Posts Tagged ‘Sierra Club Canada’

Royal City Rag on Saturday October 9 should be known as the show we weren’t supposed to get as we thought we were going to be pre-empted for the annual 24 Hours of Spanish Programming on CFRU 93.3fm. The good news is that the 24 Hours of Spanish Programming goes ahead from 6.00 p.m. on Saturday so we are no longer pre-empted.

In the first hour (8-9 a.m.) we’ll be focusing on the Guelph Studio Tour and dusting off some interviews from 2008 with blacksmith Graeme Sheffield, painter and printmaker Margaret Peter and painter Josef Kratochvil. The Guelph studio tour takes place from October 15-17. For more information on the studio tour visit www.guelphstudiotour.ca.

In the second hour (9-10 a.m.) we’ll be heading back on the municipal election beat with the first of two issues-based discussions, this one focusing on water, trees, the natural heritage strategy, public-private partnerships (P3s) as well as the Canada European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).

Sounds like a lot to squeeze in, but this is information you need to have before you head to the polls on October 25. To help us navigate through all this, we’re pleased to welcome back to the show, Norah Chaloner (from the Council of Canadians, Guelph Chapter and Guelph Urban Forest Friends)  and Judy Martin (Sierra Club and Guelph Urban Forest Friends).

As always we’ll wrap it all up with some great music. You won’t want to miss it!

Royal City Rag, Saturdays 8-10 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm in Guelph. Remember if you don’t catch Royal City Rag live, you can always pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or here, on the blog, a day or so later.

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In the first hour of CFRU93.3fm’s Royal City Rag on July 10, Judy Martin from Sierra Club Canada joined us with an update on some important environmental issues affecting the city.

1291 Gordon  Street is a proposal for a condo development at the corner of Edinburgh Road and Gordon Street, and impinging on a provincial significant wetland that forms part of the Hanlon Creek Watershed Complex.

This development is very significant for the community because it will give us the first indication of how seriously the city will protect our natural areas, as it comes to terms with the huge amount of growth that Guelph will experience under the provincial growth plan Places to Grow. By 2031, under Places To Grow, which mandates intensification within current city limits in an attempt to curb sprawl, Guelph’s population will grow from 105,000 to 165,000.

As Judy pointed out in her elegant address to the council planning meeting on July 5… this development proposal provides inadequate wetland buffers and is contrary to the Provincial Policy Statement in that it does not show that there will be “no negative impact” on the provincially significant wetland.

Indeed although the report prepared by city staff states that the 30-metre wetland buffer is appropriate for the site and that wetland function will not be impacted by this development… the (city prepared) Hanlon Creek Watershed Plan recommended 120 metre — not 30 metre– buffers for this wetland stating that this is “an area of rare plants & aquatic vegetation sensitive to disturbance.  Wide buffer required to protect vegetation from influx of salts and nutrients.  The buffer should include upland open area next to road to provide upland habitat for wildlife.”

Simply put, 30 metre buffers will not protect wildlife habitat. Wood frogs and spring peepers have been found in this wetland.  These frogs spend most of their lives on land, not in the water.

Fortunately, when this development file came to a planning meeting on July 5, council had the fortitude to send the proposal back to staff with a request for more information on the environmental impact of this development.

Although intensification and infill development are important to make sure that the city does not sprawl uncontrollably, the question is at what price?

According to Judy, adequate buffers (minimum 100 metres according to Environment Canada) are essential if we are to retain our natural areas, greenspace and biodiversity.

It is for this reason that the final arbiter on development with the province, the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), recommends a buffer of 120 metres.

That legislation is governed by ‘the precautionary principle’ which states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.

The intent is to protect… all of the biodiversity, all of the functions of our valuable remaining wetlands.   If this means 100 metre buffers or more,  and puts some areas off limits for development, that is the imperative.

Even the Places to Grow Act recognizes that the environment should take priority:

“if there is a conflict between a direction in a growth plan and a direction in a plan or policy . . . relating to the natural environment or human health, the direction that provides more protection to the natural environment or human health prevails.”

Unfortunately you have to question what the priority is here.

