Recent Media Coverage

'A very sensitive area'

By Elliot Ferguson,
The Kingston Whig-Standard,
December 12 2017

Residents around Loughborough Lake are trying to derail a housing development by convincing the Ontario government to deny a needed environmental permit.

A 15-lot development at Johnston Point is proposed for a 37-hectare property east of Perth Road, along the north shore of Loughborough Lake in South Frontenac Township.

The developer, Magenta Waterfront Development, is seeking a permit for the project from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry that would allow it to replace habitat elsewhere in exchange for developing habitat at the project site. The exchange of habitat provision in the Endangered Species Act is meant to create an overall benefit to affected species.

Opponents of the project said Johnston Point is home to at least six species that are in trouble, including the threatened gray ratsnake, Blanding's turtle and eastern whip-poor-will.

A petition to the ministry calling for the benefit permit to be rejected gathered 1,200 signatures.

In her submission to the ministry, area resident Evonne Potts said the project's impact on species at risk has not been addressed by municipal governments, the Ontario Municipal Board or the ministry.

"The proposed development at Johnston Point is the perfect example of how government at many levels is failing the people of Ontario," Potts wrote. "Quite simply, if Johnston Point Plan of Condominium is allowed to go ahead, then there is no place in Ontario which is safe from development."

Area resident Reol Vertegaal said the development did not take into account nearby sensitive wetlands and several threatened or endangered species in the area.

"This Frontenac Arch is the third most densely biodiverse area in Canada, after Point Pelee, which is tiny, and the Okanagon," Vertegaal said. "We have double the species that Algonquin has, and that is because we have overlapping ranges for northern and southern species, both flora and fauna. This is a very sensitive area for that reason."

Former Ontario environment commissioner Gord Miller, retained by the residents opposing the project, wrote in a statement to the ministry that a benefit permit was not a suitable request for the development.

Miller wrote that the development will destroy more habitat than can be recreated nearby.

"Johnston Point is a peninsula with no capacity to accommodate displaced species," Miller wrote. "The proposed 1,100-metre roadway, plus driveways, 15 residential dwellings, septic systems, lighting, noise, traffic, waste, humans, pets, etc., will expose these species and others to fatal interactions for which mitigation cannot be successful.

"The critical limiting factor for consideration of the requested MNRF overall benefit permit is that we are dealing with a peninsula," Miller added. "This is a very defined and discrete area for a number of species of concern that are not highly mobile. For the gray ratsnake and Blanding's turtle, this is a particularly acute limitation. There is no capacity to displace these species on the peninsula."

On Tuesday, three environmental groups released a report that suggested the Ontario government was not effectively implementing regulations meant to protect species at risk.

The report from the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice and Ontario Nature showed a pattern of "broad exemptions granted to industry from prohibitions, major delays in the development of recovery strategies for at-risk species, and a complete lack of public transparency about harmful activities occurring in at-risk species' habitats."

"We believe this is part of a larger issue," Vertegaal said. "It is too easy for private capital to essentially destroy natural habitat of species at risk with very few consequences."

elferguson@postmedia.com

The Kingston Whig-Standard 2017

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