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Old Posted Apr 8, 2021, 4:30 PM
thistleclub thistleclub is offline
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Hamilton Conservation Authority plan to let builders move wetlands sparks testy debate
(Ancaster News, Richard Leitner, Apr 6 2021)

A Hamilton Conservation Authority plan to let developers bulldoze some wetlands and other natural features if they recreate them elsewhere is dividing its own directors, even before the city and public get their say on a staff discussion paper.

The proposed “natural heritage offsetting” policy, which draws on ones at three other authorities, including Toronto’s, would only permit the trade-off if unavoidable and the lost habitat can be replaced by something equal or better.

While also prohibiting destruction of irreplaceable habitat, it still didn’t sit well with some directors at their April 1 meeting.

“This is a dramatic shift in conservation authority policy,” said Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark, questioning a goal to enact the change by this fall. “What’s the urgency?”

Authority chair Lloyd Ferguson said the initiative responds to a developer’s request last October to move a wetland in Ancaster’s airport employment growth district to make way for a 1.3-million-square-foot warehouse.

But Ferguson, councillor for Ancaster, said he’s aware of another two pending requests from the same area, arguing the policy will yield better land use, slow expansion of the urban boundary, and result in a net habitat benefit.

“It would actually enhance it,” he said. “The compensation may be three to one, two to one, four to one — who knows? That’ll come out in the public consultation.”

But Clark told Ferguson the authority seems to be acting “at the behest of a developer.”

“No, I think it’s more trying to create jobs and allow these things to move forward and get more tax credit,” Ferguson said.

“When did the conservation authority get in that business?” Clark shot back.

“OK, I don’t want to debate this with you,” Ferguson responded. “We’re not in that business, we’re in the conservation business.”

“Then why did you say it?” asked Clark, who joined two other directors in opposing the release of a discussion paper for public consultation. “I think this is wrong for the conservation authority to be going in this direction.”



Read it in full here.
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