Read the full text of Judy Martin’s address to City Council HERE (right click to download)

You may also want to check out Royal City Rag contributor Bob Gordon’s article on using buffers to minimize the environmental impact of development.

The City of Guelph Natural Heritage Strategy comes back to city council on July 27.

Our conversation with Judy Martin was not restricted to the 1291 Gordon St. development proposal. Judy also outlined why it is important that city council pass a stronger tree bylaw. Many municipalities have stronger and more comprehensive tree bylaws than Guelph.

Guelph citizens have been waiting for a stronger tree bylaw for more than 20 years. In the meantime, the city continues to lose canopy. Currently Guelph’s urban forest canopy sits at 25%, while the desired level is 40%.

Clearcutting on the Carson Reid Property, June 2009

Unfortunately the current tree bylaw, from 1986 (view), states that it is an offence to injure or destroy any living tree in the City of Guelph but does very little to actually protect them.

The new bylaw (view the current draft) will be a significant improvement  however it is in danger of being weakened by intensive lobbying from the development community.

As Judy pointed out, the city’s intent is not to prevent homeowners from removing problem trees, but, rather,  to bring our bylaw in line with municipalities, such as Toronto and Richmond Hill, that are using best practices to protect their mature urban trees.

City Staff will be bringing an updated draft of ther proposed bylaw to the Community Development and Environmental Services (CDES) committee on July 19.

For more on this very important issue please visit Guelph Urban Forest Friends at www.guffguelph.ca.

If you missed the interview with Judy, you can find it via the link below. Its well worth a listen. If it inspires you then please speak out. Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will thank you for it.


Download (Right click and save)

The Unthanks, Because He Was A Bonny Lad from Here’s The Tender Coming
Loudon Wainright III, High Wide And Handsome from High Wide And Handsome, The Charlie Poole Project
Danny And The Champions Of The World, Henry The Van from Streets Of Our Time

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CFRU93.3fm’s Royal City Rag will be heading out on the municipal beat once again on July 10.

It’s hard to believe that the current city council’s four year term is nearing an end. It seems no time at all since the 2006 municipal election, and yet, here we are gearing up for another one.

As part of our pre-election coverage, Royal City Rag has invited all of the current city council, including Mayor Karen Farbridge to join us on the show for an end of term report. This will be an opportunity for council to discuss the main issues they see facing the city, talk about the successes of the current term as well as their hopes for the future. It will also give us a chance to ask some questions of them.

This Saturday morning we are pleased to welcome Ward 5 Councillor Lise Burcher to the show during the second hour (9-10 a.m.). Should be a fascinating discussion. You won’t want to miss it.

In the first hour of the show (8-9 a.m.), Judy Martin from Sierra Club Canada will be joining us again with an update on some important environmental issues affecting the city.

Sounds like a great show. As always, we’ll wrap it all up with some great music.

Royal City Rag, Saturdays 8-10 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm in Guelph. Remember if you don’t catch Royal City Rag live, you can always pick it up later that day via the CFRU archive or here, on the blog, a day or so later.

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On November 23, Guelph City Council approved an Operations Dept. plan to remove 54 mature trees from Royal City Park. Guelph Urban Forest Friends (GUFF) and Sierra Club Canada made delegations explaining why some of the trees should be retained. 

View the GUFF presentation

View the Sierra Club Canada presentation

At the council meeting, Councillor Piper requested that the citizens be encouraged to buy trees for planting in the park next spring. Our response is below.

If you have concerns about the reduction of our urban forest canopy, please contact  your councillors and request that some of our tax base go to maintenance and protection of our trees. The budget is being discussed December 8 at City Council.

Dear Councillor Piper:

Regarding your suggestion for GUFF to support citizen donations of trees for Royal City Park .

The goal of GUFF has always been to advocate for tree maintenance and protection, as well as increase, through having an urban forestry department with a forester. This person, as head of a separate, dedicated department could also coordinate the public education for the value of our mature canopy which is so necessary in the face of extreme climate events in our future. Of course, there would be a strong protective bylaw for delivery of this vital service.

