UNJUST AND MUST BE DISALLOWED"
- Dave Le Gard,
Fallowfield Road resident
THE STITTSVILLE NEWS
August 9, 2005
LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
Letter: Complexing is a
violation of natural justice
The Ministry of Natural Resources
Ontario Wetland Evaluation System, Southern Manual provides guidance
for the biologists whose job is to evaluate wetlands. This is a 200
page document that provides guidance on two topics: what is a
wetland and what is a Provincially Significant Wetland?
On the first question, the manual
appears to be designed to allow the evaluator maximum discretion in
determining that an area is a wetland.
"Land does not need to be
wet to be wetland"
Murphey, City of Ottawa Coordinator for wetland
For instance, the manual talks
about four types of wetland - marsh, swamp, bog, and fen, which we
would all recognize as wetlands. However, the technical definition
is so much more general and leads to nonsense such as the statement
by Susan Murphey, the city of Ottawa's coordinator of the proposed
re-evaluation of land southwest of Stittsville as wetlands, that
"land does not need to be wet to be wetland" (interview with Dave
Stephens on Radio Morning, CBC Radio One, June 8th, 2005).
The designation of a wetland is
based on the plant population alone. The evaluation system doesn't
care care if property is wet; doesn't care why the property is wet
-i.e. city drainage policies; doesn't care what was there yesterday
or will be there tomorrow.
The sole criteria is that 50
percent of the plant species must be wetland plants (or, more
specifically, plants on the OWES manual's list of indicator species
for wetland plants, most of which happily grow in non-wet
In fact, problems on some of the
designated properties are caused by spring flooding and, more
specifically, by the city of Ottawa's failure to provide adequate
drainage. The city is draining areas to the north of the designated
area, but making no provision for the increased water flow to pass
through the area. The city has a clear legal responsibility to
provide such drainage.
So the process goes like this:
City fails to provide drainage
spring flooding on landowners' properties
Causes wetland plants to grow
City sees wetland plants
City designates property
Another example: In the late 80's,
tree planting was in vogue and MNR had the Managed Forest Program to
advise landowners on what trees to plant and provide assistance in
planting them. Some landowners have areas of tamaraks, recommended
by MNR and planted under the Managed Forest Program. Guess what?
Tamaraks are an indicator species for wetlands.
Province recommends tamaraks
Landowner plants tamaraks
City sees tamaraks
The second type of wetland is the
Provincially Significant Wetland, and it is this designation that
causes problems, limits the landowner's rights and devalues
properties. The Provincially Significant designation is desirable
from the city's perspective precisely because it limits the
landowner's rights to make changes to the wetland.
In the case of the landowners west
of Stittsville, the vast majority of the designated properties are
not Provincially Significant in their own right; at best they are
marginal wetlands. The city and the province have got around this
inconvenience using the 'complexing' rules.
Complexing allows a basic wetland
to be deemed Provincially Significant if it is within 750 metres of
an existing Provincially Significant wetland. The new Provincially
Significant Wetlandcan then be used to complex further wetlands,
using the same rules.
Complexingallows the city and
province to designate properties as Provincially Significant,
without the inconvenience or cost of having to meet Provincially
Significant wetlands standards.
Complexing allows the city and
province to designate marginal wetlands as Provincially Significant
- wetland that would never meet Provincially Significant Wetlands
standards on its own merits.
Complexing is fundamentally unjust
and must be disallowed.
Dave Le Gard