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June 10, 2024

Letter to the Editor: Destruction of threatened species habitat proposed by the Beaver Valley Development Group

Beaver Valley

LETTER TO THE EDITOR — I am extremely concerned with the Beaver Valley Development Group's plans for woodland blocks 7,8,9, and 10, and seek assurances that they will be left as is, especially as I know Block 7 to be home to a sizeable population of endangered bats.

There is a large swathe of established forest running along the northwest of the proposed development, abutting Talisman Boulevard, and enclosing the vigorously bubbling stream running down from the escarpment. This lush forest is a rich habitat for innumerable birds, mammals, amphibians, insects, and reptiles.

Over the years I have observed sizeable populations of endangered bat species (notably the little brown myotis and the northern myotis) around this wooded area, particularly around where Lanktree Drive connects through the forest trail to Talisman Mountain Drive.

I have contacted the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, the Nature Conservancy Canada, and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative about this.

Shown as Block 7 on the Beaver Valley Development Group’s Proposed Draft Plan of Subdivision, this environmental haven is marked for 'Natural Heritage' development. Early artist illustrations indicated that this 'Natural Heritage' block would be ripped out and replaced with manicured lawns.

While I understand that these were early artist impressions, I’m not quite sure how this disturbing destruction of beautiful habitat possibly fits under the 'Natural Heritage' descriptor and this concerns me a great deal. Considering the existential threat of the climate crisis, who in their right mind would consider pulling out established woodland at this moment in time?

Looking at the UNESCO website I found this:

Definition: 'Natural Heritage' refers to natural features, geological and physiographical formations and delineated areas that constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants and natural sites of value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty.

According to the Environmental Impact Study (conducted in accordance with section 7 of the County Plan to address both any mapped or unmapped environmental features on-site), commissioned and paid-for by the Beaver Valley Development Group, the four blocks proposed as 'Natural Heritage' are all deemed “insignificant woodland”.

I find it curious that the only block identified as "significant woodland” by Azimuth via County of Grey and Municipality of Grey Highlands Official Plan mapping is "to the north of the property, north of Lanktree Drive”, which I believe is part of Block 9, coincidentally one of the least appealing areas for anyone looking to develop due to its proximity to the Amik sewage lagoon.

A quick Google search uncovered this review of the Environmental Consultant firm Azimuth, employed by Beaver Valley Development Group for this Talisman project:

"We contacted (Brad) at Azimuth to assist with a scoped Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for a parcel of land we purchased and wanted to build on. What should have been the scariest process (dealing with Conservation :) ended up being the most seamless because of the team at Azimuth."

I would like to know exactly how the Beaver Valley Development Group defines the 'Natural Heritage' proposed for blocks 7, 8, 9, and 10 and I would like assurances from both the BVDG and council that these plots of so-called “insignificant woodland” are preserved as essential habit for all of the varied flora and fauna contained within, not only the endangered bat population.

Jamie Drummond,
Kimberley

 


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