That said, many Guffers do enjoy planting trees with the wonderful Speed River Project every year. Many also take part in the annual Rotary sponsored tree planting outside the city at Guelph Lake. Although the thousands of trees planted in the township contribute to our benefits of greening, we do need more trees inside the city to counter the heat island effect that comes from a busy city with its grey infrastructure and  transportation corridors. I wonder if Guelph Rotary would be interested in planting in the city next spring.

GUFF has listed many benefits of trees in our new powerpoint on Sustainable Guelph. We hope that you will look at it and pass it on…. and will support Guelph’s canopy with a strong protective tree bylaw, an urban forestry department and a forester.

Thanks for sharing GUFF’s concern for our ‘upstanding residents’, the trees.

Respectfully yours,

Guelph Urban Forest Friends

Contacting Guelph City Council

Mayor Farbridge: mayor@guelph.ca

Ward 1: Bob Bell bob.bell@guelph.ca, Kathleen Farrelly kathleen.farrelly@guelph.ca
Ward 2: Vicki Beard vicki.beard@guelph.ca, Ian Findlay ian.findlay@guelph.ca
Ward 3: Maggie Laidlaw maggie.laidlaw@guelph.ca, June Hofland june.hofland@guelph.ca
Ward 4: Gloria Kovach gloria.kovach@guelph.ca, Mike Salisbury mike.salisbury@guelph.ca
Ward 5: Lise Burcher lise.burcher@guelph.ca, Leanne Piper leanne.piper@guelph.ca
Ward 6: Christine Billings christine.billings@guelph.ca, Karl Wettstein karl.wettstein@guelph.ca

Don’t know your ward? Click here to see the map

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Today, a formal letter was sent to Mayor Karen Farbridge, Guelph City Council and the City of Guelph’s Manager of Tourism and Economic Development, Peter Cartwright, that both recognizes the merits of the Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP) plan and calls for adjustments to help the project truly “meet the environmental side of the triple bottom line.”

The letter was extensively researched and is signed by several community groups (Council of Canadians, Guelph Urban Forest Friends and the Sierra Club) and prominent Guelph activists (James Gordon, Hugh Whiteley, Gail McCormack and Mike Darmon).

It recommends a number of “reasonable changes” to the HCBP plan that would help to ensure the health of provincially significant wetlands and wildlife, retain more mature native trees, reduce soil disruption to ensure the growth of new trees and shrubs, lessen the impact of roads on natural areas, and protect aquifer recharge areas that are important for our water supply. It also includes the recommendation that construction continue to be delayed until more is known about the habitat of species at risk in the project area.

Finally, the letter calls for increased investment in the reuse of existing buildings and the redevelopment of ‘brownfield’ sites.

View the text of the letter here.

Add Your Voice…

Contacting Guelph City Council

Mayor Farbridge: mayor@guelph.ca

Ward 1: Bob Bell bob.bell@guelph.ca, Kathleen Farrelly kathleen.farrelly@guelph.ca
Ward 2: Vicki Beard vicki.beard@guelph.ca, Ian Findlay ian.findlay@guelph.ca
Ward 3: Maggie Laidlaw maggie.laidlaw@guelph.ca, June Hofland june.hofland@guelph.ca
Ward 4: Gloria Kovach gloria.kovach@guelph.ca, Mike Salisbury mike.salisbury@guelph.ca
Ward 5: Lise Burcher lise.burcher@guelph.ca, Leanne Piper leanne.piper@guelph.ca
Ward 6: Christine Billings christine.billings@guelph.ca, Karl Wettstein karl.wettstein@guelph.ca

Don’t know your ward? Click here to see the map.

Expect to hear more about this issue on Royal City Rag,  Saturdays 7-9 a.m. on CFRU93.3fm. If it happens in Guelph, you’ll hear about it on Royal City Rag!

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Bob Gordon

Bob Gordon

The Elephant In The Living Room Is Green
Bob Gordon, Freelance Journalist/Royal City Rag Contributor

In the wake of the occupation of the land slated to become the Hanlon Creek Businesss Park (HCBP) and the ensuing injunction hearings I contacted a variety of Guelph civic and environmental organizations.

