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article imageCity of Guelph told to keep looking for Jefferson Salamander Special

By Stephanie Dearing     Aug 7, 2009 in Environment
Guelph, ON – The City of Guelph has been advised by the Ministry of Natural Resources to halt any planned construction work on Phase I of the Hanlon Creek Business Park, and to undertake another search for the Jefferson Salamander.
Two letters were sent to the City - one in May, before the construction of the road on the property was started, and the other letter was sent in late July, after construction began. The Information Officer for the Guelph branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Bill Murch, said he could not discuss the contents of the letters beyond the fact that “the Ministry of Natural Resources advised the City that they need to do more research to see if the Jefferson Salamander is on the property.” Murch went on to say that “It would be in the best interest of the City to not proceed with the development. The City needs to do more research to locate the Jefferson Salamander. The Ministry of Natural Resources is not satisfied with the City's efforts to locate the Jefferson Salamander."
The letters from the Ministry of Natural Resources may come up as evidence in an injunction hearing scheduled for August 10th in Guelph. The City of Guelph had filed an injunction against protesters who successfully halted construction by moving onto the construction site of the Hanlon Creek Business Park off Downey Road on Monday July 27th. The City is seeking the injunction so that it might continue with Phase I, the installation of a four-lane roadway on the property, which is home to a Provincially Significant wetland. The Phase I road will intersect the wetland. The wetland is home to an old growth forest, which is designated as "significant" under the City of Guelph’s Official Plan.
Murch explained that sometimes altering a cold water stream, such as filling in an area that allows the stream to spread out, which then allows the water to be warmed by the sun, are undertaken even on environmentally sensitive areas, because such work actually improves the quality of the water.
The City of Guelph is in the process of adopting a Natural Heritage Strategy, which will guide the City on issues of protecting environmentally sensitive areas within city limits. In work leading up to the Natural Heritage Strategy, the environmental engineers that were hired by the City, Dougan and Associates, identified the Hanlon Creek Business Park site as home to two species at risk - the Jefferson Salamander and the Western Chorus Frog. Dougan and Associates also found that just over 1,000 different species of plants, birds and other animals that are deemed significant also live in the area where the Hanlon Creek Business Park will be situated.
Peter Cartwright, General Manager of Economic Development and Tourism for the City of Guelph, is the spokesperson for the City on the Hanlon Creek Business Park. He was not available for a comment this afternoon.
The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) Manager of Communications, Dave Schultz, said that the GRCA issued a permit to the City of Guelph on July 13, 2009 to proceed with the construction of the roadway. Schulz said that the bridge that will be built over the cold water stream will be 500 feet across. He also said that all phases of the development would require separate permits. The GRCA is responsible for administering federal regulations regarding fisheries.
Recently the City of Guelph decided to scrap its application to have the portion of the Paris-Galt Moraine that runs through city limits protected through having it become part of Ontario's Greenbelt, saying that it would develop those areas, but the City would be able to protect the moraine better than the Greenbelt legislastion. Also earlier this week, news that the city is planning to cut down several large trees in order to expand a parking lot next the the Guelph Youth Music Centre has upset residents. On the plus side, City buses had bicycle carriers installed so that starting August 1st, bicycle riders will be able to take the bus.
The Western Chorus Frog is protected under federal legislation, and efforts to speak with a spokesperson from Environment Canada are still underway.
More about Hanlon creek business, Jefferson salamander, Old growth forest, Guelph
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