission Standards for Wetlands” document specifically warns against locating stormwater management facilities within buffers for four very significant reasons:

  1. The location of such facilities entirely within the buffer zone should be discouraged because discharge from these facilities is often directed toward wetlands and associated watercourses.
  2. The need for outlet structures, cooling trenches, and spreader berms also requires grading, an activity that should not take place within a natural buffer zone.
  3. Stormwater management facilities may also accumulate toxins that are harmful to wetland dependent wildlife.
  4. Though sometimes designed to function like a wetland, these facilities do not provide suitable habitat for wildlife, and as such should remain physically separated as much as possible from natural wetlands.

The conclusion is simple, no matter what the city and its hired guns (consultants) tell us there are four good reasons that five is not better than thirty and that even thirty is frequently inadequate.

It is painful and disturbing to consider the inevitable chain of events.

So what happens if the city constructs the Hanlon Creek Business Park with inadequate buffers?

  1. The Provincially Significant Wetland Known as the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex deteriorates in quality over the next decades.
  2. In 20 years when the next civic administration requires more industrial land they expand into and over the wetlands that have lost their significance and value because the plans made today destroyed them.
  3. They ask us to thank them because they are not sprawling into the surrounding country side just making use of some toxic cess pools that have no environmental value anyway.

So much for the City of Guelph’s insistence that they have carefully considered the environmental  impact of the development, and planned accordingly.

Bob Gordon
bob34g@gmail.com

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City of Guelph Asks For Permission To Actively Harm The Jefferson Salamander. Whatever Next?
Jan Andrea Hall, Royal City Rag

Jan Andrea Hall

Its interesting to note that on the same day that the The City of Guelph consultant, and noted expert on the Jefferson Salamander, Dr. Jim Bogart, Emeritus Professor at the University of Guelph is quoted in the Guelph Mercury suggesting that he doesn’t expect to find the Jefferson Salamander in the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex this Spring, activists should uncover information that the city and their development partner Belmont Equity Partners, have applied to the Ministry of Natural Resources for permission to harm Jefferson Salamanders and damage their habitat… even if they confirm that the endangered species is present at the environmentally sensitve site.

The following is taken from the Environmental Bill of Rights website:

“The City of Guelph, Belmont Equity (HCBP) Holdings Ltd. and Guelph Land Holdings (the applicants) are applying for an agreement to mitigate impacts Jefferson Salamanders and their habitat for the purpose of developing the Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP), a new subdivision in the City of Guelph.

Jefferson salamander (photo: John White)

The Jefferson Salamander is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List, in Ontario Regulation 230/08 under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA), as a threatened species. Clause 9(1)(a) of the ESA provides that no person shall kill, harm, harass, capture or take a living member of a species that is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as an extirpated, endangered or threatened species. Clause 10(1)(a) of the ESA provides that no person shall damage or destroy the habitat of a species that is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as an endangered or threatened species. Protection for Jefferson Salamander habitat came into force in February 2010.

The subject lands are currently being surveyed for the presence of Jefferson Salamander. The survey began in March and will continue until the end of April. If Jefferson Salamanders are found, the City of Guelph, Belmont Equity (HCBP) Holdings Ltd. and Guelph Land Holdings are requesting an authorization through an agreement to harm Jefferson Salamanders and to damage potential habitat.”

The full details on the application can be found here.

Public comments on this application can be made now by sending an e-mail to esa.permits.agreements@ontario.ca.

The deadline for comments is May 10 2010.

It is important to include the EBR Registry Number 010-9560.

Those more comfortable using mail or telephone can use the following:

James Fitzpatrick
Species at Risk Team Advisor
Ministry of Natural Resources
Policy Division Species at Risk Branch
300 Water Street
Floor 4 Robinson Place South Tower
Peterborough Ontario
K9J 8M5
705-755-5409
705-755-1788

As much as I respect the credentials of Dr. Bogart, his role is limited to examining salamanders sent in by consulting firms scouring the site for evidence of the illusive amphibian.