I did not contact the organization known as LIMITS nor did I speak to the occupants themselves. In both cases, their positions seemed self-evident. They want the construction of the business park to be permanently deep-sixed.

I did however contact local Sierra Club representative Judy Martin, the Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians (CoC-Guelph) and the Guelph Civic League (GCL). Co-Chair Norah Chaloner (with Dave Sills) responded for the CoC-Guelph as did President Annie O’Donoghue on behalf of the GCL.

None of these organizations expressed support for the occupation.

However Norah Chaloner noted that “the action taken by these young people lead to the revelation of information that was not being made available to the public…. the two letters from MNR to the city, dated May 25 and July 31, strongly advising against continued development.” Judy Martin concurred, “We believe the protesters brought attention to an important matter.”

Chaloner and Martin were also united in the view that both the Minister of Natural Resources, Donna Cansfield and Mayor Karen Farbridge should accept the conclusions of the MNR’s Guelph District office and stop work until appropriate investigation of the Jefferson Salamnder issue could be conducted.

Looking to the future, on August 17, Annie O’Donoghue stated, “GCL’s position is to urge the city to bring all community stakeholders together to seek a collaborative solution to the issues surrounding HCBP.” The GCL has continued to take this approach.

On September 22, the Guelph Mercury published an open letter from the GCL to the mayor that continues to espouse this consultative approach. “We would like to invite Farbridge to re-engage the community within a collaborative process that addresses any legitimate citizen concerns and reinstates community cohesion.”

The bottom-line is five community organizations have significant concerns with the situation as it now stands and the plans for the HCBP in there present form.

Even a group such as the GCL that believes “the Hanlon Creek Business Park has the potential to strengthen our economy and increase job opportunities while protecting the environment” has concerns.

The mayor firmly rejected any further dialogue.

The real story here is the ‘silence of the Greens.’

Repeatedly, throughout August, I contacted various members of the Green Party requesting information or answers. They simply refused to reply or respond.

Speaking in Guelph on September 10, Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May declined to comment on the HCBP issue specifically, “Yes, it’s important to protect moraine, wetlands and old growth forest. On the other hand, this is an issue I think I’ll defer to the local Greens.”

Subsequently, I informed the leader’s executive assistant, Debra Eindiguer that it seemed unusual to defer to a group that refused to comment.

She assured me that a statement from the local Greens would be forthcoming early in the week of September 21-25.

By e-mail I received a response from Guelph Greens’ CEO Tara Treanor that speaks for itself: “How odd. I can’t imagine why Debra would say such a thing – unless she has been in touch with someone other than me (I’m supposed to be the head honcho as much as the Greens have a hierarchy – which isn’t really at all, at least not locally).”

“In any case, we are not in a position to “issue a statement”, not least because it would be about 40 pages long so hardly a statement! I’m sorry to say that Debra was wrong.”

There is an elephant in the living room folks. It is Green. It is confused… and it is very long-winded.

Bob Gordon

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

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

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

This article was originally posted by Wellington Waterwatchers on their website on March 3, 2009.

I thought it would be a good idea to re-post it here to remind people why well-known and respected local organizations like Wellington Waterwatchers, the Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Guelph Urban Forest Friends and the Sierra Club have all expressed serious concerns about the current plans for the Hanlon Creek Business Park.


Hanlon Creek Business Park threatens the sustainability of Guelph’s Water Supply
Wellington Waterwatchers

We acknowledge the necessity for more economic development and additional opportunities for business growth in our community. We desire sustainability in such growth. The initial Hanlon Creek Business Park (HCBP) plan was envisioned originally as a ‘green’ initiative, with low impact development practices aimed at preserving provincially significant wetlands and old-growth trees found in the area between Downey Road and the Hanlon Expressway.

