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The Silver Creek Wetland (Posted On: Wednesday, May 23, 2007)

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DID YOU KNOW…that wetland values are still not widely recognized? As a result, during the past two centuries, over two-thirds of southern Ontario’s original wetland area has been lost. That number reaches 90% and higher in areas such as Ontario’s southwest. Wetlands located in coastal areas of the Great Lakes are especially at risk due to high development pressure.

The Silver Creek Wetland is the last remaining coastal wetland on southern Georgian Bay from Midland to Tobermory and home of the endangered Spotted Turtle. Located in the northwestern corner of the Town of Collingwood, the Silver Creek Wetland spans just over 165 hectares. It sits near the border of Grey County and the Town of The Blue Mountains.

The Silver Creek Wetland with its outlet to Georgian Bay is part of the larger Silver Creek watershed. It is an important corridor for water storage, absorption, filtration and transfer, a “natural infrastructure”. Any fragmentation of this natural ecosystem (approximately 13 square miles) could impair its functionality, the waters of Georgian Bay and potentially our drinking water.

The presence of the endangered Spotted Turtle, an indicator species, confirms that the Silver Creek Wetland is a healthy, interdependent and inter-related wetland. Spotted Turtles use different types of wetlands, as well as uplands, during different times of the year. Areas targeted for conservation should also be large enough to accommodate viable populations of Spotted Turtles, and the upland habitat should be conducive to travel between wetlands.

By definition, a wetland complex occurs as numerous individual pockets interspersed with uplands, rather than one discrete entity. This makes it doubly hard to protect it from impacts, as the pockets must remain functionally connected. In addition, each individual pocket, especially if it is small, can be highly vulnerable when surrounded by development and it is particularly severe if the development abuts the edge of the wetland.

The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) might NOT be interpreted in a manner that protects this fragile wetland, this ecologically sensitive land. The PPS prohibits development within the wetland proper and protects significant habitat of endangered species. The PPS also allows development on adjacent lands within 120 meters only if it has been demonstrated that there will be no negative impact on the natural features or on the ecological functions of the wetland. Unfortunately there is a wide range of interpretation for the term “negative impacts”.

DID YOU KNOW that Consulate Developments (Ontario) Inc. has submitted a Development Concept plan, “The Preserve at Georgian Bay”, for the east portion of their property which proposes to build over 300 housing units within the last remaining coastal wetland on Southern Georgian Bay? Their plans for the west portion have not been revealed.

Please don’t let this happen! We need your help in saving this wetland.

Starting on July 30, 2007 the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) (file # O04-0092) has convened a two week Hearing. Consulate Developments (Ontario) Inc. has challenged the Town of Collingwood’s new Official Plan (OP) as approved by the County of Simcoe.

You can make a difference to the future of the Silver Creek Wetland, the last coastal wetland from Midland to Tobermory.

Please contact the Blue Mountain Watershed Trust Foundation for more information by:

Phoning: Don Kerr, Director, at 705-444-0847 OR Norman Wingrove, Director, at 705-445-0357

Writing: Blue Mountain Watershed Trust Foundation, PO BOX 605, Collingwood, ON L9Y 4E8

Emailing: bmwt@bmts.com

Website: http://www.bmwt.ca

You can attend the OMB Hearing starting July 30, at 10 a.m. at the Collingwood Council Chambers, Municipal Bldg., 97 Hurontario Street, Collingwood Ontario. The Hearing will last for approximately 3 weeks.

You can also help by sending a letter to Minister Gerretsen asking him to use his powers under the Planning Act to prevent this development.

His contact information is:

The Honourable John Gerretsen Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing 777 Bay St., 17th floor, Toronto ON M5G 2E5, Fax (416) 585-6470. OR Email: jgerretsen.mpp@liberal.ola.org

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