As its not unusual for consultants to come up with findings desirable to whoever commissioned the work I’m not holding my breath on Dr. Bogart’s current opinion being contradicted.

View the proposed Hanlon Creek Salamander Monitoring Program for 2010

The City of Guelph asking for permission to actively harm a creature’s habitat. Whatever next?

Please remember that this is “the greenest Mayor and Council” we’ve ever had.

One wonders what they’d be doing if they weren’t green?

Jan Andrea Hall
janhall@royalcityrag.ca

For more on this and other community issues, tune into Royal City Rag, Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU 93.3fm. Speaking Truth To Power.

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We started off Royal City Rag on April 10 with a strong first set and a ‘river’ theme featuring music by former Beach Boy, the sadly departed Dennis Wilson from the exquisite 1977 album, Pacific Ocean Blue, James Gordon from his album of river songs commissioned by the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, The Song The River Sings, Brian Eno’s “By The River” and the gorgeous guitar instrumental masterpiece “Eramosa”, by Guelph’s Mike Mucci  from the Under The Tulip Tree album. 

Later in the first hour we featured Gillian Welch’s partner, Dave Rawlings’ outstanding new album “A Friend Is A Friend” as well as Old Man Luedecke who will be bringing his banjo back to Guelph on April 15 for a show at The E-Bar with Jessy Bell Smith and Pat LePoidevin.

We also played an excerpt from “Earth Hour”, a hypnotic ambient composition from composer Frank Horvat‘s new album A Little Dark Music.  The album features four different pieces that take their inspiration from real world themes such as sustainability, poverty and 9/11.

Frank will be in Guelph on Saturday April 17 , as part of his Green Keys tour,  for a performance at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre at 8 p.m.

In honour of Earth Hour, the recital will take place in a completely dark performance space. Admission is free.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Frank’s new CD will go to the World Wildlife Fund. The performance is being sponsored by Bullfrog Power, Braden Homes, and the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre.

Listen to Hour 1:

In the second hour, we welcomed into the studio Matts Soltys and Matt Lowell-Pelletier, two of the defendants in the $5 million lawsuit being brought by The City of Guelph and their development partner, Belmont Equity Partners, in relation to the peaceful occupation of the environmentally sensitive Hanlon Creek for 17 days last summer.

The City of Guelph and Belmont Equity Partners statement of claim for damages, initially filed for $5 million, was reduced to $150,000 then increased to $5 million on February 24 2010. At that time they also removed two of the named individuals in the lawsuit. 

Cartoon by Khalil Bendib

According to a city press release released at the time, the lawsuit was intended to ‘recover the actual cost of damages, including damages to the site, resulting from protestor activities, and costs relating to the loss of monitoring equipment’.

Although the plaintiffs would likely claim otherwise, this is really a good old SLAPP suit, a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) that according to Wikipedia, is “intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.”

View a copy of the amended lawsuit from February 24 2010

View the statement of defence from March 24 2010

According to Environmental Defence, SLAPPs are a growing threat to meaningful participation in issues of public interest in Ontario and significantly affect the ability of communities to protest development in environmentally sensitive areas.

Although SLAPP suits are not uncommon in Ontario, 50 per cent of American states, and most recently Quebec have passed anti-SLAPP legislation.

Environmental Defence is working with partners Ecojustice and Canadian Environmental Law Association to finally put a stop to SLAPPs in Ontario.

As well as pushing for new legislation, their campaign has encouraged more than 70 community groups to write to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty requesting an end to SLAPP suits.

They have also produced a petition to stop SLAPPs that you can sign HERE.

Interestingly, Environmental Defence have managed to get approximately 70 municipalities to pass a resolution asking the Province to pass anti-SLAPP legislation. Unfortunately green Guelph has not yet joined that group!

Please note: The panel discussion regarding SLAPP suits featuring Rebecca McNeil from Environmental defence discussed during the show, and scheduled for April 12, has been postponed to a later date.