However the latest plans are not consistent with this ‘green’ plan.  It appears that cost-effectiveness has taken priority over low impact development goals.  In the SHORT term, the plan calls for over 500 acres to be affected, of which as much as 75% may be paved or built over. This plan would dramatically effect a water catchment area which is crucial to the Downey Well and the groundwater recharge of the Paris-Galt Moraine.  The Moraine is a critical source of municipal water supply for Guelph and surrounding area. The Guelph-Puslinch Groundwater Protection Study from 2005 states that increased industrial activity in this sensitive area raises the potential for toxic materials to seep into our drinking water.

There are over 1700  trees, 60 biodiverse hedgerows, plants and up to 4 ft. of topsoil.  Bulldozers and graders will entirely disrupt the soil integrity which will be mass graded for levelling high areas  to low areas. Included in this tree count is a remnant of old-growth forest that has been identified SINCE the development plan was approved in 2005. The Sierra Club of Canada has expressed serious concerns about grading this entire site before businesses have even agreed to locate there. Other communities with similar developments in uncertain economic times have been left with costly unused “Moonscapes”. We believe that more thought should be put into the scope and planning of the HCBP so that the wetland, recharge zones and old growth forest are preserved.

The Paris-Galt Moraine has not been fully mapped. Mayor Karen Farbridge and MPP Liz Sandals requested that the Minister of the Environment protect the Moraine as it overlies Guelph’s drinking water.  We have been questioning all along the wisdom of giving our water away to commercial water bottlers in our area without properly identifying whether our water supply can sustain us through the exponential growth predicted for our city. It is important not to threaten this high quality water supply more with this plan that seems out of step with our current awareness of its potential for environmental damage?

We believe that the City is missing a golden opportunity to be an effective leader in the province by planning a development that can be sensitive to the environment while at the same time provide a sustainable economic opportunity.

Along with a number of other citizens groups, we would like to be able to bring this issue to the City of Guelph Council to help address our concerns. We were surprised and disappointed to learn that there are no plans to bring this matter back to City Council except to examine the tenders offered for the construction of the business park.  This appears to be very premature considering the current economic times and lack of excess public funds.

To us, this does not appear to be within the spirit of the City of Guelph’s mandate for transparency and accountability.

We urge you to write to Mayor Farbridge and City of Guelph councilors to ask, based on the new economic and environmental climate, that the Hanlon Creek Business Park development plans be revisited.

Mayor Farbridge: mayor@guelph.ca

Ward 1: Bob Bell bob.bell@guelph.ca, Kathleen Farrelly kathleen.farrelly@guelph.ca
Ward 2: Vicki Beard vicki.beard@guelph.ca, Ian Findlay ian.findlay@guelph.ca
Ward 3: Maggie Laidlaw maggie.laidlaw@guelph.ca, June Hofland june.hofland@guelph.ca
Ward 4: Gloria Kovach gloria.kovach@guelph.ca, Mike Salisbury mike.salisbury@guelph.ca
Ward 5: Lise Burcher lise.burcher@guelph.ca, Leanne Piper leanne.piper@guelph.ca
Ward 6: Christine Billings christine.billings@guelph.ca, Karl Wettstein karl.wettstein@guelph.ca

Don’t know your ward? Click here to see the map.

Thanks as always for your ongoing support.

For more background information on the Hanlon Creek Business Park, please see this timeline.

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Kyoto Plus, Help Cool The Planet!

climate20changeJoin us in St George’s Square on December 7th for a family-friendly rally/parade to support a crucial meeting enroute to a new global climate treaty next year.

This special event starts at 2.00 p.m. and includes live music with James Gordon and street theatre. Bring your message to hang on our clothesline. Wear something blue, paint your idea on a cardboard fan and wave it in the parade.

Help us ‘Cool the Planet’ !

We will parade down Wyndham St to 10 Carden St where we will enjoy refreshments.

World leaders meet this December in Poland.

Canada must not block the negotiations like we did in 2007.

We must join the international voice for reduction in dangerous climate change. We are speaking out for the Earth.

This event is supported by Council of Canadians, Guelph Urban Forest Friends, Wellington Water Watchers, Sierra Club, Eden Mills Carbon Neutrals, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, Guelph Environmental Leadership, Unitarian Congregation of Guelph, Guelph Wellington Coalition for Social Justice, GREN (Grand River Environmental Network) and others.


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