Listen to Hour 2:

Music:
Dennis Wilson, River Song from Pacific Ocean Blue
James Gordon, The Song The River Sings from The Song The River Sings
Brian Eno, By The River from Before And After Science
Mike Mucci, Eramosa from Under The Tulip Tree
Gillian Welch, Winter’s Come And Gone from Hell Among The Yearlings
Dave Rawlings Machine, I Hear Them All from A Friend Of A Friend
Old Man Luedecke, The Rear Guard from My Hands Are On Fire And Other Love Songs
Colin Linden, In The Deep Field from Six Strings North Of The Border
Eliza Gilkyson, Unsustainable from Beautiful World
Mo Kauffey, Know You Rider from Dig It
Frank Horvat, Earth Hour from A Little Dark Music
Neil Young, Mother Earth from Farm Aid 2008
Neil Young, Natural Beauty from Harvest Moon

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Hanlon Creek Site Entrance (Photo: Bob Grodon)

We’ll be focusing on SLAPP suits on CFRU 93.3fm’s Royal City Rag on April 10

In the second hour, we’ll be welcoming into the studio some of the defendants in the $5 million lawsuit being brought by The City of Guelph and their development partner, Belmont Equity Partners, in relation to the peaceful occupation of the environmentally sensitive Hanlon Creek for 17 days last summer.

A mutual injunction hearing took place in front of Judge Gray on August 10 2009 between the Corporation of the City of Guelph and Belmont Equity (HCBP) Holdings Ltd., and (at that time) seven named individuals, members of Land is More Important than Sprawl (LIMITS), and John Doe, Jane Doe and other persons unknown.

According to Royal City Rag Correspondent Bob Gordon who attended the injunction hearing:

Judge Gray’s decision resulted in both injunctions being granted: The occupants were ordered to leave the site by noon, Friday, August 14, 2009 while the city was enjoined to cease all work on Culvert A on Tributary A of the Hanlon Creek until the Minister of Natural Resources had considered the matter.

The judgement granted the occupants standing as “public interest litigants” and recognized the primacy of the ‘precautionary principle’, “which, simply put, contemplates that where there is a threat of a significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such a threat.” At the same time it recognized that this decision rests with the Minister of Natural Resources not the courts.

View Judge Gray’s injunction judgement from August 13 2009

The Minister of Natural Resources duly approved the city to continue work at the site while monitoring for the presence of the Jefferson Salamander was instituted.

The City of Guelph and Belmont Equity Partners statement of claim for damages, initially filed for $5 million, was reduced to $150,000 then increased to $5 million on February 24 2010. At that time they also removed two of the named individuals in the lawsuit. 

According to a city press release released at the time, the lawsuit was intended to ‘recover the actual cost of damages, including damages to the site, resulting from protestor activities, and costs relating to the loss of monitoring equipment’.

View a copy of the amended lawsuit from February 24 2010

View the statement of defence from March 24 2010

Although the plaintiffs would likely claim otherwise, this is really a good old SLAPP suit, a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) that according to Wikipedia, is “intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.”

According to Environmental Defence, SLAPPs are a growing threat to meaningful participation in issues of public interest in Ontario and significantly affect the ability of communities to protest development in environmentally sensitive areas.

Although SLAPP suits are not uncommon in Ontario, 50 per cent of American States, and most recently Quebec have passed anti-SLAPP legislation.

Environmental Defence is working with partners Ecojustice and Canadian Environmental Law Association to finally put a stop to SLAPPs in Ontario.

As well as pushing for new legislation, their campaign has encouraged more than 70 community groups to write to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty requesting an end to SLAPP suits.

They have also produced a petition to stop SLAPPs that you can sign HERE.

Interestingly, Environmental Defence have managed to get approximately 70 municipalities to pass a resolution asking the Province to pass anti-SLAPP legislation. Unfortunately green Guelph has not yet joined that group!

As usual there will be a great mix of cool music and event listings. A great way to start your Saturday. You won’t want to miss it!

Royal City Rag, Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm, Guelph’s Campus-Community Radio Station. 

Remember if you don’t catch Royal City Rag live on CFRU93.3fm, you can pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or here, on the blog, the next day.

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